The Good

A movie that really gets to heart of the political machine.

The Bad

This movie should have been longer.

Cory Booker, a 32 year old Yale Law graduate decides to run for Mayor of Newark, NJ. However, he finds himself up against incumbent Sharpe James and from the word go things get ugly. There is voter intimidation, campaign harassment and other goings on, as we see that local politics can be just as ugly as National ones. Since Newark is a small area (when compared with the rest of the world), we are given a very interesting look at the "on the street" campaign process. It is as grassroots as they come but it soon becomes clear that larger forces want Sharpe James in power. At it's core this film is about the Old Guard vs. the New Guard and just how resistant to change a lot of people can be.

Director, editor, producer Marshall Curry follows Cory Booker but he isn't trying to do a smear job on Sharpe James. At it's core this film is a very interesting look at who we are as country, how we look and think about one another, and how those perceptions can be manipulated. Street Fight is the kind of movie that sadly goes unnoticed when it shouldn't.

Features

Interview With Director Marshall Curry

The questions appear on the screen in white on black titles and then we see Curry answer them. They range from why he wanted to make this film, to how he got granted the access that he did, to what he was hoping to accomplish by making this documentary. There isn't anything too amazing about this section, but it does open up a lot about how the film was made. We get to hear about shooting conditions, his personal impressions of the candidates, and just about everything else viewers probably wondered as they screened this film.

Video

Full Screen. Standard Version: Presented in a format preserving the aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition. This movie was obviously a low budget endeavor of the highest order, but Curry really shows what you can do with a digital camera and modern digital editing software. This film has a very immediate feel about it, but that's probably because Marshall Curry was basically a one man show on this production. It was almost refreshing to see a documentary that didn't get caught up in the artifice that other filmmakers fall into.

Audio

Dolby Digital. Considering the many different places that this film was shot in, I was surprised that the sound was as good as it was. Marshall Curry seems to have a very good sense of where he needs to be in terms of camera placement and everything else. I never felt like I was straining to hear anything, and that is saying something considering that a lot of this story takes place at various rallies for each candidate.

Package

Cory Booker is featured on this front cover as he speaks to the masses. There are other pictures from the movie, but they have slyly used a red, white and blue color scheme to separate everything out. The back offers up some pictures from the movie, critics quotes, a description of the film, a cast list, and technical specs. This film is an important look at politics. Sadly, this packaging doesn't make it stand out but it the film itself does.

Final Word

For some reason, just by looking at the packaging, I knew that I was going to like this film. I can only imagine the amount of footage that Marshall Curry had to work with, but he really seems to have cut through all the red tape and made this movie very easy to understand. You don't have to be from New Jersey, you don't have to know anything about the political process, other than that it comes down to two people and which one can get their message out most effectively.

Street Fight is a great movie because it manages to convey all of it's ideas without really stacking the deck. Sure it presents a case for who should probably be the Mayor of Newark, I got the impression that Curry was much more fair than other documentary filmmakers.

Street Fight was released January 1, 2005.