Jesse Jarnow

chop shop

Every Mets fan should see Chop Shop, which is at the Film Forum until Tuesday, and hopefully other art houses in other cities at other times. Though leads Alejandro Polanco and Isamar Gonzales are a bit melodramatic in places as adolescent brother and 16-year old sister Ale and Isamar, it’s still a valuable evocation of life in Willets Point, the scrapyard neighborhood bordering Shea Stadium. New Yorkers are long used to seeing movies set in the boroughs, but Willets Point — whose streets aren’t paved — might as well be another planet, even compared to projects and tenements and other slums.

Chop Shop has most often been compared to City of God, and that’s probably fair, both plots grown wholly from geographic/economic circumstances — in this case, Ale’s dream to open a food cart. There is little interaction between the neighborhood and the ballpark, but the economic chasm is constantly on display, the stadium lights sometimes seeming like alien backdrops. There is also, of course, quiet transcendence and something like authentic human life. With the construction of CitiField comes a looming threat of gentrification and Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to have the area leveled/redeveloped. Chop Shop is a world that might soon be destroyed.


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