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Michael Atkinson

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Reel Brooklyn is a biweekly column chronicling the definitive history of Brooklyn on-screen, one film—and neighborhood—at a time. Movies as archaeology: when the medium was invented, that's what a lot of people saw, a way finally to freeze history in its tracks. Documents of prewar Brooklyn neighborhoods are not common, as most film production migrated to the predictable sunshine of southern California by the mid-20s. But check out Buzzin' Around (1933), an early-talkie short starring...
Reel Brooklyn is a biweekly column chronicling the definitive history of Brooklyn on-screen, one film—and neighborhood—at a time. One of the authentic pathmarks of the American New Wave, William Friedkin's The French Connection (1971) was more New York than any movie anyone had ever seen—more New York than Shadows (1959), more than Rosemary's Baby (1968), more than Midnight Cowboy (1969). There was something about the way the movie smelled—an unmistakable compound of street coffee, taxi...
Reel Brooklyn is a biweekly column chronicling the definitive history of Brooklyn on-screen, one film—and neighborhood—at a time. After years of faking it, Hollywood came east in the 60s and 70s, and discovered New York, landing into neighborhoods like Park Slope—in Hal Ashby's funky, saber-toothed debut comedy The Landlord (1970)—as though exploring the uncharted interior of Borneo. Raw-boned, ethnic, shot-right-there realism was suddenly movies' lingua franca; the bikers of Easy Rider (1969) could tell anyone...
Reel Brooklyn is a biweekly column chronicling the definitive history of Brooklyn on-screen, one film—and neighborhood—at a time. Alan J. Pakula's woebegone demi-classic Sophie's Choice (1982) remains famous for a few things: Meryl Streep's diva-explosion tour de force as a Polish Auschwitz survivor with a cataclysmic secret, and of course that secret itself, such a corrosive piece of narrative poison that the which-child-dies choice of the title instantly became a part of the American language...

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