NYC On DVD

While stuck in bed with a cold, it becomes rather difficult to tell any tales of the Big Apple and the people that thrive in it, hence the reason why there were no posts last week.  But a clever mind is always at work.  While sipping tea and Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and taking the occasional dosage of Nyquil, I was able to view NYC via television.  When shut in the house with a cold, there is no greater time to break out the old DVD collection. 

Since I was unable to experience New York City first hand, I did the next best thing, I watched movies about it.  While eating a bowl of ice cream or two (to soothe my sore throat, of course), I riffled through my vast DVD collection and came up with my list for the best NYC movies.  These movies were chosen because they used Manhattan as another character.  Part of the movie’s success is because it is set in New York City and the movie may not have worked if the location was elsewhere.  Also these films used NYC landmarks in ingenious ways. 

10.   It Could Happen to You – This feel good tale about a cop and a waitress is sure to pull on anyone’s heartstrings.  Really, isn’t wonderful to think that a person might offer half of their potential lottery earnings in lieu of a tip?  It is as unbelievable as unicorns in Central Park, but that is the reason why it is so endearing.    My favorite scene in the movie is when Charlie Lang and Yvonne Biasi, played by Nicholas Cage and Bridget Fonda, take the neighborhood kids to Yankee Stadium. They run through the house that Ruth built, chew wads of gum like it was tobacco and received a picture of themselves catching a fly ball.  I’m an adult and I would pay to have an outing as cool as that one.  The movie also captures wonderful views of the Plaza Hotel as both Charlie and Yvonne check in there to recuperate from their deteriorating relationships and discover their love for each other.  When the instant millionaires lose everything, New Yorkers band together to help them out and shows that the true beauty of New York is not in its landscapes, but in its resiliency.

9.     42nd Street – This musical is set during Depression era Manhattan and has seen many incarnations on Broadway.  I believe the reason why this musical has endured is because it is a play about one of the most magical places in the world, Broadway.  42nd Street takes the viewer through a stage production from soup to nuts and provides a few great numbers along the way.  My favorite songs are “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” and of course “42nd Street”, which I sang in the school chorus as a child. Like I said, I grew up in a household where musicals ruled. 

8.     On the Town – What would a movie list about New York be without Frank Sinatra?  This musical, based on a Broadway play, also stars the incomparable Gene Kelly, one of the best dancers/choreographers that ever lived.  The movies highlights the Manhattan of the 40s as three sailors, played by Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Jules Munshin, go tracing around the streets of New York looking for love on a temporary pass.  The Museum of Natural History, Empire State Building, Carnegie Hall and Coney Island are all shown in their heyday.  On the Town is one of the best musicals to come out of the MGM hit factory, the dancing is incredible, and the songs are infectious.  It is a wonderful movie about a wonderful town.

7.     The Mirror Has Two Faces – Unless you look like new mom Gisele Bündchen or Naomi Campbell, I’m quite sure that you have felt like an ugly duckling every once in while.  Also if you have siblings I’m sure you have experienced your share of sibling rivalry.  This delightful romantic comedy explores body issues, sibling rivalry, dating insecurity and relationships between parents and children – best of all these issues are shrewdly explored through an adult point of view.  Starring Barbara Streisand, Jeff Bridges and the immortal Lauren Bacall, The Mirror Has Two Faces shows how two Columbia professors, both scorned by love, try to take love out of the equation only to realize they are a perfect match.  Only in New York can jadedness turn into romance.  Also, the film shows great shots of Tavern on the Green and Central Park in spring.  

6.    Die Hard:  With a Vengeance – NYC is a place of constant action, after all it has been dubbed as “the city that never sleeps.”  Die Hard: With a Vengeance certainly serves up a lot of action all over Manhattan.  Starting on the streets of Harlem the movie takes us all over the city and underneath with heart stopping explosions, mind bending riddles and a heist of the Federal Reserve.  Reprising his role as NYPD officer John McClane, Bruce Willis throws a monkey wrench in the plans of another Gruber brother.  Simon Peter Gruber, brilliantly played by Jeremy Irons, uses McClane, sending him and all of the NYPD on wild goose chases all over city only to clear downtown of cops so he could rob the Federal Reserve.  Along for the ride is Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Zeus Carver, the sidekick for this edition of the Die Hard franchise.  His loudly pitched banter with McClane helps to keep the pace of the movie.  I’m a girl that loves a little action in her life and Die Hard: With a Vengeance provides it in spades.

5.    Home Alone 2:  Lost in New York  – New York is named in the title; it had to be on the list.  Home Alone and Home Alone 2 are two of my favorite Christmas movies.  Set in NYC at Christmas time, Home Alone 2 is a fabulous showcase of the city during the holidays.  As Kevin McCallister, played by Macaulay Culkin, battles with the “Sticky Bandits”, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, he also learns lessons about the spirit of giving and friendship.  The co-star of this holiday comedy is definitely New York City as the Plaza Hotel, Carnegie Hall, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty and more are showcased.  The film also shows the awe-inspiring beauty of Rockefeller Center at Christmas. 

4.    Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist Where’s Fluffy? is the theme for this New York City movie as Nick and Norah, played by Michael Cera and Kat Dennings, and their friends chase the band Where’s Fluffy? all over the city to witness an impromptu concert.  Along the way the “bridge and tunnel” teens realize they not only like the same types of music, they also like each other.  While on their quest to find the elusive band, they discover love as the movie showcases different bars on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.  A poignant moment is shared between the two at one of the most famous musical landmarks in New York City, Electric Lady Studios.  The charm of this movie for me is that it showcases a typical Friday night in the city for a teenager trying to play an adult and reminds me of when I used to bar hop at that age.  Now, I legally bar hop.

3.     25th Hour – Everyone wishes for more hours during the day, especially if it is the day before you start a prison sentence.  It is certainly the case for Monty Brogan, played by Edward Norton, as he takes the viewer through his last day as free man which is full of reflection, regret, suspicion and anger.  Directed by Brooklynite Spike Lee, 25th Hour also captures the somber of mood of New York City directly after the 9/11 attacks.  Monty is a microcosmic reflection of the city.  I love how Spike captures Monty’s lost mood through shots of the countless posters of the missing that were everywhere during that time and Tribute of Light at the World Trade Center site – blue shadows of what was once there. Another aspect Spike showcases in the film is NYC nightlife, an integral part of the culture of New York.  Although I get a serious knot in my stomach every time I watch this film, the main reason why I love it is because it shows the resiliency of New York City at a time when the world was watching to see if this city would remain on its knees.  Monty faces the most difficult time in his life without running, although his father offers to help him go on the lam, and the viewer knows at the end that whatever happens in the future Monty will survive and so will New York City.

2.     The Thomas Crown Affair  – Like Thomas Crown, played by Pierce Brosnan, I also love the Met.  My favorite place to go in the Met is the Temple Of Dendur, but unlike Thomas Crown, I don’t have the moxie or money to steal it.  Simmering, sexy and stylish, The Thomas Crown Affair is an adequate remake of the Steve McQueen classic.  As insurance investigator and vixen Catherine Banning, played by Rene Russo, chases Crown all over the city and the Caribbean to catch her man she gets more than what she bargained for as the cat becomes mouse in a game of love.  Besides the fashion Rene Russo wears and the storyline, I would watch this movie time and again just to see the Met.

1.   Sex and the City:  The Movie – New York City has always been the true star of this franchise and no other television series pays homage to New York City they way Sex and the City did.  The movie merely picks up where the series left off.   Four years after the series ended the ladies who made cosmopolitans cosmopolitan come together for more tales of heartbreak, love, romance and of course sex.  Like the series, Sex and the City: The Movie is a love letter to anyone that loves NYC, fashion and the HBO Series.  Highlighting the New York Public Library, Bryant Park during Fashion Week and the Meatpacking District, New York City lives up to its role as the silent star of the movie; I can’t wait for the sequel.

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