Yesterday afternoon I was thinking about what film to watch that evening and, after seeing Chinatown on my DVD shelf, I impulsively decided that I’d have a season of films about LA. (Back when I had the Lovefilm deliveries I would do this all the time; the best was a Bergman season, the most disappointing was John Ford – his great films are great, but he also made a lot of sentimental, incoherent rubbish).
The remit for the LA film season is that it has to be films where LA is the subject or the subtext to the film. (there are thousands and thousands of films that are just ‘in’ LA). I tweeted a photo of the films that I own where I think that LA somehow features as a subject in the film…..
…and then asked Twitter for other suggestions.
I’ve done the “Ask Twitter” thing before. When I came to Germany on holiday in 2011 I asked people to suggest non-obvious German bands/musicians so as to make a Spotify playlist. Out of that I discovered Tocotronic who have become one of my favourite bands. (Arch, smart, funny, slack band who have nothing to do with pre-Wall Germany and all the worn out political seriousness that went with that world). I saw them a few months back in Hamburg in a venue just off the Reeperbahn, which was above the Kaiserkeller where the Beatles played. It was a thrilling gig for all sorts of reasons – and it all stemmed from asking advice on Twitter 7 years ago.
And it paid to ask for LA film suggestions y’day. There were dozens of fantastic suggestions – some obvious (which I feel really thick about missing – Pulp Fiction, Sunset Blvd, Die Hard), some I’d forgotten (Colors, LA Story, End of Watch) and quite a few I don’t know (Night of the Locust, To Live And Die In LA)
The film that I don’t know that was most suggested was a documentary called Los Angeles Plays Itself. I’ve seen clips of it online and it looks like it should really be the starting point for all this – it looks like it is a documentary about how LA appears in film – how the physicality of the city and cinema seem entwined.
But I don’t have a copy of that yet (one is on the way). So the first film I watched was Chinatown. I’m not going to drone on about how brilliant it is, but it is a proper masterpiece which is about LA and also about storytelling itself, about meaning and experience. There’s loads of really good stuff written about it online (such as this Guardian piece ).
This is the list of films I plan to watch based on the suggestions made.
A List (definites)
Chinatown, Get Shorty, Repo Man, Terminator (1&2), Boogie Nights, Magnolia, The Big Sleep, Mulholland Drive, LA Confidential, Less Than Zero, Short Cuts, LA Plays Itself, Sunset Boulevard, The Long Goodbye, To Live and Die in LA, Day Of The Locust, End of Watch, Heat, The Big Lebowski, In a Lonely Place, Barton Fink, They Live, Class, Collateral, Boyz N The Hood, Falling Down, The Exiles, Farewell My Lovely, The Doors, Somewhere, The Player, Maps To The Stars, La La Land, Singin’ In The Rain, Ed Wood, L.A Story, Double Indemnity, Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles, Fletch, Shampoo, Crash,
B list (maybe – because of time and money)
Rampart, True Romance, American Gigolo, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Earth Girls Are Easy, Miracle Mile, Speed, Life Stinks, Save The Tiger, In Search of a Midnight Kiss, Smiley Face, Nightcrawler Fast Times At Ridgemont High, The Nice Guys, Mildred Pierce, The Blue Dahlia, Pretty Woman, Training Day. Lethal Weapon. The Glimmer Man. The Last Boy Scout, Blade Runner, The Graduate