Mulberry St. ★★★★½

Adam Cook compares this to ITALIANAMERICAN, moving outside the apartments of Italian-Americans and onto the streets to mingle, and I can't really top that observation. But where Scorsese's doc was intimate, filtering an entire ethnic history through his parents (Scorsese is always at his best when he suggests massive histories through only one or two central characters), Ferrara's is freewheeling, where any civilian or local celeb can wander into the frame at any moment and strike up a conversation. And where ITALIANAMERICAN was an elegy for the old country as second- and third-generation immigrants became ensconced in the community, MULBERRY ST is a requieum for that neighborhood itself, with people waxing nostalgic on its earlier, dangerous days compared to the post-Giuliani city, sanitized for the benefit of tourists as the actual residents become a second thought.

And then there's Ferrara, who jumps into the fray to air his own thoughts and especially grievances (there are regular rants about a producer who screwed him on distribution for his buried gem GO-GO TALES). Ferrara's films are always self-reflexive and revealing of the artist's struggles, so why shouldn't the director force himself in the way of his nonfiction, too? The film is an utter delight, with colorful interviewees, Ferrara's brand of off-kilter, even cynical humanism, and even a few glimpses into his working process when he rails against RED cameras that limit his bare-bones method to him reviewing footage and complaining of its bad color. In an ideal world, this and GO-GO TALES would be on a properly cared-for Blu-Ray disc. Fingers crossed.