Nobody ever thinks they’re the bad guy, but in Amy Nicholson’s sly documentary about the redevelopment of Coney Island, the villains certainly damn themselves. The film juxtaposes images of a bustling midway with footage of City Council members and real-estate developers lovingly listing the “creative retailers” (Dave & Buster’s, Williams-Sonoma) they want to bring in to “revitalize” the neighborhood. Meanwhile, the titular ride and its operators serve as stand-ins for the nearly 50 amusements and local businesses that were casualties of the 2009 rezoning. Combining footage of embattled town meetings and raucous boardwalk scenes with evenhanded interviews and visualized statistics, Zipper is a compelling argument for a populist Coney Island whose days are, alas, numbered.
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