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9 September 2010 (USA)  »

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Compelling documentary
27 November 2010 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

What ever happened to the Rust Belt? This lovingly photographed documentary will give you an idea as it focuses on those left behind by the death of the steel industry -- as well as newcomers who wish to work in its wake.

This documentary has such a boring title. But its parade of portraits is extremely appealing. You have an eccentrically elegant 89-year-old artist in a house full of chotchkes, a wheelbarrow-toting man who chose Braddock as a site for urban agriculture, a grizzled military veteran who gives his beloved pigeons and exotic roosters the run of his house, and a young widow who casually notes the sound of gunfire in the distance.

Most memorable is Braddock's fireplug of a mayor -- a young man whose personal commitment to the borough is documented by the local ZIP code he has tattooed on his arm -- along with the death dates of victims of area street violence.

I grew up in Pittsburgh, yet I never knew about the charms of neighboring Braddock. I'll look forward to taking a more appreciative drive-through the next time I go home to see my folks.

But I think this film will also have awakened my appreciation of lots of other places that time may seem to have passed by. If you look, there's lots that is left...

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