Visions of New York City

To tour the Big Apple without the fear of encountering muggers, blackouts or terrorist attacks, “Visions of New York City” is the next best thing to being there. The one-hour documentary, created for public television in 2004, is a high-flying, visual guide to the city that never sleeps. (So if do go, take. Your. Earplugs.)

It’s exceedingly slick and well-produced; the tourism department would be pleased. But part of NYC’s charm is in the grime, in the semi-shady places, in the crazed faces of some of its out-there residents, in the smell of the subway, in the noise pollution of the never-ending hustle and bustle. For a roundabout run of iconic structures, however, “Visions” is your ticket.

The camera never stops, and it approaches its subjects from wide, cool angles, giving you a view you otherwise wouldn’t get, short of being Superman. The nighttime shots are particularly breathtaking. If only NPR commentator Frank Deford’s narration weren’t so vanilla. With the exception of a snippet of Gershwin’s ever-sublime “Rhapsody in Blue,” the same can be said for the rather senior-skewing soundtrack.

My suggestion? Given the quasi-caffeinated cinematography, turn down the volume, cue up Philip Glass’ score to “Koyaanisqatsi,” and then you’ll really heart New York. “”Rod Lott


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