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12:35 p.m. - 2011-04-22
The City on Film

A 'from memory' list of my favorite New York movies.

'When Harry Met Sally'
'Finding Forrester'
'Crossing Delancey'
'The Warriors'
'Saturday Night Fever'
'Fort Apache, The Bronx'
'The Thomas Crown Affair'
(Remake w/ Brosnan and Russo)
'Dog Day Afternoon'
'Escape From New York'
'Do The Right Thing'
'The Night We Never Met'
'My Man Godfrey'
'The Mirror Has Two Faces'
'Gangs of New York'
'King Kong'
'You Don't Mess With The Zohan'
'As Good As It Gets'
'The French Connection'
'Jungle Fever'
'Torch Song Trilogy'
'84 Charing Cross Road'

There are many, many more, of course. I know the last on the list is a transatlantic love affair that is set more in London than NYC, but it counts because Helene Hanff as voiced by Anne Bancroft is a quintessential NYer. Actually now that I look at the list I see Anne Bancroft is in three of them. I always liked her.

Nowhere on this list is a single one of Woody Allen's movies. In many ways Woody Allen and NYC cinema are parasitic twins, but after an early love affair with Woody Allen (fan love, not physical, ew) I gave up on him. His movies might have been set in New York and to many he represents all things neurotic and wise ass about the city I love, but that thing with his step-daughter grossed me out so much I can't deal. Feh. Ugh. P-tooey.

I don't have strict criteria of what makes a film a 'New York movie'. Like the definition of obscenity, I know it when I see it. Being set in NYC, no doubt. But there's movies that take place in the city but aren't necessarily 'New York movies'. For me it has to do with the city being essential. A character in and of itself. That you couldn't pick the story up and plop it down in Los Angeles or Seattle and have it be the same. Think about Popeye Doyle in his ratty Pontiac tear assing around Ames, Iowa. Doesn't work, does it? Whereas a movie like 'Working Girl' could be transplanted, no prob. Boston, maybe. Philly, or even London. Any city that has a distinct upper crust and working class and the accents to go with them would do just fine.

Sorry, didn't mean to lecture. In an effort not to undo my hard work at the gym I've been dosing myself with movies instead of junk food so I'm all things cinematic right now. The gym, btw, is going fine. Changed my strategy a little and instead of working on speed I'm upping the distance on the treadmill. I'm getting my strength back pretty quickly, my biceps are getting bulgy! But my endurance is for shit. So at each workout I've been lengthening my trudge to nowhere. I figure when I can do 5 miles in a straight shot then I'll start speeding up again. A fairly arbitrary goal, for certain. Not training to race, it just helps to have something definite to aim for. I'm more goal oriented than I think I am. Still only compete against myself though. Somewhere along the line I internalized the idea that trying to best someone else was bad form. Perhaps it was my mother's constant smack-downs about how I shouldn't show up my little sister. She being younger and dyslexic thus at a disadvantage and my being better than she at anything from grades to tree climbing to Monopoly was 'mean' on my part. Nutty, but there it is. All I know is that to this day if I win at anything I feel wildly uncomfortable and ashamed. Like I did something gross and underhanded. Another demented neurosis for me to untangle, I suppose.

Anyhoodle, back to movies. What are your favorite geographically specific films? Doesn't have to be a New York movie, of course. But I'm sure nearly everybody has a beloved movie because of where it's set rather than just what the film's about. A movie that was done in a place you love or in a place you always wanted to go to. Or hell, even a movie that was filmed in your hometown and whether you like the actual movie or not it gives you a thrill to see your places on screen?

Cinematically curious, ~LA

8 Wanna talk about it!

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