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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Politics > City > Crime > TV > Brick City – The Complete Series (2009/First Run Features DVD)

Brick City – The Complete Series (2009/First Run Features DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Episodes: B



One of the best documentary mini-series from TV in a while, Brick City shows the hard work of Newark, New Jersey Major Cory Booker taking the reigns after several tries win that seat, but blocked by the controversial Sharp James.  I was particularly unhappy with the criminal doings by James after seeing the remarkable 2005 documentary Street Fight, which you can read more about at this link:





As expected, Booker has been turning the city slowly around while James allowed the crime rate to soar and people to kill each other in record umbers, not taking responsibility for anything to the point that the government finally targeted him in court, but that is another story we look forward to visiting soon.


It is late 2008 and the cameras of Marc Levin and Mark Benjamin have been allowed rare access to Booker as he fights to keep budgets under control, keep peace in city neighborhoods, get a long-gestating new high school building finished and cut the murder rate by being as proactive as possible with the resources he has.  As was apparent in the 2005 documentary, Booker was serious about trying to fix things and make a once prosperous city a success again.


Forest Whittaker jumped on this project with his support, all the way to hosting the shows which appeared originally on The Sundance Channel.  Five hour-long shows were compiled and are far superior to any trivial “reality TV” that it embarrasses those insults to us all.  Here, we see inner-city America in microcosm as character study of it and the people who live there.  This is the real must-see TV and is highly recommended.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is a good mix of newly shot footage for the most part, but also the occasional vintage video clip and degraded video clip.  Editing is never too fancy and we do get more soft footage than expected, but in fairness, some of it is location shooting that can only be so sharp.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo can be flat at times, along with location audio flaws, but is consistently good for the most part, usually featuring talking.  Extras include 25 deleted scenes, Whittaker’s intros and interviews with the directors that includes behind-the-scenes footage.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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