Street Fight

Rated NR

A documentary by Marshall Curry about the extremely dirty, old-school, party-machine tactics of Mayor Sharpe James in his unseemly bid to fend off golden-boy challenger Cory Booker in the 2002 Newark, N.J., mayoral election. James uses his grip on the police and fire departments to harass and terrorize Booker’s supporters. Booker must also endure James’ 1930s-style anti-Semitic slurs, race-baiting and lies. Director Curry does a great job immediately establishing the conflicts, characters and stories at play here, and he neatly and precisely follows the electioneering. This is almost a textbook case in good documentary filmmaking. It features some weird stuff that shows you where politics came from, and the place to which it’s always in danger of returning.

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