2008-05-02 / Top Stories

Movie Set In Rockaway Depicts Worst Of Peninsula

By Miriam Rosenberg

"Rockaway," the movie, was released on DVD in March. "Rockaway," the movie, was released on DVD in March. It's violent and it reinforces the worst that people believe about Rockaway - gangs, poverty and murder.

"Rockaway," a movie that was recently released on DVD, is about a soldier who returns to Rockaway - specifically the Beach 44 Street area - from Afghanistan after his wife and child are brutally murdered by Latino gang members under orders from Russians in Brighton Beach.

The movie was written and directed by brothers Jeffrey and Joshua Crook, who actually hail from Brooklyn.

Location shooting for the movie took place in Brooklyn, Los Angeles and parts of Rockaway, including Far Rockaway, with interiors shot in other parts of Queens.

Anyone from the area will recognize some of the exterior scenes as being shot in Rockaway, especially the shots around the Beach 44 Street subway station.

There are also scenes of the dunes, Rockaway's beachfront and boardwalk.

Yet, away from those areas the spotlight shines on the worst areas of blight in Rockaway and focuses on the worst about its people.

The movie stars Nicholas Gonzalez as Trane, the soldier who takes revenge on all those involved in the deaths of his family. Upon his arrival home, his old friend Dave (played by "Desperate Housewives'" star Ricardo Chavira) tells Trane the neighborhood has changed. It's been taken over by the gang that killed his wife and child.

Throughout the film's 77 minutes, heads are blown off and blood gushes everywhere. Even some of the local police turn out to be among the bad guys.

Besides the beach scenery and the Frank Avenue subway stop, there is really no way to tell that the movie takes place in Rockaway, although the location is mentioned once towards the end of the film, in press releases and on the back of the DVD box.

Jeffrey Crook explained why he and his brother decided to use Rockaway as the title of their film.

"We named the movie Rockaway because it takes place there," said Jeffrey Crook via e-mail through their PR representatives at GCI Group. "Ivan, if no one else, mentions it toward the end of the movie. It also sounded kind of catchy."

The brothers spent a lot of time in Rockaway while growing up, and it seems they have a love for the area.

"We grew up going to Riis Park and playing at Fort Tilden, and we've had friends who lived in Far Rockaway," continued Crook. "In more recent years, my brother Josh has taken to surfing off of Rockaway, and we kept a boat at one of the boatyards in Far Rockaway. We always thought it had a surreal feel because it seems like the end of the earth (being at the edge of the Atlantic) but it's still within the New York City limits. This is particularly true of the desolate part of the boardwalk where Dave's makeshift home is located. It is a one or two mile stretch along the beach that was wiped out by Hurricane Alice in 1969 that has never been rebuilt. It is completely overgrown. Just behind it, you have the elevated 'A' train running along the beach. Definitely one of the more interesting looking places in New York City."

While none of the Crook brothers' movies is for the faint of heart, and the movie is pure fiction, it does perpetuate the worst about Rockaway.

First Look Studios originally released "Rockaway" in theaters last July.

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I saw the movie, not for the faint of heart!

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