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The Last New Yorker Would Have Made a Better Documentary | Village Voice


The Last New Yorker Would Have Made a Better Documentary


A beloved pastime of most native New Yorkers is to wax romantic (or, let’s be honest: bitch) about how everything that gave the city character has been eradicated, and that tic doesn’t get more charmless than in photographer-turned-filmmaker Harvey Wang’s thinly dramatized valentine to the good ol’ days. Like a low-rent Death of a Salesman starring Uncle Junior from The Sopranos, the film literally follows long-divorced septuagenarian Lenny Sugarman (Dominic Chianese) as he kvetches up and down Manhattan streets about the nouveau yuppie cafes and How Things Used to Be with his buddy, Ruben (Dick Latessa), all the while too stubborn to admit unwise investments have left him dead broke. Inspired by Wang’s photo book about older Gothamites whose occupations were threatened by modernity, screenwriter Adam Forgash (Everything Put Together) has fittingly written a scenario as hoary as his characters, from Lenny’s last desperate scheme to a perfunctory, older-lady love interest. Considering how meticulously Wang location-scouted the project—documenting all the barely surviving (or since closed down) luncheonettes, Irish pubs, hosieries, and shoe repair joints of yesteryear—it’s a shame he couldn’t stick to his shutterbug roots and shoot a documentary instead.

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