An Empire State of Mind: 8 Films That Show the Big Apple Love

Today, I’m showing the East Coast some love and giving you eight films that highlight the Big Apple.

1. West Side Story (1961)

A classic take on Romeo and Juliet, this film captures the energy and vibrancy of the city with its multiple dance numbers and songs. It also gives viewers an insight into the immigrant experience.

2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

This film shows love for the city right away as it opens with a beautiful shot of the World Trade Center buildings that are no longer with us; their presence remains in our hearts. Shots of the subway system and New York’s notorious sewers are in abundance, in addition to the scenes of dark alleyways and street corners since most of the film’s story takes place at night.

3. The Godfather (1972)

One of the many mafia themed films in cinema history, this one is particularly iconic. Throughout the film, there are few exterior shots, as the majority of the scenes are filmed in personal spaces. The intimate moments between the characters introduce New York on a personal level.

4. Men in Black (1997)

New York is a city known for its strange tales and myths, and the fact that this film’s premise features aliens living among the human population unbeknownst to the earthlings makes sense. Watching Agent K and Agent J stop at a magazine stand to scan through the tabloids, because they were a verifiable source of information in finding the alien bug, captures that always mysterious aspect of the city. In addition, there’s a shot of the World Trade Center, and the observation towers of the New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows make an appearance, too.

5. 16 Blocks (2006)

Bruce Willis plays a burnt out N.Y.P.D. detective who is tasked with escorting a witness (Mos Def) 16 blocks to the courthouse. What begins as a simple errand turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse as they’re chased by dirty cops determined to make the witness disappear. This film shows the daily coming and goings of New Yorkers, block by block. We see the diversity of the city dwellers, and the heroic – or villainous – actions made by members of the N.Y.P.D. There’s a message running throughout the film about how people can change, and in a way, that also applies to the city itself.

6. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Only in New York can the story of the rise and fall of a Wall Street stockbroker be told, and boy, is it a doozy of a story! The film showcases that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere  theme of the city while also showing the dark underbelly of New York’s rich, where corruption, lies, and deceit can be found.

7. I Am Legend (2007)

This sci-fi horror film depicts New York City in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic state. Watching Will Smith make his daily rounds through a deserted Manhattan, or waiting during midday at the South Street Seaport really let’s you see the emptiness of the once much too busy city, and the loneliness of Smith’s character is profound.

8. Godzilla (1998)

Yes, I know this isn’t a fan favorite but I love this film! It also showcases New York in its own colorful way. We get shots of some of the city’s landmarks being destroyed or scarred by the Godzilla wannabe. There’s also humor, romance and action and that’s part of the New York way of life.

What are your favorite films that highlight the city that never sleeps?  Leave your comments below or on my Facebook page.

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