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DVD Review: Giuliani Time – Sharp, Yet Dull

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What Giuliani Time lacks in style is well overshadowed by its compelling substance. Kevin Keating's acclaimed two-hour documentary slathers muck on Time magazine's 2001 "Person of the Year," Rudy Giuliani. This film is all about information rather than simple entertainment. Viewers must actually pay attention and perhaps fight through flashes of boredom, trusting that their valiance will be rewarded.

From Reagan adviser to two-term New York mayor, the ambitious film attempts to convince us of the dark side of Giuliani's celebrated career. The evidence presented suggests a pattern of lies, corruption, class-based bigotry, and moral compromises spanning three decades. Contradictory statements from the man himself go a long way in making the case.

A slew of interviewees paint Giuliani as a lowlife and a liar, with one dissenting voice. I suppose this lone naysayer was a tool of Keating's. This was a man named Myron, sporting the 1850s look complete with bow tie, antiquated spectacles, and white mutton chops. I would say that Myron was hand-picked to contradict the other sources, as his comical appearance surely discredits him in the eyes of some.

Revealing that Giuliani's father served time in a federal prison and alleging that he had a career in organized crime was a mistake. It runs in the family? This five-minute mention was overzealous, leaving me to wonder where else in the film Keating may have overshot.

Purported dishonesty while working for the Reagan administration and the United States Attorney's Office are prelude to a story of wanton police brutality and social inequity in New York as a direct result of Giuliani's leadership, specifically Giuliani policies such as "Quality of Life" and "Zero Tolerance." Conjecture is kept within reason as historical evidence and credible interview sources make an impressive case against Giuliani.

A full-scale assault on his "Broken Windows Theory" — a crime fighting approach Giuliani made famous as mayor — is where a combination of interviews and statistics make the film's most compelling argument.

As for the boredom, for me it mushroomed into annoyance a couple of times. The opening credits are flashed across a background of video footage of the Great Depression, World War II, and the Baby Boom. Why? Just because those eras were briefly mentioned apropos of nothing, really. Ultra dull/pointless footage of a demonstration in New York City during Giuliani's reign played interminably. All I could do was watch and hope, believing that this, too would pass.

Many documentaries pair fun with the facts, this one resembles a deadpan news special. Giuliani Time's intrigue was all in the interviews and statistics. Is Giuliani's hero image merely fallout from September 11? Is he just another lying, whoring politician? All things considered, this is an impressive and enlightening documentary. There were no bells and whistles to enamor me, but I had a good time watching.

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  • bliffle

    I don’t know about the other Giuliani issues, but credit for his actions after 9/11 seem greatly overblown. It just looked like empty PR, to me. Oh, that’s right. That’s how we elect presidents these days. Never mind.

  • daryl d

    I used to be a huge fan of Rudy Giuliani and this was before 911. While everybody was crucifying him, I defended him for helping make New York City a safer place. I also enjoyed his sense of humor and liked the fact he always appeared on the Howard Stern show.

    Then came 911 and Rudy’s saint status, which was totally pathetic. All the man did was take pictures with firemen. I’m sure he was hurt by what happened, but it almost seems as if part of him enjoyed the September 11 events so he could make himself a saint.

    I’m not a big fan of Hillary Clinton, but Rudy’s attacks on her seem quite desperate. Besides, if he’s going to run for the party that preaches “family values,” Rudy Giuliani is definitely not the spokeperson of moral compass. Then again, with a party that represents a sex club in the West Village these days, perhaps Giuliani is at home.