7th Street (2002) Review

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Where have all the homeless gone?

7th Street (2002): 5 out of 10: Nostalgia about one’s childhood is a dangerous thing. It permeates 7th street where Josh Pais is too close to the subject as he bemoans the loss of the crime-ridden hellhole of his youth and worries about the gentrification of said block. (There are outdoor cafes now and people are drinking lattes oh the horror the horror.) 

That said, it is a fascinating documentary with a great group of people (especially Rino Thunder who was his mother’s occasional boyfriend.) In fact, this is quite the high production home movie with many interviews with the family who often counteract Mr. Pais’s thesis about the neighborhood change and when Mr. Thunder falls on hard times, the change is so dramatic there are more forces at work than the neighborhood cleaning itself up. 

Cat on roof East 7th Street, Alphabet City, NY 1989

I wish we had spent even more time with Mr. Thunder after the change and less on Mr. Pais’s childhood (especially the endless footage of his late mother and how she was at the center of an art revolution. She comes across as a kind of, how does one put this nicely, party girl.)Mr. Pais’s brother in a hilarious and all too short clip reminisces on his reaction to finding Marcel Marceau in his living room one morning. He doesn’t hold the neighborhood (or mimes) to his heart and seemed glad to escape.

There is a staged and telling scene at the end where an adult Mr. Pais and his friend play in a fire hydrant while yuppies look on disapprovingly, his point is lost in the fact he looks silly. There are some things from childhood we just let go.

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