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Street Fight: A Film by Marshall Curry
Street Fight A Film by Marshall Curry
Actors: Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Cory Booker, Sharpe James, Pablo Fonseca
Director: Marshall Curry
Genres: Documentary, African American Cinema
NR     2009     1hr 21min

Studio: Magnolia Pict Hm Ent Release Date: 10/08/2009 Run time: 81 minutes Rating: Nr


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Movie Details

Actors: Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Cory Booker, Sharpe James, Pablo Fonseca
Director: Marshall Curry
Genres: Documentary, African American Cinema
Sub-Genres: Politics, African American Cinema
Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 09/29/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 00/00/2005
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 21min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A mind-blowing analysis of American Democracy, Media corrupt
Earl Hazell | New York | 12/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"One would think that a documentary about the 2002 mayoral race in Newark, New Jersey could have no relevance for anyone beyond history buffs in these final months of 2008. As a native New Yorker, I thought it had little relevance when I first heard about it being filmed in 2005, and continued to ignore it when it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary a year later. I was wrong then, and remained wrong up until moments ago, where I watched it via Netflix. Schopenhauer, the patron saint of Nietzsche, once said that there are three stages of an emerging truth. First, it is ignored. Second, it is violently opposed. And third, it is accepted as self-evident. If my willful ignorance of STREET FIGHT can be considered the symbolic first step regarding the emerging cultural truth it represents, and the first 100 days of President-elect Barack Hussein Obama can be considered the oncoming self-evident third, the story of Cory Booker--the local Obama before the national Obama came to be--as rendered in this magnificent documentary can be seen as the middle, violently opposed second step bridge to today's political epoch. Also, it may be seen as the clearest window to the change America needs--on all levels of government.

Cory Booker was an African-American child of highly educated, Civil Rights veterans, both of whom singlehandedly integrated the suburban town in New Jersey in which he was born and raised. He was raised, in that context, with a powerful sense of both pride and duty--of and to his people, his family, his mind, and his own destiny--all of which demanded he make good on the promise of his greatness. He attended Ivy League schools upon graduating high school; received a bachelor's degree from Stanford and his law degree (like Al Gore, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton) from Yale. His sense of duty, however, to the African-American people of New Jersey demanded he choose a path of public service. That led him first to the city council, and, subsequently, to the Democratic race for mayor against the long standing Democratic incumbent Sharpe James: a first generation child of the movement; a contemporary of Booker's parents; the Black mayor of Newark for sixteen years.

If this documentary were about the transformation of politics by virtue of another "youth vs. experience" battle dressed in Black, it would be entertaining enough, but almost meaningless. STREET FIGHT is far more. The 2002 mayoral race in Newark cut like a surgeon's knife through the epidermis of American Democracy to reveal the tumors, leeches and boils of free-market capitalism underneath, and its effect on the health of the entire nation. When the propaganda and gangsta politics of the incumbent mayor meet the growing street smarts, idealism and naïve optimism of the young challenger, the various forms of cultural neuroses facilitating the economic disenfranchisement inherent in the system is revealed. Neuroses about integrity, money, race and class kept frighteningly alive today, at the expense of all the people. Neuroses that have their origins in the slavery economy of our past. The mayoral race, indeed, begins to involve all the people: children, local police, local business owners, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Bill Clinton. The soul of the Democratic Party and the soul of the African-American community is put on display. And yet, throughout the playing out of the drama, the cult of personality and the Civil Rights rhetoric, only one side wants to discuss the actual issues affecting the people of Newark: crime; homelessness; job loss; a dilapidated educational system; poor health care; illegal drugs; severe inequality; and the near ownership of the city by slumlords and greedy developers.

With the "Cheney/Bush junta" years now almost behind us, it has been easy for us to paint Republicans with a broad brush, and project all of the faults of our democracy onto them. Books like WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS by Thomas Frank, and UP FROM CONSERVATISM by Michael Lind, seem to make the agenda behind propaganda and corrupt politics on the right, nurtured by a complicit media, so abundantly clear that such blame seems warranted. STREET FIGHT, however, makes it clear that corruption in politics does not discriminate. The 2002 Mayoral race in Newark shows, unequivocally, how democracy in America is profoundly, almost fatally wounded by an institutionalized corruption in the Democratic party on the local level that is beholden to institutionalized corruption in the Republican party on the national level. Both facilitated by a corrupt media. All serving an overarching hidden economic agenda that is, by its very nature, antithetical to democracy.

By the time STREET FIGHT is over, and the actual practices of both campaigns are put in the harshest light, one is left with a disturbing view of the democratic process in America, and an equally disturbing view of the cultural neuroses within the Black community as a whole in 2002--its people and its leaders. Both of which had to be confronted on the local level for Obama to be elected president, and must be overcome for actual change in our country to take place on the national level, in this the 21st century.

STREET FIGHT is more than a history lesson. It is a cultural analysis of what it is to be both American and African-American in our time, and a wake-up call to the courage and character the 21st century actually demands. It is also an unflinching look at how much our time can resemble the 19th century when the wrong political forces are pulling the strings. I cannot recommend this documentary to both political junkies and non-political junkies enough.

(P.S.: if you are not from the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut , or simply do not know or remember the outcome, don't spoil the ending by going to the internet until after you see it. It is profoundly uplifting.)
Man vs. Machine
Richard Hine | 05/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This brilliant, unflinching, unforgettable documentary will teach you more about the 2002 Mayoral election in Newark, New Jersey than you ever thought you wanted to know. Six years before Barack Obama's historic Presidential election, 32-year-old Cory Booker took on incumbent Mayor and fellow Democrat, 66-year-old Sharpe James. As Marshall Curry's film shows, it was the political equivalent of taking on the power of the Clinton machine, the "experience" of a John McCain and the say anything attitude of a Sarah Palin. Both candidates are African American. But before election day, Booker has been accused of "pallin' around" with everyone from the Republicans to the KKK If you're into both politics and fair play, STREET FIGHT is a movie that will make your head spin, your pulse quicken and your blood boil. Booker spends much of the movie hitting the streets, knocking on doors and shaking voters' hands. Toward the end of the movie, in an almost-too-good-to-be-true moment, one girl gets excited because she has been touched by Cory Booker. To prove it, she invites the cameraman to smell her hand. "What does he smell like?' she is asked. "He smells like the future," she replies."
Gritty and Suspenseful Documentary
Compay | New Orleans, LA | 01/12/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Street Fight is a gripping documentary that would appeal to voters from either end of the political spectrum. For anyone who considers politics to be boring, some of what happens in this piece is so amazing that it's hard to believe it's not fiction.

There's no Amazon overview, so here's a quick breakdown. Street Fight is an Oscar-nominated documentary that takes a hard look at the suspenseful events surrounding the 2002 Newark, New Jersey mayor's race. In one corner is Yale Law graduate Cory Booker, in the other corner is longtime incumbent mayor Sharpe James. What ensues is the campaign equivalent of Tyson-Holyfield II; the gloves come off, and the dirty tactics begin. If you think that you've seen dirty campaigning and smear tactics in modern politics, it won't hold a candle to what occurred during the 2002 mayoral race.

The documentary is focused largely on the activities of Cory Booker, although the viewer will understand that wasn't entirely by the director's choice. Marshall Curry shines a spotlight on the tension that exists within the Black community with respect to politics. The film offers an interesting glimpse at how Booker, a candidate that benefited from the Civil Rights Movement, finds himself at a disadvantage when his opponent paints him as an outsider.

Street Fight is raw, suspenseful, and ultimately a very emotional documentary. Regardless of your political affiliation, it's a must-watch film that exposes some of the ills that I think all of us are tired of seeing in politics."