As a student in New York City, it can be challenging to remain in touch with the magic that ushered us to NYU. The once vibrant, bustling island can easily turn into a stress-filled, internship-laden nightmare. But no matter how betrayed we may feel by the city itself, there is one thing that always seems to restore that magnetic energy — movies. Here are a few movies set in the city that you can catch on Netflix right now, or see in theaters soon.
“Birdman,” the latest film from acclaimed director Alejandro González Iñárritu, is capping off a successful festival run this October. Supposedly deviating from Iñárritu’s stylistic tendency toward dark melodrama — the like of “Babel” and “Biutiful” — “Birdman” could stand as a career-making film for both Iñárritu and its star Michael Keaton. And, of utmost importance, the film is set in one of the most intrinsically Manhattan locales there is: the theater district.
On the other side of the bridge, there’s “The Drop” — a crime drama that delves into the world of Brooklyn’s working class. Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini star as cousins, with Gandolfini’s performance being the recently deceased “Sopranos” actor’s final film appearance. Catch “The Drop” in theaters starting Sept. 12.
Also set for a September release is Max Nichols’ directorial debut, “Two Night Stand.” Megan (Analeigh Tipton) and Alec (Miles Teller) share an extended one-night stand after an erratic New York snowstorm.
If instant gratification sounds more appealing, the Netflix portal won’t disappoint. In the spirit of collegiate coming-of-age, “Frances Ha” is always a welcomed stream. While the rom antic black-and-white exterior shots alone are worth a watch, “Ha” has other merits as well. It is difficult to feel talentless and emotionally stunted after comparing oneself to Greta Gerwig’s Frances, a 27-year-old failed yet passionate modern dancer. For more aimless 20-somethings and neuroses in New York, throw it back to Lena Dunham’s first commercial venture, “Tiny Furniture.”
For a more haunting take on Manhattan, there is always the Academy Award-winning romance “Ghost.” Nothing screams retro like a cast consisting of Whoopi Goldberg, Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze — but nothing screams perfection quite like that cast, either. Pay close attention to Sam and Molly’s (Swayze and Moore) apartment — it is unreal. Perhaps 1990 was the time to invest in Manhattan real estate.
On a more somber note, there is the illuminating documentary “Man on Wire.” The piece profiles French tightrope walker Philippe Petit and his incredible journey between the Twin Towers. While in retrospect the content is tinged with melancholy, Petit’s journey is anything but depressing. Plus, there is an odd comfort in seeing the towers stand strong on screen — a bygone era preserved through film footage.
When it comes down to it, New York City is more than just a classic setting. New York City is a character in every film it enters, and it is a character in your life, too. Welcome it.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 2 print edition. Email Isabel Jones at [email protected]