BookWars

Capsule by Lisa Alspector
From the Chicago Reader


Leading up to the political by beginning with the personal, Jason Rosette chronicles the experiences of used-book sellers on the streets of Manhattan. With more candor than confession, he explains in poetic voice-over that isn't just an affectation how he went from NYU student to bookseller to filmmaker and presents compassionate but unsentimental portraits of his colleagues, who also speak eloquently for themselves. The largely chronological documentary ranges through the 90s, ultimately showing the effects of Mayor Giuliani's "quality of life" campaign on book vending and on the filmmaker. Rosette's humility and vision make the idea that there's something noble about selling used literature to pedestrians both persuasive and inspiring: it provides a public service and lets the provider earn money without becoming enslaved by capitalism. 79 min.