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Mukunda Angulo, star of the critically acclaimed documentary The Wolfpack, shares how four iconic New York films helped shape who he is.

Mukunda Angulo
The first part of Mukunda Angulo’s life was spent locked away with his siblings in a housing project on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Homeschooled by their mother, their knowledge of the outside world was gleaned almost entirely from movies. The films that resonated with them the most were those based in New York City, a severe, scary, and yet seductive place that existed right outside their windows—close in proximity, but far from their reality. In 2010, things changed forever when Mukunda dared to leave the apartment against his father’s orders. Since that day, he’s become a ravenous explorer of the city (and now even the world). What’s most impressive: he’s chosen to own his past rather than be ashamed of it—to be a courageous player in life rather than a victim of his childhood. Inspired by his story and perspective, we spent a day with him on the streets of NYC and asked him to tell us how four of his favorite New York films have had an impact on his life.


MANHATTAN, 1979.
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MANHATTAN, 1979.

Romantic Comedy. Directed by Woody Allen. Starring Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Mariel Hemingway, and Woody Allen.
Nominated for two Academy Awards.

“The first time I saw this movie, I got to see a side of New York I hadn't seen in other films. It also illustrated how weird and crazy relationships can get. The opening of the film, in black and white, dazzled me with its epic shots of Manhattan. To this day, it's a film that screams to me how special New York City can be.”

TAXI DRIVER, 1976.
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TAXI DRIVER, 1976.

Psychological Thriller. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Starring Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, and Cybill Shepherd.
Nominated for four Academy Awards.

“This was one of the first films I ever saw, and it taught me what a taxi actually was. On those rare occasions when we could leave the apartment, whenever I would see a cab, I would call it the “Taxi Driver car.” This film showed me how dangerous and crazy life can be, and how hard driving a cab can get. And, of course, I’d talk to myself in the mirror reciting De Niro's line "you talkin’ to me?" I still recite lines from the film while walking the streets of New York, and often wonder what it would it be like to have a mohawk.”

>MIDNIGHT COWBOY, 1969.
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MIDNIGHT COWBOY, 1969.

Drama. Directed by John Schlesinger. Starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman.
Winner of three Academy Awards.

“I actually didn't love this movie when I first saw it. I was about 13 or 14 years old and it felt different than the other New York-based films. Today, though, it's one of my all-time favorite New York films, and probably my favorite Jon Voight film. It’s a movie that reminds me to look at the people on the streets of New York and remember that, like Joe Buck, they all have a story to tell.”

THE FRENCH CONNECTION, 1971.
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THE FRENCH CONNECTION, 1971.

Dramatic Action Thriller. Directed by William Friedkin. Starring Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, and Roy Schedier.
Winner of an Academy Award for Best Picture.

“The performances and storytelling in this film completely captured me, and seeing what New York looked like in the 70s was fascinating. It also was an inspiration for me in a style sense—a way for me to model how I dress in the wintertime. And it taught me how important location is. In movies, the locations can feel just like a character. And New York City is most definitely a character.”




Culture tip: If you haven’t yet seen The Wolfpack, stop what you’re doing and watch it on Netflix now. Then watch (or re-watch) all of the iconic films listed above. You’re welcome.