by Patrick Bromley
For the next in my month-long series of hypothetical 24-hour movie marathons, I'm focusing on New York movies. I have never been to New York, but I have very specific ideas about what a New York movie should feel like. I suspect I get these ideas from other New York movies.
This marathon theme was suggested by my beautiful wife Erika, who probably didn't know I was serious when I asked her to throw out an idea and who has attended nearly every marathon I've ever programmed. If I was really going to do this one, I wouldn't ask her to stay for all of it. She would never forgive me for Fulci.
Walter Hill) Holy shit this is a good one so far. We've spent three hours watching old black and white classics; now it's time to watch a CLASSIC. Walter Hill's epic, in which a pseudo-futuristic street gang must survive the night in New York and make it back to their home turf, seems to only get better with age. I love is more every time I see it, and it's the first (not the last) film in the lineup to portray New York as a dangerous place lousy with violence...giant apes notwithstanding. If it's at all possible, watch the theatrical cut and not Hill's weird "director's cut" (complete with comic book panel transitions, because if only such a thing had been possible in 1979!), which is the only version available on Blu-ray.
Ghostbusters (1984, dir. Ivan Reitman) Besides being one of my favorite comedies and one of the only good special effects comedies ever made (as well as being one of the most quotable films of all time), Ghostbusters is a great New York movie. Every inch of every frame is informed by its setting, from the architecture to the politics to the overall spirit of the city. You know those annoying actors or directors who say things like "New York is like another character in the movie?" (This is something David Wain mocked mercilessly when he introduced They Came Together at Chicago's Music Box Theatre last spring.) Well, New York really is like another character in Ghostbusters. At this point in the marathon it's always important to go with a crowdpleaser; even if you're watching these all by yourself, it ensures that you're totally entertained and helps you feel connected to the outside world in a way that many of these other movies won't. Dogs and cats, living together.
Death Wish 3 (1985, dir. Michael Winner) After the dark night of the soul that is Taxi Driver, we need to come up for air. What better way to do it than with some '80s Cannon insanity? My love of this movie is well documented on this site, so programming it is a no-brainer. It's one of many movies (most of which were made by Cannon) that presents '80s New York as a terrifying war zone in which gangs want to mug, rape and kill you at every corner. The only solution is a geriatric Charles Bronson and his unique brand of indifferent revenge. Death Wish 3 will blow the doors off the place and reenergize you for the night ahead. #RIPTheGiggler
previous marathon and would prefer not to repeat picks. So instead I'll just go with the Italian knock-off, which I have never seen (nor its sequel, 1983's Escape from the Bronx). The above picture tells me everything I need to know to want to see it, but then so does "Italian rip-off of Escape from New York." Hell, they had me at Enzo Castellari.
Planet of the Apes (1968, dir. Franklin J. Schaffner) Let us re-enter the land of the living a different place from that which we left. While the connection to New York is tenuous (it's not really revealed until the famous final shot), plugging in Planet of the Apes helps to stretch the parameters so that not every movie feels the same. No need to praise the movie; it's a classic for a reason. While some of its sequels are a bit weirder and more ambitious, this one is right for this time slot and its ties to NYC are iconic in a way that Beneath the Planet of the Apes' aren't. I feel really good about this pick in this spot.
Quick Change (1990, dir. Howard Franklin/Bill Murray) Let's close things out with this love/hate letter to New York, starring and co-directed by Bill Murray. He plays a bank robber who, along with Geena Davis and Randy Quaid, try to get out of the city after a successful job. That proves difficult to do. There is so much that's great about this movie -- another brilliant and underrated comedy -- and its attitude towards the city makes for a perfect way to close things out. All Bill Murray wants to do is get away. So do we! It's been 24 hours for fuck's sake.