Friday, 17 August 2007

Coming to a silver screen near you

There’s much movie making afoot in New York City just now, not that there isn’t always some sort of filming going on, episodes of Law and Order and what not, but the city seems to be especially popular with filmmakers at the moment. According to Gawker.com Simon Pegg (love him) and Kirsten Dunst (hmmm, not so keen) are filming the final scenes of "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People" today, the movie based on Toby Young’s book; Cameron Diaz is apparently lurking in Chelsea filming “What happens in Vegas” and a bearded Adam Sandler was recently spotted shooting scenes for some movie on the Upper East Side. You almost can’t walk 10blocks without coming across a convoy of Haddad’s location trailers and a gaggle of crew and extras huddled around the catering truck and scoffing bacon sarnies.

While the experience of actually seeing New York on the big screen always gives me the chills - pinch me! I can’t believe I live here - it can also be something of a distraction. For me watching a movie set in New York is a bit like watching a film where someone you know, say your aunt, is playing one of the peripheral characters. They’re playing a character that isn’t necessarily critical to the plot, but each time you see the person on screen it distracts you from the action. You can’t help but ignore what the main character is doing, because you’re thinking “hey, that’s my aunt over there in the background.” When I see New York on screen I can’t help but start scrutinizing the location to try and work out which neighbourhood the scene was filmed in. As a result I usually end up missing critical pieces of the plot.

The other thing I find distracting about movies filmed in New York is when the streets I know so well are rearranged for movie making purposes. For some reason I find this incredibly irritating, although why it should matter to me I don’t know since on the whole I'm really very good about suspending my disbelief when watching a film. Realism generally matters not a jot. Take the recent Bourne Ultimatum movie for example - no spoilers here – where I found it perfectly acceptable that Matt Damon (phwoargh) could walk unscathed from a car which had been squished flat by an articulated lorry after a particularly violent car chase. In fact I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid if a T-Rex had suddenly appeared on screen and chased him up First Avenue. Perfectly acceptable. However when Matt walked along 3rd Avenue, passing 48th street and then turned a corner and ended up at Port Authority bus station, well I was ready to throw my shoes at the screen.

"Pht! That’s sooooo unrealistic" I scoffed –"there’s no wayyyyyy you can get to Port Authority from there. You've got to go south 5 or 6 blocks to 42nd Street and THEN go west for 7 avenue blocks before you’ll get to Port Authority Bus Station. It would take at least 20minutes, but they expect me to believe that he can walk one block north on 3rd avenue and arrive there? It’s completely ridiculous. These film people must think we’re idiots."

Ahem!!

....And don’t get me started on that scene in Spiderman 2 – a movie clearly set in New York, Peter Parker lives in Queens for God’s sake - where Spidey stops the runaway train which runs along elevated tracks which the uninitiated no doubt assumed was downtown Manhattan. Errr no!!! In fact there was a collective “WHAT THE …” during that specific scene from me and my fellow New York movie patrons, since although there is indeedio an elevated subway in New York, there is NOT an elevated train that runs between the downtown skyscrapers. THAT particular train my friends would be in Chicago. I may be taking my locations a little too seriously, but folks; I kid you not, that geographical snafu almost ruined the entire movie for me.

Maybe I should see if I can get a job as a New York location scout and sort these movie people out once and for all. Hmmm, now there’s an idea :-)


Photo Credit: Jenny Vee @ Flickr

12 comments:

Amel's Realm said...

INTERESTING observation! I know nothing about these stuff, so when I watch any movies, I just go along with the story. It must be crazy to spot "mistakes" here and there he he he...

Amel's Realm said...

I mean not "crazy" as "mad"...but I can understand the "itch" to protest at the inconsistencies...

alcoment said...

It goes to show that it takes a native to notice this sort of thing, I wouldn't spot anything like that, it must be quite frusrating at times.

I visited New York last year. To my embarressment I spent a lot of the time making an idiot of myself, declaring every 5 minutes "It looks just like it does in the films"!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hey Amel - it does make me 'crazy' to spot these things :-)

Sometimes I can go along with it too, but they sometimes take a lot of liberties with the locations.

Hey Alcoment - doesn't it look exactly like it does in movies? Especially with the steam rising from the streets. That used to strike me a lot too - in fact when I fly back and I take a cab home through the streets I still sometimes feel it's like a movie. That's the odd thing about New York, it's so iconic from films that even a first time visitor can feel like they've been here before.

Have a lovely weekend girls. F

Whimsy Gal said...

I'm right there with you - I HATE it when I spot out inconsistencies in a film/tv show like that!! It bugs me and distracts me - hubby thinks I'm quite persnickety!!

Princess of the Universe said...

They've been filming a lot in Winnipeg the past few years (cheaper than most places, and a good city for "period" movies- we got a bit of Brad Pitt's upcoming Jesse James movie).

Since NOTHING is ever supposed to be set in Winnipeg it doesn't bug me too much. But it does drive me mental how they take over the streets, and we keep getting re-directed. Annoying.

alcoment said...

Ha ha, it was the steam rising in the streets that got me the most. I stood there for ages looking at it, I was such a tourist!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Ha, I hear you Princess. A few years ago they filmed a scene from the Hugh Grant/Sandra Bullock movie, Two Weeks' Notice, on my street. I had annoying film crew types diverting me away from getting to my apartment and extras cluttering the street when I was trying to get to work - they were there at 7am for God's sake. I would growl at them regularly. Thankfully they weren't there long.

Thanks for stopping by :-)

Agnes Mildew said...

I wish I'd been there to see Two Week's Notice being filmed (I watched it for the first time two days ago). I think I would have made Hugh Grant's life a misery by staring at him wistfully and elbowing Jemima out of the way...ah, if only!

The only filming ever done where I live is that of the crime scene...

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hey Agnes, funny comment re: the crime scene, I laughed out loud and almost snorted coffee up my nose (painful).

I never saw Hugh or Sandy - as I call her when we got out for a martini - just a load of extras. You know the bit towards the end where he goes to the Legal Aid place where she works and she rebuffs him, but then runs after him and they snog by the dustbins??? That's my street. That Legal Aid office is actually an orthopaedic shoe store. When I saw it I was so excited to see if my building was going to be on telly - it isn't - that I completely ignored the big kissing scene. I was too busy thinking "hey, those are my neighbours dustbins" :-) Oh the glamour!!

Girl in the 206 said...

I hear ya sister! When they filmed Sleepless in Seattle, they had a scene where Tom Hanks and his son were boating all over the city and then ended up on a beach...well, It is quite rare that you see someone with a little motorboat end up in Alki beach...it is the Ocean, ya know (or more perferably, Puget Sound). And it would take several hours, you would have to go through the Locks, which I don't think they let those small, almost row boats, do. Also, fireworks on Lake Union (where the houseboat is) on New Years? Never...that is on the 4th of July only. The fireworks on New Years are on the Space Needle. There is so much false stuff in that movie it drives me batty!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Oh Sleepless in Seattle would absolutely drive me bananas if I knew all that. Still, I must admit that I was a complete tourist when I was in Seattle in 2003 - i think - and I went to that restaurant where Tom has that dinner date - something Dahlia is it? I liked Seattle, although it was much much hillier than I was expecting.