New York Film Locations

Unusual New York Films that have Filled Movie Theatres

22 September 2012

OTSONY welcomes guest writer Eve Robinson. The British journalist, who has a strong interest in New York films, Middle Eastern art and literature.

(Writer: Eve Robinson)

Nobody could argue that New York is one of the most cinematic cities in the world. Over the decades, this cosmopolitan and pulsating city has showcased literally hundreds of films, many of which became box office sensations and all-time classics. When we think of movies filmed in New York, Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Sam Raimi’s Spiderman immediately spring to mind - iconic New York films that possess a longevity and pervasive appeal less successful movies fail to acquire. However, what about the less conspicuous, more underground movies filmed in the state of New York, films that despite their subversive nature have managed to engage the public and fill cinemas throughout the United States and beyond?

Take a look at three unusual New York films that have filled movie theatres.

This is My Home

(Film: This is My Home)

Having been cited as a “charming film” about a man’s unique New York City home, much of This is My Home’s charm derives from its intriguing and unusual narrative. Directed by filmmakers Mark Cercosimo and Kelsey Holtaway, this beautiful short story tells the story of Anthony Pisano, a charismatic man from New York who owns a fascinating collection of antiques and vintage curiosities in a place which people often mistake as an antique shop. Pisano’s home is an East village storefront and whilst nothing is for sale there, Pisano cannot help giving items away for free. Much of the emphasis of this New York film is focused on Pisano speaking about the importance of talking to people and reminiscing about how his New York apartment rescued the relationship of a bickering couple. In the same vein as the 2011 road-movie This Must Be The Place, This is My Home encapsulates Pisano’s singular character through the contents of both his home and his heart. Whereas underground, arty and more usual documentary-type films can often be not as successful at the box office as the action-packed, Hollywood blockbusters, This is My Home pulled in a steady cinema hall following.

Shaft, Gordon Parks

(Film: Shaft)

As famous as it is for its legendary New Year’s Eve celebrations, Times Square is as famous for being the setting for many a celebrated movie. Being the “Crossroads of the World”, the major commercial intersection in Midtown Manhattan, at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd Street, it seems only natural that New York’s iconic Times Square has attracted filmmakers for decades as a location to set their movies. Filmed in 1971, Shaft, Gordon Parks was one of the original films to be filmed in Times Square, a move that ultimately helps to fill theater seats. Not only did Shaft, Gordon Parks help rivet Times Square as being a favourite setting for movies, but it also broke boundaries in being the first properly successful movie, from the blaxploitation genre. This poignant movie genre is primarily focussed on ethnic slurs against whites and is typically set in poor neighbourhoods. Despite Shaft, Gordon Parks not being a household name in New York’s legendary cinematic history, this usual New York film took the Harlem-dude image of platform boots, feather hats and silver-top canes to a massive audience.

Requiem for a Dream

(Film: Requiem for a Dream)

Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, released in 2000, may not have reached the status of a New York classic but it irrefutably provided an unusual slant on New York City. This intriguing adaptation of Hubert Selby Junior’s novel is centred on the Jewish mother of a junkie son who becomes an addict herself through the imprudent use of slimming tablets. Offering a gritty and realistic take of life for Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and Russia, who lived in neighbourhoods of Brighton Beach and Coney Island, Requiem for a Dream is a world-apart from the ultra-glamorous scenes dazzled with skyscrapers and neon lights the likes of Spiderman and Taxi Driver became renowned for. The movie’s signature scene is a limpid dream sequence in which the son, Harry, fantasises about meeting his girlfriend, Marion and playing out on Coney Island’s iconic Steeplechase Pier. As unglamorous, grainy and pragmatic as this unusual New York movie may be, Requiem for a Dream managed to fill the seats of cinema halls and brought in a domestic total gross of $3,635,482 – Yet another example that more unusual, underground and arty films set in New York can be successful at the box office.

Submitted by Eve Robinson


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