And another list...
We were inspired to put this one together by a group of LA-based film critics who, last year, made a list of 25 movies filmed in their hometown over the previous 25 years that managed "to communicate some inherent truth about the L.A. experience,” while allowing “only one film per director…on the list."
But that’s where we diverge from the exercise: there are no deep meanings attached to our criteria, nor did we purposely exclude any director from being on the list more than once. Some of our favorites that didn’t make the cut, in our opinion, don’t show enough NYC or were actually filmed elsewhere despite the story being NYC-based. Also, since we’re not film geeks and, for the most part, have very little knowledge and/or interest in older films, the movies listed here do not go back further than 1972. (Yeah, go ahead, sue us.)
In alphabetical order:
A Bronx Tale (1993)
Chazz Palminteri wrote and starred in this loosely based, autobiographical, coming-of-age tale adapted from his one-man show, and directed by Robert De Niro.
Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986)
The film version of Neil Simon’s acclaimed play has been often skewered for various reasons—to us, the acting resembles too closely the exaggerated mannerisms of actors from 1937, the year in which it is set, as opposed to people from the time—but it’s a nice story, nonetheless, about a Jewish family from Brooklyn on the eve of WWII.
Carlito’s Way (1993)
Sort of like a brown Goodfellas. Some of the plot twists seem a bit forced in order to fit the ending but it's still great, nonetheless. Underrated, actually. (Bonus points for having a scene filmed at our F train stop.)
City Hall (1996)
An intriguing tale of New York politics and corruption with Al Pacino, John Cusack, and Bridget Fonda. In other words, a legend, a favorite, and a big crush, respectively.
Coming to America (1988)
Ah, when Eddie Murphy—alongside Arsenio Hall—was still funny. The “Good morning, my neighbors!” line—and the exchange it elicits—still cracks us up. Every time. (Look out for the Samuel L. Jackson, Ralph Bellamy, and Don Ameche cameos.)
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Dialogue king David Mamet and his soundtrack-deprived masterpiece about cold-selling real estate agents is just awesome. (The Al Jarreau tune played during the closing credits is the only production-included music in the entire film.) An all-male, star-studded cast in which Alec Baldwin’s cameo alone is worth the price of admission. Damn!
Trivia: the Jack Lemmon character was the basis for a recurring Simpsons character.
The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather part 2 (1974)
Arguably, the two greatest American films ever. Period.
Never been keen on real life Mafiosi but a huge fan of the celluloid ones. This delivers in spades. (Also gets bonus points for having scenes filmed in our Brooklyn ‘hood. Not that it needs any bonus points.)
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
It’s common knowledge that nobody does NY like Woody Allen; his avid location scouting is legendary. Hell, people have come to live in Gotham inspired by scenes in his movies. Oh, yeah: we dig this one. Props to the Woodman for shooting scenes in two now-gone NYC music landmarks: CBGB, and the Lincoln Center-area Tower Records location.
Moscow on the Hudson (1984)
Director Paul Mazursky’s tale of a Russian circus musician (Robin Williams) who defects while shopping in Bloomingdale’s turns from breezy, light-hearted comedy to a dramatic telling of an immigrant’s experiences in NYC. Solid.
New Jack City (1991)
Long before it was de rigueur to cast rappers in movies, Ice-T joined director and star Mario Van Peebles, Chris Rock, and Judd Nelson—that was some inspired casting!—in an undercover drug unit trying to bring down Harlem crack kingpin Wesley Snipes. Cheesy, but fun.
Nueba Yol (1996)
A flawed but wildly popular Dominican indie that has many genuine moments, both comedic and tender. "Yo te e'ploto, Fellito!"
The scene where Robert De Niro first hears about the sexual abuse at the reform school has got to be among his best ever. Set in Hell's Kitchen. Jason Patric, Brad Pitt, Kevin Bacon, Minnie Driver and Billy Crudup also star.
El Super (1979)
A cold, grimy, and rough late-'70s NYC as seen thru the eyes of Latino immigrants, featuring actress Elizabeth Peña's debut on the big screen. Directed by Leon Ichaso (Selena, El Cantante).
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
We might have to double check, but we’re pretty sure this Billy Crystal-Meg Ryan rom-com is the only chick flick we are fans of.