For a city whose river once caught on fire, Cleveland doesn’t seem to capture the imagination of many filmmakers. Sure, the Mistake by the Lake plays home to both one of the iconic Christmas movies of all time (“A Christmas Story”) and one of the most iconic baseball movies of all time (“Major League”). But outside of genre and the scruffy charm of the Harvey Pekar biopic “American Slendor,” you don’t see much of Cleveland in the movies.
Which is too bad, since the city embodies all that is both great and tragic about the American city – I would love to see a big-screen adaptation of Mark Weingarten’s epic novel “Crooked River Burning,” for example. But until then, by coincidence, two new films set in Cleveland, “The Land” and “Uncle Nick,” happen to be hitting DVD shelves this month. They’re very different films, but in their own ways both could only be made in Cleveland.