Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sidewalks Of New York

Last night (for the fifth or sixth time), I watched Sidewalks of New York, the delightful ensemble piece put together by the writer/actor/director, Edward Burns. Released in 2001, and written and directed by Ed Burns, the film is another take on the themes and subject matter covered so well in Sex And The City. However, in Sidewalks Burns is able to seamlessly weave the lives of a number of New York couples into a contemporary examination of the morés and beliefs surrounding sex and relationships in modern society.

The tag line for the film reads: In a city of 8 million people, what are the odds the perfect two will meet? And if the film is anything to go by, the odds are reasonably good.

The principle actors include Rosario Dawson, Heather Graham, David Krumholtz, Brittany Murphy, Stanley Tucci, and Ed Burns himself. Every actor gives a great performance, and even those actors in the more minor roles (Dennis Farina, Nadia Dajani, and Michael Leydon Campbell), play their parts wonderfully.

The plot (thanks to John Reeves and the Internet Movie DataBase) can be summarized thus:

Six New Yorkers have an interrelated series of relationships. TV producer Tommy [Ed Burns], who's just broken up with his girlfriend, has a short relationship with commitment-phobe Maria [Rosario Dawson], who he meets in a video store, and also hooks up with married real-estate agent Annie [Heather Graham], who he meets while apartment hunting. Annie is open to a relationship because her husband, Griffin [Stanley Tucci], is cheating on her, which she slowly comes to realize through talking to her friend/co-worker who's gone through the same thing. Griffin, a 39-year-old dentist, is cheating with 19-year-old waitress Ashley [Brittany Murphy], who he picked up in a park; she realizes she can do better when Ben [David Krumholtz], a hotel doorman and aspiring musician, tries to pick her up, in a belated attempt to recover from his divorce a year ago from schoolteacher Maria (the same Maria from the video store).

I love the naturalistic performances that each of the actors brings to the film, especially that of the late Brittany Murphy. She brings so much vulnerability to her role as the 19 year old Ashley, and this performance (and subsequent film roles), only highlight how much the film world lost with her death on December 20, 2009.

The other key ‘actor’ in this film is New York City itself. Having been to New York on several occasions, I loved being able to relive some of my visits by playing ‘spot the location’, as the film progressed.

Sidewalks of New York was filmed mostly around the Lower East Side and the East Village, with key scenes set in Katz’s Delicatessen on East Houston Street; the Housing Works Bookstore Café on Crosby Street; the entrance to the Prince Street subway station; and the now long gone Stingy Lulu’s luncheonette. Another scene takes place in front of the Naumberg Bandshell in Central Park. However, I have not been able to locate the video store (assuming it is still open) in which two important scenes are set. And then of course, there are the numerous faux interviews that take place on the sidewalks of New York City.

The film also offers a poignant reminder of what New York City lost on September 11, 2001, as we glimpse the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the background of numerous scenes. Apparently, the original film poster, which showed the pre-9/11 New York skyline, was pulled after the terrorist attacks.

If have yet to see Sidewalks Of New York head down to your local video/DVD store, or download it from NetFlix or wherever, and take a look at it. I hope you love it as much as I do.

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