Tom RostonIndependent journalist Tom Roston checks in and writes about the world of documentaries in his column, Doc Soup.

You can follow Tom on Twitter @DocSoupMan.

Doc Soup: Revisiting the New York City of “Style Wars”

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Last week, as promised in a previous post, I finally sat down and watched the 1982 doc Style Wars, directed by Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant. I was really impressed by the film, and two days later, I was pleased to see the New York Times film critic A.O. Scott giving it a rave review as a Critics’ Pick video. Scott contextualizes his long-after-the-fact review by referring to the fact that we’re currently in a recession; the bleakness of our current era, perhaps, makes us fear that New York City may be returning to the bad old days of the 1970s.

Style WarsBut Style Wars shows that there was plenty of beauty poking up between the grime and filth. I remember that time period vividly (most of all, the screeching sound of the trains), and so I have to insist that anyone who lives in New York City, or cares about this city, should check out the film. From its breathtaking opening (which I mentioned during my Best Moments post), to the on-the-street interviews, and most of all to showing the great trains and graffiti of New York, Style Wars does more to recapture that era of New York City than any Serpico or Dog Day Afternoon or Tootsie ever could. Check out Scott’s review and then check out the film (it’s on Netflix so you don’t have an excuse not to).

Tom Roston
Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He comes to us as a ten-year veteran of Premiere magazine, where he was a Senior Editor, and where he wrote the column, Notes from the Dream Factory. Tom was born and raised in New York City. He graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom has also written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, GQ, New York, Elle and other publications. Tom's favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi - Godfrey Reggio 2. Hoop Dreams - Steve James 3. The Up series - Michael Apted 4. Crumb - Terry Zwigoff 5. Capturing the Friedmans - Andrew Jarecki