Last week I went to see American Gangster and had a terrible problem figuring out where certain scenes were supposed to be taking place. Basically, I kept seeing familiar Brooklyn locations and assuming the scenes took place in Brooklyn. But in reality these scenes were supposed to be accepted as being in New Jersey. So, throughout the first half of the movie, I didn't get that Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) lived and worked in the Garden State. Instead, I kept associating him with McCarren Park and other Williamsburg locales. The main confusion, though, stemmed from one early scene in particular, which features the Williamsburg Bridge prominently in the background. Where in New Jersey could this be intended to be? Sure, I can understand filming in Brooklyn and pretending it's elsewhere, but to use such a glaring landmark seems strange. Had the scene been shot from the opposite direction, the bridge wouldn't have been there. And this is a film that apparently used a computer to digitally add in the World Trade Center. So, there had to be some seriousness when it came to the film's locations.

Many of us have watched movies where we know the exact filming location of a particular scene. Often, we notice the movie has taken liberties with the location, such as when a character leaves a familiar building and then appears to walk across the street, yet the other side of the street is (known to us to be) actually somewhere across town. Whatever, that's the magic of the movies. But it's different when the movie is substituting one location for another yet includes a well-known structure such as a bridge. On an elevated level, it'd be like filming in San Franciso and calling it Seattle, yet clearly featuring the Golden Gate Bridge in a number of shots. Okay, that is obviously a too extreme case, as everyone recognizes the Golden Gate and maybe only us New Yorkers recognize the Williamsburg. In any event, I ask you: when have a movie's filming locations been so off that they disrupted your whole sense of setting?