21 x New York
Regissør: Piotr Stasik

The metropolis 21 x New York portrays the iconic metropolis through the 21 of its inhabitants, focusing on what one does or longs to do in a non-sleeping city.


New York City: "The Big Apple," "The City That Never Sleeps," and all that jazz. Well then, we all want to be a part of it, New York, New York. It may seem that we all feel a kind of kinship to this city, which many – not least in urban hipster circles – hold as their absolute favorite place on earth. New York is like something other than the vulgar United States, it is far from simple Texas, gaudy Las Vegas and superficial California. Although the narcissistic online role that shockingly became president is indeed from Queens, New York is nonetheless European America – and at the same time something entirely for itself. New York is one state of mind. New York is Woody Allen, Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, The Factory and Velvet Underground. New York is Seinfeld, Girls, Sex & The City (that is, the TV series, before the movies soared to its reputation), intellectual newspapers, smart talk shows, long drinks, cool neighborhoods and lots of streetcars. What shouldn't be given to be able to rap or sing about a rough upbringing in The Bronx or New Jersey, respectively? Or at least have a commuter apartment in Williamsburg?

The style is essayistic, fragmentary and partly dreamlike, with much poetry in the breathtaking and very vibrant cityscapes.

A home for you. Probably it shines through that I'm not as NYC-saved as many others. To paraphrase a wise, recently deceased Canadian, albeit with a certain danger of contradiction: I take Berlin, London and Athens before I go to Manhattan. But I will just as fully admit that when I at the age of 30 finally got to New York City, I also got a hint – but only a hint, that is! – of the undeniably rational feeling of coming close to home. For this city is undeniably omnipresent in the popular part of the culture, which I, as a film writer, find myself with a lot of. And when the terror hit 11. September 2001, it felt a long way off as an attack on our entire culture, also for us here in Norway.

Lonely in the crowd. The reason I post about my relationship with New York here and now is that I'm really going to write about a movie about this city. 21 x New York by the Polish documentary filmmaker Piotr Stasik is a portrait of NYC and some of its inhabitants, more specifically 21 reasonably different people, with the subway as a kind of link between them. The style is essayistic, fragmentary and partly dreamlike, with much poetry in the breathtaking and very vibrant cityscapes – which are mainly filmed at night. We don't necessarily get as close to the people we see – and not least hear as the film's narrative voices – but that doesn't seem to be the point either. On the contrary, the film apparently wants to draw a picture of the more volatile characteristics of the metropolis, where the characters will almost flow into each other. And not least, it's about how, as you know, you can be lonely in the middle of the million-counting crowd. (It is also tempting to point out that if hell is really the other, then there is plenty of hell to be found in a metropolis – but this is strictly to misinterpret Sartre.) So it is appropriate enough that we sometimes get knowing intimate and personal things about these people, without us getting to know them very well.

Towing tunnels. This approach, moreover, resonates with another of the film's themes, which in a sense is sex and the city – the sexual encounters and the longing for them in the modern metropolis. Here, the film sweeps in on Tinder and other of the digital checking tools of the time, which in their way also reflects the loneliness of the big city as well as volatility. Likewise one can see the familiar Subway as a more or less striking metaphor, in the form of a place where one is close to an overwhelming amount of people, who just as ideally remain distant. And of course you can also think about people's possible tugs on tunnels, as it was called in Aune Sands Dis. In the name of decency, I do not think I will pursue this track further, but would like to mention that in one of the film's more enjoyable scenes, it is claimed from a grown man to a teenage boy that men follow their penises – something the younger and partly precocious guy does. agrees – like the filmmaker, one can get the feeling, without Stasik in any way ridiculing the physical or emotional needs of his characters.

The film wraps around Tinder and other digital checkers of the time, which in their way also reflects the loneliness of the big city as well as volatility.

Cinematic urban landscape. In a sense, movies and big cities have always belonged together. From the legendary silent films Berlin, a metropolitan symphony (Walter Ruttman, 1927) and The man with the film camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929) And probably even before, movies have paid homage or in other ways about cities, whose neon-lit asphalt landscape has always been good at film. Again you can mention Woody Allen and his Manhattan og Sex and single life from the same city (part), or for that matter Joachim Triers Oslo, 31. August, which is more of a muted and melancholy ballad than a cacophonic metropolitan symphony. 21 x New York genealogy in form and mood on Chris Marker's experimental and essayistic Sans Soleil, while at the same time standing on a myriad of mighty shoulders when it is precisely New York it loves to portray – this iconic metropolis more than any other inextricably linked to film history.

However, it does not make Piotr Stasik's film essay feel superfluous, on the contrary. Admittedly, one cannot say that he does a brand new start of it, as the song says, but first and foremost, with its focus on sex and lonely big city life, is 21 x New York far more than just a seductive reunion with the city we apparently never get enough of. At least not on film.

Watch the movie here.

also read "When something is very difficult, magical things can happen."

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