— Robin Write (@WriteoutofLA) September 11, 2015
King Kong (1933)
Brainless mockery of the visual effects on display in the 1933 version of King Kong are not welcome. This is a terrific achievement, both now as we lavish in the adventure today, but more importantly back then. I would just love to go back and see this kind of monster movie in the early years of cinema. Good old-fashioned beauty and the beast tale, taken full throttle from the unknown wild into the naive modern world. We’ve all dreamed of climbing those sky-scrapers in New York, well, this is where the dreams all began.
New York has often been the setting for the competitive dating scene, here Jennifer Westfeldt and Heather Juergensen concoct a screenplay about the very notion of same-sex dating. Although a comedy, and one of high emotional intellect, Kissing Jessica Stein pops pins into the map of the human heart as well as the brain. What really attracts us? How do we know if we don’t try? It doesn’t essentially matter if Jessica dipping her toe into the new-relationship dynamic secures her preference for men or women, we just have a lot of fun fining out.
As perfect a film as you could ask for, Billy Wilder’s The Apartment blends drama and comedy so effectively it is like they are two sides of the same genre. Featuring career highs, performance-wise, from Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, they provide a touching bond, growing through personal problems and mutual attraction. The Apartment is also honest about the pot-holes we trip over, while embracing the lighter, warmer side of life. We can have tough times, sure, but there’s nothing quite like leading with your heart. Sometimes that’s the way it crumbles, cookie-wise.
Is there such a thing as Woody Allen being at his glitzy, wacky best? Resorting back to near slapstick at times, Bullets Over Broadway is more intelligent than it appears. Crossing the comical side of the gangster world, as a talent-less moll and inspiring crook team up with a young playwright who all the while is becoming embroiled with the older leading lady. Allen is having a lot of fun here, setting the scene for a wonderfully lush Broadway satire, but his smart dialogue and characterization keep it just about believable.
The New York folk music scene of the 1960s is a truly compelling subject for film, whether our protagonist is a bit of a loser or not. Under the reliable authorship of the Coen Brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis was going to be difficult to resist. A much more grounded, you could argue personal, execution for the often hyperactive Coens, this still packs a punch in their trademark oddball dark humor. Also beautifully lit throughout, some piercing performances, and several music numbers worth the admission price alone.
Clearly best known for The Silence of the Lambs, Jonathan Demme absolutely hit the mark a few years earlier also, but in a rather different genre. A spunky mafia comedy, full to the brim with characters of all shapes and sizes, soaking up the various plot-strands with zany humor and effortless energy. Married to the Mob has a real treat in its cast. The likes of Matthew Modine, Dean Stockwell, Mercedes Ruehl, Oliver Platt, Alec Baldwin, and Nancy Travis all form a winning ensemble, but the glowing Michelle Pfeiffer is the shiny cherry on top.
Sidney Lumet was a force to be reckoned with at the time, but with the brilliant television industry satire Network, a lot of the accolades fall on Paddy Chayefsky. His stunning screenplay is so immaculately structured, with some of the most penetrating, super-smart dialogue cinema has ever had the pleasure of hearing out loud. The acting was so incredible (Holden, Finch, Dunaway, Duvall, Straight, Beatty), even AMPAS honored the film with three of the four acting Oscars that year. Many would argue Network not winning Best Picture was more of a talking point.
A tongue-in-cheek take on the kind of joyful, song-and-dance routine we endure with conventional Disney movies, Enchanted is actually quite tough to resist as it turns out. Amy Adams is a sheer delight as she portrays the princess transported from her animated world to live-action New York City. Disney music legend Alan Menken is back in business with this, whether this kind of glitzy romance adventure is your kind of thing or not, I challenge you to get those songs out of your head afterwards.
Oh not again McCallisters. I suppose the natural response is Poor Kevin, except as far as we can tell as we venture into the second Home Alone movie, he appears to be having a great time without his family. That is of course not the message best endorsed here, as Kevin once again finds himself scrambling from danger as classically poor crooks Harry and Marv bump into him again. Like the first film, the New York adventure has just the right amount of Tom-and-Jerry capers and family-values sentimentality to please many a crowd.
Before the success of The Theory of Everything, James Marsh directed the documentary Man on Wire, which scooped the Academy Award for Documentary Feature. The film focuses on Philippe Petit, who in 1974, if you haven’t somehow heard already, walked on a high-wire between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. This is a priceless account of a man with seemingly no fear of such an astonishing feat, something so incredibly dangerous and so hard to fathom, it actually becomes something of a suspense movie to some degree. An experience not to be missed.
The first 9 New York films?