Monday, 2 March 2009

The Bronx is up and the Battery's down ...

As I look around my immediate vicinity the following items are within eyeshot: a postcard of Marilyn Monroe standing in front of a sign for Grand Central Station, a CD of New York Noise: Dance Music From The New York Underground 1978-1982, an accompanying book of amazing photographs from the same era, two Time Out New York City guidebooks (one bought for my 18th birthday, one bought two days ago), Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, my Sex And The City DVD boxset, J. P. Donleavy’s A Fairy Tale Of New York, a large wall print of the inside of Grand Central itself (the one where all the men are in hats and the sun is pouring through the windows), a photograph of the very tip of Manhattan taken in the 1930s where tiny five-storey buildings sit just a couple of hundred metres from the water's edge, Sex And The City: Kiss And Tell, the complete guidebook to the TV series (I know, gay), a framed movie poster for Next Stop, Greenwich Village, James St James’ Disco Bloodbath

My flat is in a pretty New York state of mind to say the least. But enough of trying to bring New York to me, enough of Manhattanchester, I’m off there for real. Not forever, alas, just six glorious days and five action-packed nights on the edge of the East Village in the last week of April. We’ll be staying at Hotel 17 where Woody Allen filmed part of Manhattan Murder Mystery. Madonna stayed there too, though it must have been a while ago given it has one a half stars and a shared bathroom.

Anyway, to celebrate this exciting trip here are some of my favourite New York City celluloid outings which I will be indulging in before I head off myself ...

Breakfast At Tiffany’s (Blake Edwards, 1961)
Glamour on the cheap, except actually it’s Givenchy, as Hepburn gives her greatest performance (no, it is), dragging Capote’s story kicking and screaming to the screen alongside a hip sexy young Hannibal from the A-Team and Roald Dahl’s wife.

The Panic In Needle Park (Jerry Schatzberg, 1971)
Al Pacino plays a junkie attempting to hold onto the most basic of human obligations whilst surrounded by smack and trapped in a New York that’s falling apart as fast as his friends are.

Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, 1975)
Not only one of my favourite New York films but one of my favourite films of all time. Pacino again, this time orchestrating a botched bank raid to pay for his boyfriend’s sex change, thus exposing their relationship to the world. He becomes the hero of the piece, Stockholm Syndrome abounds, and even the new Gay Lib turn up to support him. Features one of the finest supporting roles of all time by Chris Sarandon and it’s a true story to boot.

"Why don't you kiss me? I like to be kissed while I'm getting fucked ..." Pacino becoming a folk hero. ‘Attica!’ refers to the Attica prison riots of 1971 which exposed police and correctional facility brutality like never before.

On The Town (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1949)
Marvel at Gene Kelly’s perfect rear (and Sinatra’s fake padded one) as three randy sailors dry-hump their way around Manhattan in 24 hours. The other guy is just there to stop the two stars looking a bit fruity which is why nobody remembers who he is. Best bits are the 'New York, New York’ signature tune, the nightclub montage and Sinatra attempting to conceal a patently Hoboken accent whilst convincing us it’s his first time in the Big Apple. Wonderful stuff.

Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979)
The frustratingly ego-centric central love story with it’s scarily prescient age-gap romance isn’t nearly as important as the opening, explosive, near-orgasmic visual tribute to Manhattan. The cast thereafter, Allen included, turn in great, gritty performances that put this black and white opus near the top of his CV.

Summer of Sam (Spike Lee, 1999)
Punk rock, disco, record temperatures, electricity blackouts and a serial killer against a gritty Italian neighbourhood in the Bronx. Amongst Lee's best films in my opinion with some of the most exciting use of film music I've ever seen. The 'Baba O'Riley' sequence gives Scorses's 'Layla' montage from Goodfellas a run for its money.


Anonymous said...

Greg, Thank you so much for this! I am off to NYC for the first time, having dreamed of it since I was a little girl, in 3 weeks.
I cannot TELL you how excited I am! Most of my days are spent planning the trip (often the best part!) And I'm staying in....Yes, Hotel 17 - so I'll be able to tell you all the gory details! - Only joking - the reviews online are actually really good!
Your New York movie recommendations are brilliant...I will be sure to watch them all before I go!

Gregling said...

Wow, you'll have a TIME. Do the white glove test at the hotel please! Take care, thanks for reading x

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