Coming to theaters just as the Barclays Center emerges from behind partitioning at the northern tip of Prospect Heights, Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley's Battle for Brooklyn recounts the tireless anti-Atlantic Yards efforts of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn co-founder Daniel Goldstein. The documentary opens with a title-card definition of eminent domain,” and a scene of last holdout Goldstein standing up to the goons patrolling his condo building's rooftop. Instances of project-proponent doublespeak follow: Podium-banging Nets owner/AY developer Bruce Ratner invokes “the royal 'I'”; Sen. Chuck Schumer says job creation “enervates.” [sic] him; a Forest City Ratner VIP appears to spin displacement as a grand American tradition. Goldstein and friends propose less invasive alternative footprints, and then contest the legality of the state seizing their “blighted” property, at seven years' worth of rallies and hearings. Back at his Pacific Street HQ, overlooking the crater of the Vanderbilt Railyards, Goldstein calls off an engagement, and later starts a family with a fellow DDDB member. Battle for Brooklyn provides a useful primer on the opposition to Atlantic Yards, but figures who might have made more compelling documentary subjects than the always on-message Goldstein — such as the often-combative leadership of Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development, a community group whose tax filings reveal ties to Forest City Ratner; or City Councilwoman Letitia James, seen opposing AY both off-the-cuff and in rehearsed political tear-jearking — crowd the sidelines.
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