Sunday, September 16, 2012

In Sohn's Motherland, a film called Atlantic Yards (which differs from the film in PPW)

Amy Sohn's dishy, satirical Motherland, a high-end soap opera set mostly in Park Slope and drenched in local detail (reviews here and here) and dark views of parenthood and marriage, has recurring references to a film called Atlantic Yards.

The film seems to have morphed from its description in the prequel, Prospect Park West, as "a thriller about gentrification and terrorism" with "a terror cell run out of a muffin shop, and a corrupt borough president funneling money to the terrorists, and then there's this weathered Seventy-eighth Precinct cop who catches on to the scheme and winds up saving the day."

Rest assured, it's not based on the actual story of Brooklyn's most controversial development project--after all, Brooklyn's current Borough President has his ethical challenges, but he's no cokehead. But the new description is kind of ominous nonetheless:
The gentrification blues

Sohn's good at referencing the class and style signifiers of gentrification, as well as registering generational frustration. One veteran Park Sloper thinks:
It was a strange feeling to live in a neighborhood you could no longer afford. You were the reason values had gone up, and yet you were invisible. 
In another passage, a woman who runs a chi-chi store on gentrifying Fourth Avenue reflects on her mixed feelings:
Hipsters now did beer runs on bicycles to the bars up and down the avenue. The Nets arena was going through; they had already broken ground and you could see it rising as you passed. Poor people would soon be booted out to make way for high-end retail shops. Rebecca had been part of the transformation, but it was taking off on its own. You walked down the same street a thousand times, and then one day, everything was different.
Just for the record, such trends, however representative of broader societal shifts, are also driven by policy: the state's override of city zoning to permit the arena, and the city's re-zoning of Fourth Avenue.

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