Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Giuliani Time (2005) – Even Before His Involvement with Trump, I Couldn’t Imagine Why Would Anyone Vote For This Man

The title of the documentary comes from a quote regarding the Abner Louima police brutality case. The officers involved were said to have told Louima “It’s Giuliani time” while sodomizing him with a broomstick and beating him in the bathroom of a police station. The New York Post printed an editorial that stated that if a little bit of an increase in police brutality was in exchange for a dramatic decrease in crime, then we’re all in favor of Giuliani time. If you agree with that, well, all I can say is if it were happening to you, you would feel quite differently.

The film Giuliani Time uses the testimony of the people who were there during Giuliani’s two terms as mayor of New York City. It’s not a rant on all of the evils of the man. Instead, many of the people who participated in the film are the people who were involved in his administration. The people who knew him best and people who were well-known names around New York City during his terms as mayor are here pretty much confirming what I remember his two terms to be like. This includes former Police Chief William Bratton and former Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew.

Giuliani Time opens with Giuliani’s remarks at the 2004 Republican Convention, held in New York City. I found them nauseating and phony at the time and still do today. It takes his remarks comparing the era ushered in by Franklin Roosevelt and the era ushered in by Ronald Reagan and compares what those two time periods were actually about. It’s quite ironic that the man he says Giuliani claims to idolize set the economic course that brought New York City to the brink of disaster.

His background growing up in Brooklyn is given. The family bar in Brooklyn was running numbers and gambling out of the basement. It also was a front for a loan shark operation as well as being a well-known hang-out for local wise-guys. This is despite Giuliani’s assertions that his father was “compulsively honest.” His father did time in Sing-Sing for an armed robbery conviction in the 1930s prior to being involved with the operations at the bar in the late 1940s. Giuliani tried to ignore it for years and it’s actually shown how he lied on his FBI clearance to work as a U.S. Attorney, but nothing is ever done about it.

During the 1960s Giuliani seemed to embrace the counter-culture and only seemed to change his philosophy when he was appointed to a position during the Nixon administration. To me, it seems as if he changed his views to align with where he felt his greatest political potential was.

After he attended law school, it was Reagan’s “War on Drugs” which gave him the opportunity to grow as a U.S. Attorney. He was the key and principal implementer of the immigration policy during the Haitian boat crisis when so many were fleeing the island due to the humanitarian violations under “Papa Doc” Duvalier, whom he asserted was not committing any human rights violations nor was there any political oppression taking place. This was all done to put a stop to the influx of Haitian immigrants. I have to wonder if his reaction would have been the same if it were boatloads of white people from Italy. Even though his position was struck down in the courts, and the detention policies were thrown out, it got him the appointment as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

While there, he tripled the public relations staff for the office as well, which aided in making sure he gained national attention. This was all in preparation for his starting his political career by running for office. You can thank the taxpayers of the USA for helping him get all of the notoriety that he did.

While the City under Mayor Dinkins attempted to put in place a Civilian Complaint Review Board so that the police aren’t investigating complaints against their fellow officers, Giuliani used this as a platform to align himself with the police. He participated with them at a rally where the protesting officers were chanting Dinkins Must Go! and using the “n” word to talk about him. This was despite the fact that at his concession speech he called for unity behind the Mayor of New York. It would seem he talked a good game, but his bully pulpit that was evident during his administration was one he used early on.

It was during this time, as he prepared to run against Dinkins after having lost the battle for that office to him the first time, he attended a seminar at The Manhattan Institute which gave him the Broken Windows initiative. This was the theory that if you addressed quality of life issues or “nuisance” crimes, it would lead to an overall lower rate of major crime as well. A member of the board from that place talks at great length during Giuliani Time. At first, I just disagreed with him, but later on, as he’s talking and insisting that there were no more homeless people in New York City due to programs Giuliani initiated when the homeless were still there and were just hiding due to fear of being arrested for the “crime” of being homeless.

People forget that it was actually Dinkins who had the Safe Streets, Safe Cities initiative that actually increased the police force and led to a decline in crime from 1991-1993 during his administration. Giuliani just knew how to work the press better – but the facts are there and presented here.

Director Kevin Keating contrasts what Giuliani says in his inaugural speech with what groups such as those who were HIV + and the homeless were seeing as their reality. Bratton states that Giuliani wanted to break the back of the NYPD and make it subservient to him – and that he succeeded. Bratton also states that when he got attention for his work in New York City, and on the cover of Time magazine, it cost him his job due to Giuliani’s megalomaniacal ways.

The individuals who testify as to how Giuliani’s programs adversely affected them are interesting as well. What’s nice is that Keating seems to go out of his way to show it wasn’t all just minorities who are not singing Giuliani’s praises. Take the case of a Bernard Kleinert, a (white) jewelry store owner who details how he was targeted by the police who broke into his store like stormtroopers accusing them of having stolen merchandise is truly frightening. He was eventually paid restitution by the City, and I wonder why these stories never made the news in New York City, especially considering the whole incident was caught and recorded by his hidden camera.

Then there’s John Hynes who called into one of Giuliani’s radio programs and was belittled by the Mayor for challenging him. This was a man who was a productive part of the workforce for many years before falling ill and needing assistance once he was confined to a wheelchair. The problem was, with Giuliani’s workfare program, he kept getting cut off because he was not physically able to work. So the tough Mayor is on the radio making fun of a man in a wheelchair, saying he needs psychiatric help because he doesn’t buy what Giuliani is saying. Is this “Compassionate Conservatism?” Is it compassionate at all?

Giuliani has always been well-known for punishing those who don’t agree with him, whether it’s someone connected to City Hall or outside groups. There were over twenty different issues that were struck down by the Courts where Giuliani tried to silence people on first amendment issues. All of this was just because they disagreed with him.

The point is also made that while Giuliani used his forceful personality to convince everyone that crime was going down in New York City faster than the rest of the country (all due to him, no less) that just wasn’t the case. Statistically, crime was going down at the same rate all over the country. At the same time, complaints about police brutality were up by 46%, and a disproportionate number of the complaints were made by minorities.

Some of the arguments in the assault on the “quality of life” policing that went on, I have no sympathy for. One lawyer complains that people used to be written a summons if they were caught trying to beat a fare (jumping the turnstiles) on the subway or bus. Now people were being handcuffed and brought downtown before the judge. Well, it’s pretty obvious they were stealing and I have zero sympathy. I have more sympathy for the people who were just caught out with an open container of beer and were given the same treatment. A ticket should be more than enough in that case and pursue it further if it’s determined they were repeat offenders or ignored the ticket. It seemed that every infraction of the rules took on a larger-than-life quality under his administration, especially if you were a minority. Arresting artists selling their work on the street? That’s one of the things I loved about New York City and I got a lot of my artwork that way.

When the talk turns to the Mayor’s WEP program that forced people to do jobs in the City in exchange for their welfare check, I have a pretty hard time understanding what is so bad about not hiring other people in positions such as the parks department and instead of using those on this program. I do agree that there was some smoke and mirrors here as Giuliani claimed to reduce the City’s payroll, while at the same time replacing those positions with workers from the WEP program. The government was not reduced, it was just structured differently.

For those who think that because Giuliani has an R after his name, he is automatically more moral than those who have a D after their name, Giuliani’s liaisons are detailed here. Right as he drops the bomb in the press about his cancer, he introduces the new woman in his life, Judith Nathan. This is funny because he has a wife and two kids sitting in the mayoral mansion. Within two weeks, he also announces through the press that he is seeking a separation, without ever notifying his wife, Donna. She learned it the same way everyone else in New York did. Once she does speak, she strikes back with no holds barred and lets it be known that this isn’t the first affair Rudy’s had as she tolerated an indiscretion with an aide by the name of Christyne Lategano. So for everyone who thinks Giuliani is more “moral” than Bill Clinton, it doesn’t wash. Any Fundamentalist who would vote for this man is truly ignorant in so many ways if they cite morality as an issue.

Giuliani Time was made in 2005. Although there was a possibility of the man running for President then, nothing was for certain so this wasn’t made recently just as an issue over the upcoming campaign. There are terrific facts presented here of just what a hypocrite he is, talking tough on crime and mobsters while his family was involved with the mob. It’s pretty much along the lines of what I remember from living in the City (and having a spouse who worked for the City) during his administration.

If nothing else, Giuliani Time should be seen for people to be informed about what Rudy Giuliani is really like, rather than what his publicist would like you to believe about him. It’s well made and paced nicely and I didn’t find it boring at all. Many political films bog down at times, and this one doesn’t. Keating did a fine job and this should be required viewing before the primaries.

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