BOOKWARS

A gritty, low-fi documentary about Manhattan's street booksellers which abounds in fascinating detail. The director and narrator, Jason Rosette, shows how bookselling is the kissing cousin of another urban art form: drug dealing. Both require a knowledge of profitable corner locations, an experienced eye for for potential addicts, and a steady supply of mood-altering substances. In the case of books, you want to be holding works by Carlos Casteneda and Kurt Vonnegut, perennial best sellers on the street. It's a hardscrabble existence: most street booksellers do not vend stolen books; they rely on church fairs, garbage-picking, and the state of New Jersey-"land of the two dollar book."

Unlike most war pics, the underdogs don't win in the end: Mayor Giuliani's quality-of-life campaign dispersend much of the community captured here.

Michael Agger