The Steve Martin-penned L.A. Story captures its city as an evolving stereotype. It’s characters speak harsh truths, but with a constant ear for sardonic wit. At the heart of the film is an electric road sign that constantly tells Martin to never give up fighting for love. “L.A. wants 2 help u,” the sign says at one point. How very sweet.
Last Action Hero (1993)
In Last Action Hero, L.A. is a place where you can hang out with your favorite action star, and be invincible alongside him. When I was kid, I used to wish I could go into my favorite films and blow shit up with my favorite movie stars, consequences be damned. That’d be bitchin’.
Everyone’s rich, everyone’s hooking up, partying, convincing teachers to give better grades – Clueless depicts a carefree life with few problems. Hell, everywhere takes only 20 minutes to get to, and in the end, the geek gets the girl. What’s not to love?
Get Shorty (1995)
In Get Shorty, any old chum can move into town, drive a shitty mini van, and become a Hollywood player overnight. Sold.
Friends. Drinks. Bars. Women. Cars. Golf. Auditions. Vegas. Diners. Video games. Friends. Drinks. Bars. Women. Cars. Diners. Hangovers. Music. Dancing. Repeat.
Boogie Nights (1997)
San Fernando Valley, 1977, where the drinks are tall, the music is groovin,’ the coke is on the table, the blow jobs are in the back room, the films are made tomorrow, and anyone can be a star. A big, bright, shining star.
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Punch-Drunk Love, where an early morning, a large mug of coffee, a car accident and an innocent piano can bring love into your life. A love you never thought to expect. So here we go.
The Aviator (2004)
I love how Martin Scorsese captured the Golden Age of Cinema in The Aviator. You walk into a club with Katharine Hepburn, order a giant steak, fake snow falls from the ceiling, Errol Flynn joins you, champagne flows. Heaven.
The Chateau Marmont is an L.A. staple. Stars have lived and died there. Drugs, booze, sex and rock ‘n’ roll… it’s all occured within its walls, many times over. And while Sofia Coppola doesn’t shy away from the partying aspect of the hotel, her Somewhere presents a version of Chateau Marmont that feels like a warm home. Ping pong and pool lounging, Coronas and burgers, Benicio Del Toro and eggs benedict. Not bad, Johnny Marco. Not bad at all.
We’ve all seen the Los Angeles River appear on screen dozens of times, perhaps most famously in the drag race scene in Grease. But the first time I saw Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Kaden Leos cruise whimsically down its path, College’s “A Real Hero,” gently pounding on the soundtrack, the sun pouring in, smiles, freedom. That is heaven.