Joseph Gordon-Levitt

They say that New York’s one helluva town, so it’s no surprise that a massive swath of films are set in the city that never sleeps. From romantic comedies to mob dramas, everyone who’s anybody has found their focus somewhere in the streets of the five boroughs. In two new films, it seems that a couple of the players on your fantasy boyfriend roster are getting called up to tell two uniquely New York stories that may not necessarily be that well known in the grand scheme of the city’s history.

First up is Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing the whimsical sort of record-breaker you might expect him to portray. To Reach for the Clouds, helmed by Robert Zemeckis, will see Gordon-Levitt as 24-year-old high wire artist Philippe Petit, a man who dropped jaws and somehow managed to not die tightrope walking between the almost-completed Twin Towers in 1974. Petit gained international fame at the time due to his stunt, which he pulled off without permission — like anyone would willingly allow that to happen. Perched on a wire 1350 feet (a quarter mile) above the ground, Petit didn’t just walk the tightrope like some kind of one-time tightrope walking shmuck; he crossed between the towers eight times as 100,000 people gathered below to watch him complete his feat. Or, let’s be real, fall to his perilous doom.

The film is based on Petit’s memoir of the stunt, which recounts how he managed to pull off setting up the whole thing in the first place, and then getting up there and completing the walk — a six-year process. His accomplishment was the focus of the 2008 Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire, but it will be interesting to see it retold as a scripted drama; plus that Gordon-Levitt just seems like the kind of fella who already knows his way around a high wire, doesn’t he?

Taking things back about a hundred more years to the 1860s is the true story of another quirky and clever young man, this time Daniel Radcliffe, who must oversee the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge after his father, the lead engineer on the project dies. The Douglas McGrath film, the aptly titled Brooklyn Bridge, isn’t so much the story of the bridge getting built; it’s about Radcliffe’s young engineer getting in over his head with a massive undertaking of a project to the point of obsession. He is consumed to the brink of scariness by building that bridge that you’ve probably taken a novelty tourist photo on at the halfway point.

We kind of know the outcome with this one — the bridge gets built. Fortunately, the inexperienced engineer is also massively brilliant and has a “charming and shrewd” wife to give him pep talks/talk him down from the ledge when he’s getting too intense with his work. Bridge humor! Curious to know exactly what the “shrew” qualifier means; what exactly did this woman concoct to get the Brooklyn Bridge built?

And who will be the next charmingly cute gentleman to play an off-the-beaten path New Yorker with a story the world needs to know? I’ve got money on Miles Teller as the city’s first hot dog vendor.

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