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June 14, 2011

Battle for Brooklyn

by John Anderson

Just one thumb, sorta up, from the Hollywood trade mag.

A chronicle of the years-long grassroots resistance to the design-, delay- and deception-plagued Atlantic Yards project in New York, "Battle for Brooklyn" might have been better titled "Boondoggle in Brooklyn." A battle ordinarily requires two sides, yet this earnest, ungracefully reconstructed saga posits that opposition to the building of the New Jersey Nets' future home took place in a virtual vacuum, and that the fix was in from the start. Failed crusades don't make for very inspiring cinema, and pic seems unlikely to galvanize followers in limited release, kicking off June 17 in Gotham.

It's not that helmers Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky don't have a decent story to tell: Billionaire developer Bruce Ratner had a plan and, abetted by the leading lights of New York politics, including the near-comedic Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz, believed nothing could stop him: He would use abandoned Long Island Railroad Yards to build a Frank Gehry-designed arena for his NBA team, with adjacent residential housing, in the middle of a flourishing neighborhood called Prospect Heights. If any inconvenient buildings on the periphery of his project stood in the way, he would simply get the appropriate agencies of New York State to condemn them under the rule of eminent domain.


NoLandGrab: "Abandoned" railroad yard? Hardly. But we'll defer to Norman Oder to review the review.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Variety pans Battle for Brooklyn, gets a few things right, but misses some fundamentals

Reviewer John Anderson, in my view, gets a few things right, but misses some fundamentals.

The "fix was in from the start," and that didn't need to be "posited."

Did opposition "take place in a virtual vacuum"? No, but that is one potential byproduct of choosing to tell a film as a drama, without the support, however awkward, of talking heads.

Posted by eric at June 14, 2011 10:30 AM