Friday, June 03, 2011

Some more reviews of Battle for Brooklyn, which opens tonight at Brooklyn Film Festival

My long review of Battle for Brooklyn (which opens tonight in Brooklyn, and will screen free at Fort Greene Park June 9, open in cinemas June 17, and ) is coming one of these days, but first, a few excerpts from and comments regarding other reviews.

The Brooklyn Eagle's ‘Battle for Brooklyn’ Recaps Atlantic Yards Struggle :
For out-of-towners, it is an invaluable introduction to the facts around the struggle, which pit community residents against one of the most powerful real estate companies in the city and some of the most powerful local officials.

But for those who are familiar with the story, it seems to be a little too black-and-white, too much of a platform for Daniel Goldstein and his Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn organization. This writer believes that although there was plenty to criticize in the arena project, the truth is more complex.
Well, the film certainly can't cover all the complexities in the project, but the reviewer's conclusion is completely untenable:
This writer feels that what the Ratner organization should have done was to survey the area, find out who was willing to sell and who wasn’t, then design the project around it.
The Chicago Reader, Battle for Brooklyn:
Daniel Goldstein, a resident who fought the development to the bitter end, serves as the video's protagonist, but his personal story isn't especially interesting. The documentary is more valuable for its cold-eyed look at how real estate interests work the levers of power in state and city government, dangling the vague promise of job creation in exchange for sweetheart deals that drain the public coffers.
Well, Goldstein's an interesting character, but he's no storybook Susette Kelo; indeed, the documentary lays bare how power works in New York City and New York State.

New York Daily News film critic Joe Neumaeir, Court fight: Story of the battle over a basketball arena opens Brooklyn Film Festival:
The rousing, engrossing documentary will screen at the Brooklyn Heights Cinema on Friday...

"I saw posters saying 'Stop the Atlantic Yards Project.' Then I met Patti Hagan, a neighborhood activist, who said people were taking buyouts. But she said, 'You should meet this guy Dan[Goldstein] , he may stick it out.' That was the way into the story. Dan was a person saying, 'This is wrong, and I can't let this happen.' "
Daily News sports writer Michael O'Keeffe, New documentary 'Battle for Brooklyn' details the fight over the Atlantic Yards project:
Directors Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky say they are not activists, and they had no interest in demonizing Ratner and his allies. "We're not Michael Moore," Galinsky says.

But Hawley and Galinsky didn't have to go out of their way to takes sides. They didn't have to make an effort to make Ratner and his friends look bad. All they had to do is turn on their cameras.

Forest City Ratner vice president Bruce Bender, pointing to a map as he tells the filmmakers which blocks will be seized for the project and which blocks will remain intact, comes across as dishonest and arrogant as the Bush administration officials who brought us the Iraq War. He's a man without empathy, completely unable to comprehend why residents and businessmen would be reluctant to step out of the way so his company could reap big profits...

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz reduces himself to a cartoon character as he invokes Junior's cheesecake and the long-gone Brooklyn Dodgers to explain why Ratner needs to take homes and businesses to build an NBA team. "He shed so many tears for the Dodgers going to La-La Land," AY foe Patti Hagan says in the film. "He's shed no tears for the one thousand people he wants put out of their homes."

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