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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Five Best: Capital Region Movies

courtesy of

At a friend's suggestion (and my complete lack of an original idea this week), we're going to look at movies filmed in upstate New York this week. When I say "upstate New York," I mean my current neck of the woods - the Adirondacks, Saratoga, and the Capital region. I guess it fits, since I'll be seeing a high school friend and his wife today for lunch while they're visiting the Adirondacks. So, without further ado, here they are in chronological order.

Sue Lyon in "Lolita" courtesy of

Lolita (1962)

Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of the classic Vladimir Nabokov novel is a brilliant look at underage sexuality. Nabokov also wrote the screenplay for the film, starring Shelly Winters, Sue Lyon, and James Mason as college professor Humbert Humbert, the man who courts Lolita's mother just to get closer to her. In 1962, it made quite a few waves - the 1997 remake is a true disappointment. As the tagline said upon the film's release, "How did they ever make a movie of Lolita?" Well, partly because they managed to do some of the filming in Albany, New York.

Scene from "Ironweed" courtesy of

Ironweed (1987)

Nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress for Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep respectively, not only was the movie filmed in Albany, but it also took place there. The film is based on the novel by William Kennedy (as part of his Albany Cycle), who also wrote the screenplay. In the film, Nicholson plays Francis Phelan, returning to Albany for the first time in years after a horrific accident with his infant son. Now a washed-up babeball player and all around drunk, he stays in Albany to try to rid himself of the demons of his past. The film garnered great praise and managed to create a pretty good film out of the Pullitzer Prize winning novel.

Michelle Pfeiffer and Daniel Day-Lewis in "The Age of Innocence" courtesy of

The Age of Innocence (1993)

One of Martin Scorsese's "give me an Oscar please" films, The Age of Innocence is still a pretty solid period drama, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and the Oscar nominated (for this film) Winona Ryder. Set in 19th century New York, it's adapted from the 1920 novel by Edith Wharton, about a man battling with his decision to pursue passion and love or follow the tired social tomes of the day and age. It has a number of stand-out performances from the leads and won the Oscar for best costume design. It was partly filmed in Albany and Kinderhook, New York.

Chris Cooper in "Seabiscuit" courtesy of

Seabiscuit (2003)

Nominated for Best Picture, it was impossible not to include this movie (or any film about horses in some way, shape or form). Seabiscuit is the story of the depression-era racehorse who captured a nation and the men who brought the little horse to victory. Starring Jeff Bridges, hris Cooper, Tobey Maguire, and William H. Macy, this uplifting movie had some racing scene filmed at the racetrack here in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Catherine Keener and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in "Synechdoche, New York" courtesy of

Synecdoche, New York (2008)

It almost shares a name with the city it was partially filmed in, but, other than that, it shares almost no similarities with anything, let alone other films. Famed screenwriter and first-time director here Charlie Kaufman tells the story of Schenectady theater director Caden Cotard who takes his MacArthur grant money to create a to-scale model of the Mahattan theater district. There, he has his actors begin their work, portraying the mundane lives they all are familiar with, blurring the line between fiction and real life. A brilliant, imaginitive look at how we see the world and how we define our relationships, Synecdoche, New York stands alone as a modern benchmark in the way films are made and conceived.

So, Upstate New Yorkers, be proud of the movies that came out of this area. We've had some good ones!

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