Ten Years Gone: Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Summer of 2008. Ludlow Guitars was still selling on its namesake street. Pianos still booked rock shows and wasn’t completely overrun with a bro-douche party. Cake Shop offered intimate indie shows in the basement with a record store up top. Bowery Boogie began in earnest.
It was also when Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, based on the novel of same (by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan), came out and thrust Hell Square onto the silver screen. Ten years gone, that excitement is gone.
In essence, the romantic comedy exploited (nay, glamorized) the energy of a nightlife scene that once-upon-a-time helped catapult bands like The Strokes, Interpol, LCD Soundsystem, and stellastarr* into the limelight. (Reference Lizzy Goodman’s Meet Me in the Bathroom.) The plot follows title characters Nick (Michael Cera) and Nora (Kat Dennings) – Hoboken high schoolers – as they run around downtown, mainly the Lower East Side, including a performance at Arlene’s Grocery. All set to a soundtrack of healthy indie cuts from the Aughts (Shout Out Louds, Devendra Banhart, Vampire Weekend, Band of Horses).
The movie itself is fairly derivative, your typical cheesy romantic comedy on steroids. Its saving grace is the soundtrack, and seeing what the neighborhood looked like ten years ago.
Of course, in the decade since its release, a sea change in the real-life Lower East Side took place. More demolition. More development. More displacement. More bars. And the music scene’s permanent shift of focus more toward Brooklyn.
If you want to take a trip down this memory lane, there is a screening tonight at the Village East Cinema as part of the Lower East Side Film Festival.