21 February 2010

The Last New Yorker

Directed by: Harvey Wang
Written by: Adam Forgash
Full credits at IMDb

The Last New Yorker, a slight, warm, charming and geriatric romance, is a paean to and eulogy for the remnants of Old New York, still barely just visible in this post-gentrified, post-Rudy-Bloomie city: the pubs serving corned beef, the newsstands, the tailors and jewelers. In short, the mom-and-pop businesses, all of which seem to be getting bought out in the film—and many of which, in real life, have shuttered since shooting wrapped. One character walks to his favorite steakhouse, only to discover it's become an empty lot. It's a city of eroding signage, graffitoed walls, cranes, construction sites and scaffolding. Director Wang, welcomely, boasts a longtime native's sense of the city, embodied in the title character, Lenny (Dominic Chainese), an elderly, caviling Jewish man cut from a cloth they don't sell in the garment district anymore. "Do you think I could survive anywhere but here?" he asks. "I'll never leave New York." (Which he means almost literally; he's visited Jersey.) Still, he admits to an old friend, "it's getting crueler."

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