Volume 22, Number 20 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | September 25 - October 1, 2009

Koch on Film

By Ed Koch

“The Informant!” (+)
Although not a blockbuster, “The Informant” is an interesting, diverting film. According to a crawl before the picture begins, the movie is based on a true story involving the Archer Daniels Midland Company (which was indicted for price fixing activities around the world).

The corporation was involved in the sale of corn and other crops. The U. S. government was alerted to the company’s criminal activities by an ADM employee, Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon). We learn that Whitacre, who was bipolar and had delusions about his own future with the organization, was also criminally involved in the fraud.

Damon, who put on 30 pounds for the role, does a good job portraying Whitacre. His faithful wife, Ginger (Melanie Lynskey), appears as a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car who is about to become roadkill.

Interestingly, the facts revealed as a result of wiretaps, taped meetings, and the antics of Whitacre throughout the investigation appear more and more unbelievable but apparently are true. The final outcome of the criminal process appears unjust. Whitacre received a prison sentence of nine years for his involvement and the money he stole from the company, about $9 million.  The executives who fixed the prices received a far shorter prison sentence of three years. 

“The Informant” is not the best thriller I have seen, but I think you will enjoy it.

HS said: “This was a crisp, reasonably diverting film, well acted in what appeared to be in an authentic corporate setting. It marked the debut of Fat Matt Damon.

In the theatre, actors who succeed in one genre often want to show they can do equally well in completely different roles. My advice would be, whatever the role, lose the thirty pounds and the mustache. Does Damon want to be Bourne again?  I think of him as the kid who was the math genius in ‘Good Will Hunting.’

Full disclosure: I bought 100 shares of ADM stock in 1970, on my broker’s advice. Since then, it has cumulatively split more than 16 to 1 and the dividend is 42 times what it was when I bought it (unfortunately, that was my only bonanza; my few other stocks were dogs). Maybe they should have tried price fixing.”

Rated R, 108 minutes. At, among other places, Clearview’s Chelsea (260 West 23rd Street). For screening times, 212-777-3456 x597. For the box office, 212-691-5519. Also at Regal Union Square Stadium 14 (850 Broadway). For screening times, 800-326-3264 x628.





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