I, and many of us, need little reason at all to remember and celebrate movies. Oh not New York again. Er yeah. We remember 2001 today, which affected America and the world. All the more reason to embrace the movies, and New York has been venue to many, many great movies. I plucked 20 from my memory that I would recommend, so when you get a couple of hours to yourself, put your feet up, and pick at least one of these fine movies. Here’s a starter 9:
Why am I breaking a list of 20 into 9 and 11? Oh come on…
Sunday in New York (1963)
Visiting her brother in New York City, recently dumped Eileen (Jane Fonda) seeks relationship advice from her brother Adam (Cliff Robertson) before intending to seduce a complete stranger. That would be Mike (Rod Taylor), also visiting New York, but their potentially romantic exchanges that day hit all kind of bumps. There’s mistaken identity and misunderstandings, and plenty of comic one-liners, as well as charming, engaging performances from the principles.
The Last Days of Disco (1998)
Whit Stillman reminded us of his social class lifestyle grasp he competently executed in his early work, Metropolitan and Barcelona. The Last Days of Disco throws us straight into the New York City night-life scene, primarily the young adults, love-failed Bourgeois, at the turn of the eighties – and the apparent decline of the disco scene. As ever Stillman’s intelligent, flamboyant dialogue flows like water, somehow we want to spend time hearing these social misfits talk.
Frances Ha (2013)
Considering its black and white palette, and our at-a-dead-end heroine, Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha is one of the most comforting New York movies around. I watch it and want to be lounging about with Frances, hoping I know my future is assured, leaping about the streets to David Bowie’s Modern Love, pulling all manner of quirky faces. In many ways a perfect movie, the light-hearted tone and narration only add to the film’s utter charm.
Who doesn’t love Ghostbusters? New York City is in danger again, this time it is greedy-chops blobs of green slime, potential girlfriends that turn into dogs, and of course a giant Stay Puft marshmallow man. Venkman, Stanz, Spengler, and Zeddemore don their jump-suits and proton packs, and all manner of paranormal, sometimes slapstick, always entertaining, shenanigans ensue. Witty, wacky, and timeless classic comedy indeed.
The Funeral (1996)
Abel Ferrara’s New York set family gangster 1930s drama The Funeral knocks you out of your socks on first viewing. And is still a shock the second and third times. I won’t spoil it here, only to say the movie about the funeral of a brother is gripping from start to finish, and closes in chaos and further turmoil. A great cast includes Christopher Walken, Chris Penn, Vincent Gallo, Gretchen Mol, Annabella Sciorra, Isabella Rossellini, and Benicio del Toro.
Who’s That Knocking at My Door (1967)
Two very young men make their film debuts with Who’s That Knocking at My Door – Harvey Keitel stars in his first role as an actor, and Martin Scorsese directorial starter. In many ways the drama acts as a kind of blueprint for the director’s future ventures (Mean Streets, even Goodfellas in parts), with the social gallivanting around the streets of New York. Though this does fall heavier on actual human relations rather than violence, and works perfectly well in that vain.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Although predominantly shot in the UK, Eyes Wide Shut was set in New York – and made to look so. Often described as an erotic thriller, Stanley Kubrick’s final film for me is much more of a fascinatingly drawn out and tense affair – though certainly sexually-fueled from all kinds of perspectives. At times like a dripping tap in terms of building suspense and intrigue, Kubrick famously broke records for the lingering shoot. Perhaps fatigue shows effectively on-screen with Tom Cruise, who appears in pretty much every scene.
When Harry Met Sally… (1989)
New York City became the city of love again with the Nora Ephron-penned, Rob Reiner-helmed, simply marvelous comedy When Harry Met Sally… Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan might not have been as good as this in any other part of their respective careers. I am a huge fan of this, Reiner’s directed captures the humor and romance in perfect timing, while Ephron’s smart, sassy, extremely witty screenplay explores a vast array of elements of the process of building a relationship.
Combining the found-footage sub-genre with the classic monster movie, Cloverfield is a perfectly entertaining time-passer. There is not much new or original here, but the film plods along nicely, ticking many of the right boxes we want in a horror B-movie. With plenty of New York City locations taking a pounding here, the famous sequence seeing the Statue of Liberty’s head come bouncing, clunking down the street is pretty iconic.
The other 11 New York films?