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Lost in New York: Peter Goes To The Movies
Peter Tatara - November 22, 2006

My name is Peter Tatara. I live in New York City. Perhaps you've heard of the place. First made famous in the 1998 film Pi, New York is today visited by hundreds of millions of people, but while they all visit 42nd Street, very few tourists explore so much as one block away. Enter this very travelogue, a field guide to the urban odyssey that is 43rd Street and beyond. Won't you join me as I get Lost in New York? Okay, that last sentence sucked.

Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain premieres this Friday. Either you're going to love it or hate it. Personally, I loved it, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head all week. How so? I saw it last week. I love New York. When one thinks of movies, one thinks of Hollywood, and one should -- Hollywood's the center of a global celluloid empire. I spent a year there. Carved out of the California desert, it's a playground for the opulent and the destitute. I lived a block away from the WB lot. I was almost run over by Woody Harrelson. I did the whole struggling writer thing.

Sure, I saw movies. Sure, I saw celebrities. But, the thing is, I never fit in. Throughout my months in Hollywood, no matter where I was, I couldn't shake the feeling I was on a movie set. It just all felt pretend. (With the sole exception being my frequent trips to El Coyote Grill at 4109 1/2 West Olive Ave. in Burbank. El Coyote Grill was a small Mexican dive just outside Warner Bros. owned by a humble immigrant family. They were good people. They had good food. I have no clue if El Coyote Grill is still in business, but I hope it is.)

My entire time in Hollywood can really be crystallized inside one memory.

One morning, when walking to work and crossing the WB lot, a tourist took my picture. I looked at her. I was just some guy on my way to work. But she, seeing me walking in front of Warner Bros., snapped my picture. Why? She thought I was somebody. She thought I was part of the global celluloid empire. I was just a guy who wrote video game reviews for the BBC. Everyone I knew in Hollywood was in movies, wanted to be in movies, or cleaned up the messes of those in and wanting to be in movies. All eyes, all hearts, and all thoughts were connected to movies.

But movies are make-believe.

For me, Hollywood was pretend -- a massive, waking dream. I left and moved to Manhattan. I admit leaving Hollywood for New York City for something real may sound questionable. Just as Hollywood has a mystique, Gotham has an enchantment, glamour, and romance all its own. But for me, while Hollywood's a playground for the opulent and the destitute, New York City is a playground for the opulent and the destitute and everyone and everything in-between. New York is home to every imaginable life, thought, language, and love. There are dreams in New York, but rather than a single, communal dream, there are a million here. All of them different. All of them unique. And it's the meeting of them all that is New York City.

By now, you're likely thoroughly confused by the point of all this. The point, in this writer's opinion, is that New York is full, rich, and matchless. And it's got movies, too. I've been to previews, sneak peaks, and premieres of Negadon: The Monster from Mars, Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, Paprika, and Howl's Moving Castle -- the last of which was attended by director Hayao Miyazaki. Granted, the above list is a tad geeky, but it's what I like, and if you like big budget blockbusters, low budget independents, or even Bollywood extravaganzas, New York has it all for you. There's seldom a movie that doesn't receive a New York premiere, and there's no movie -- regardless of how limited a release -- that doesn't show somewhere in the City.

Any and every movie possible is playing in New York City. From the massive movie palaces of Times Square, to art house jewels including the Angelika and the ImaginAsian, to the $4 theatre two blocks from my apartment, you'll be able to satisfy your cinematic appetite here no matter your taste. And the beautiful thing for me is that after spending two hours dreaming a dream in a theatre in New York, an explosion of a million more all come over me the moment I touch the street.

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