' ' Cinema Romantico: If There Was Only One City In Movies...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

If There Was Only One City In Movies...

In a recently wondrous post at The Velvet Café, Jessica, in writing about the resplendent “Frances Ha”, said this: “If I only was allowed to watch movies from one city for the rest of my life, (New York) would be the city of my choice.” Well this, as it absolutely had to, got me to thinking. If I was only allowed to watch movies from one city for the rest of my life, what would be my choice?

Heavens to murgratroyd, what a query! Where do I begin?! What’s my criteria?! How do I decide?!

How do I pass up Paris in the spring and in the fall and in the winter and in the summer and in the rain and in the plumes of cigarette smoke? How do I pass up London and those gorgeous gray clouds and the myth I have cultivated in the nonsensical place that is my mind that every single woman in England’s capital city looks and behaves exactly like Sienna Miller? How do I pass up Rome after having just seen “The Great Beauty”?

How do I pass up the streets of San Francisco, even if Sean Connery demolished them in his stupid Humvee, and that sky – oh, dear me, that sky, that blue sky that seems to stretch out from the coast into Forever – and Dr. Gillian Taylor threatening Kirk & Spock with a tire iron? How do I pass up Chicago, the city where I live, the city of daytime rebellion, nighttime adventure, badass beer, and spring and summer afternoons that can be so exquisite only the words and dulcet tones of Marie De Salle could suitably capture their Midwestern majesty?

But seriously, how do I pass up L.A.? It’s Mann-land. It’s Sofia-ville. It’s “Chinatown.” It’s Phillip Marlowe & Vivian Sternwood Rutledge exchanging bon mots. It's “open season on the L.A. Freeway!!!” It’s those heaven-sent sunsets that make it seem as if the whole sky is a bouquet of pink roses. It’s the vast expanse of city lights twinkling like “iridescent algae.” It’s the city of light and dark, dreams and nightmares, and loneliness – crippling, bewitching loneliness. It’s Hollywood, motherfucker.

But really, honestly, how do I pass up New York? The city that exists in black & white even when you’re literally looking at it in color. The city that glows even when you’re literally looking at it in monochrome. Central Park and The Canyons and the clip-clop/clip-clop – no, not the handsome cabs, but the boots of the sassy New York girls with the cigarettes who so seriously do not have time for your shit striding down the sidewalks to get somewhere they don’t wanna be. Punks and party girls, psychos and lunatics. New Beginnings and Dead Ends. Romantically sweltering summers and whimsically falling snow. Pizzerias and Italian restaurants at midnight and The Plaza Hotel (and Flanagan's Cocktails & Dreams). A “Quiet City” where you hear “police sirens all night long”. Terry asking Edie if she wants to have a beer. How can any other city compete?

They can't, of course. Not Paris, which was where New York resident Frances Halladay took a carefree excursion to revel in spur-of-the-moment joy only to instead wind up even more hopelessly depressed. Not London, which may have been where Sienna Miller was raised, except then we remember she was born in New York. Not Rome, since it all may just be a trick. Not San Francisco, which may be where Sara Thomas moves, only to wind up back in New York where she lives happily ever after. Not even, dare I say it, Chicago, because hey, where does Ferris Bueller go to seek refuge from his troubled life? New York. Not even L.A. with its fancy-pants Biltmore Hotel.

You probably know The Biltmore Hotel as The Sedgewick Hotel, the establishment to which parapsychologists Venkman, Stantz & Spengler race to thwart a few ghosts. It's merely that in “Ghostbusters”, L.A.'s Biltmore is recast as New York's Sedgewick. And that’s the giveaway. That’s what sets New York apart from L.A.

The Movies’ mythical headquarters may be Hollywood, but how many times has Hollywood dressed itself up as New York?


Anonymous said...

What a lovely post! I'm glad I inspired it! Actually I thought to myself as I wrote it: "this could actually be the theme of a seperate post. I wonder if someone else will pick it?" And you did!

Like you I thought briefly about London and Paris and other places, but then I kept coming back to NYC over and over again. No, there's no other city that can compete from this aspect. There really isn't.

Derek Armstrong said...

I award you points for the hyperlinking alone. But also for everything else.

Nick Prigge said...

Jessica: There really isn't it. I tried to argue myself into Chicago, but no. Couldn't do it.

Vance: Ha! Thank you. That hyperlinking took more time than I'm willing to admit but I was just like, What if someone doesn't get this reference?