Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Top 10 Movies that Make L.A. Look Like Heaven

Yesterday, I provided a handful of films that made L.A. look like hell. The thing about those movies is that they depict Hell on Earth for the bulk of their running time, so in that regard, a brief warning for today’s list. Believe me, I know some of the 10 movies below contain scenes of emotional turmoil and extreme violence, which are far from anyone’s definition of Heaven. But at least part of the movies below are dedicated to making L.A. earn its title as the City of Angels. Enjoy!

L.A. Story (1991)
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’.

Clueless (1995)
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.

Swingers (1996)
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.

Somewhere (2010)
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.

Drive (2011)
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.

Click here for more lists from And So it Begins…, including:
Top 10 Movies that Make L.A. Look Like Hell

28 comments:

  1. A lot of people seem to hate that scene from Drive. I think it looks heavenly too, and kind of super important to the story.

    Nice list. How's L.A. my big director friend? :P

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    1. Really, they HATE it? That's nuts. I think that scene is beautiful and tender and gorgeous and unique. I love it.

      I arrive in LA tomorrow! Five day drive to get there. Can't wait :)

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  2. Two great and timely lists as you make your way to the city of angels.
    Julie

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    1. Thanks so much! Really excited to get there!

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  3. Somewhere is my favorite of the bunch. Man, it just makes Los Angeles so beautiful and the scenes of the skyline at night. Only Sofia and Harris Savides could do that.

    I'm glad you didn't put City of Angels. That film fucking sucks. An insult to Wim Wenders and cinephiles.

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    1. Exactly. Sofia and Harris were a fantastic pair, weren't they? I just love the look of Somewhere.

      City of Angels... yeah, that's just a bad movie. No other way around it.

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    2. At least the soundtrack was awesome, right?

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    3. Big Sarah McLachlan there, Dan?

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  4. Excellent list man. You'll have to let us know when you're kicking it Swingers-style, it must be very exciting.

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  5. Damn man, I love this post. It's not just that you make me want to move to LA (conveniently forgetting yesterday's post) but your blurb for each movie had me laughing out loud in delight. These are brilliant!

    "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."

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    1. Ha, glad you liked them buddy! Tried to be short and to the point. Just trying to speak that truth!

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  6. I love that scene in Drive :)
    I really need to see Somewhere!
    Haha - nice inclusion of Boogie Nights!

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    1. That scene in Drive is perfect, isn't it? Love it so much.

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  7. Nicely done man. The only scene that would probably make mine would be Drive's, as I don't think I could probe this deeply into these films. Punch-Drunk Love, Somewhere and The Aviator are awesome choices, but I'd forget to mention them. Great job at thinking outside the box.

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    1. Thanks dude. This one was a lot harder to write up than the Hell one. Which is kind of funny. Hell trumps Heaven in LA, I suppose.

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  8. Awesome to see Boogie Nights here, the last 1/3 of the film would probably fit the nightmare list well, but the beginning when it's all fun and games is really enchanting.

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    1. I was tempted to put it on both of the lists (along with Drive) but I decided to spread the wealth. Definitely some hell within that Boogie!

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  9. Alex, it's always great to see a mention of L.A. Story. I love that movie and the way Steve Martin adores LA. Some of the comedy is obvious, but it all works for me.

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    1. Glad to hear you appreciate that one. It's a shame it doesn't get talked about more. A nearly perfect satire.

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  10. Another film that I think does a good showcase of LA is 500 Days of Summer. It might be because of Tom's interest in architecture, but it really shows off the beauty of the city. I also enjoy how it makes it seem like a normal city, where people who aren't celebrities or at least incredibly rich can exist comfortably.

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    1. That was definitely close to making the cut here, mostly because of what you said in your last sentence. In that film, LA feels more like the real LA. It isn't a place where you bump into A-listers at every corner. It can be magical, but you're responsible for seeking out some of the magic.

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  11. Interesting that you put Clueless on the list. The film made me hate LA -but then again I'm not keen on Clueless.

    I'm a sucker for teen movies but I just don't get Clueless. There's no character that I can identify with and the film feels like a live action cartoon. It's just too unrealistic for me.

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    1. It's SO unrealistic. You're spot on. It makes a crazy, tumultuous city like LA look like a cartoon, indeed. Heavenly, one could say.

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  12. Pulp Fiction (1994) - Jack Rabbit Slim's!!! in that LA I want to go.

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    1. Ha, you have an interesting perception of Heaven!

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