BookWars (NR) 3 Stars out of 4 Star Star Star
By Chris Dickerson
Daily Mail Movie Reviewer
Granted, it doesn't seem that the story of a group of
people who sell books on the streets of New York City would
make for much of a film.
"BookWars" proves that wrong. In the process, it also
proves that documentaries don't have to be mind-numbing
exercises in pomposity.
Jason Rosette wrote, directed, produced, edited and stars
in this 77-minute glimpse into the sometimes fascinating
world of street booksellers.
The first part of the movie introduces viewers to a
colorful group of men Rosette meets when he begins selling
his books. Among them are Peter Whitney, an artist and
insect/animal expert; Slick Rick, a magician and wiseguy;
Marvin, a recovering alcoholic; and Polish Joe, the "smoker
of 100 cigarettes."
In addition to meeting a few of the regular customers, the
viewer also is taken on searches for books, which are
portrayed as treasured works of art. Rosette's comparison
of book selling to drug dealing is amazingly accurate in
The second half of the movie deals with the booksellers'
struggles with city officials. Under Mayor Rudolph
Guiliani's "Quality of Life" push to clean up the city,
NYPD officers begin being more strict and try to get the
sellers' tables off the street corners.
While enforcing the city's new rules, the cops can't help
but browse through the books. Nearby New York University
also tries to push the sellers away.
Sometimes Rosette, who also serves as narrator (sounding
eerily like William Shatner at times), waxes a little too
poetic about the life of a bookseller and about books in
general. But that comes from his love of the entire scene,
so at least it's sincere.
The documentary will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2 at the
Charleston House Holiday Inn as part of the West Virginia
Library Association's Convention 2000. The showing is free
and open to the public. The showing is co-sponsored by the
West Virginia International Film Festival and the West
Virginia Library Association.
The Fall Film Festival opens Nov. 3 at the West Virginia
State College Capital Theater on Summers Street. Check
www.wviff.org for a schedule of films. (The official
BookWars site is at www.camerado.com.)