Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ready for the FoB: Favorite Movies of L.A.

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The city of Los Angeles has been my home since birth. The same goes for my wife of 21 years, and naturally, my kids. One of the ongoing joys for this Angeleno family of mine is our annual trek out to the neighborhood of Westwood and participating in the annual L.A. Times Festival of Books on the campus of U.C.L.A. Besides all of the festival exhibitions, panels, and indy book store booths available for those who love books, there are all sorts of happenings, references, and information on the history and the ongoing discourse of film at the festival, too. Every year, some of the book panels are dedicated to the movies in our lives, along with the remarkable craft of screenwriting. You even have actors and directors promoting their written work from time-to-time. I found out today that David Lynch will be on hand to sign his latest book, Catching the Big Fish, at Book Soup's booth come Saturday.

As well, there's always something going on in this city, and sometimes they involve both book and film... and they conflict. Case in point, TCM (Turner Classic Movies) chose this same weekend for their inaugural TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood (April 22 - 25). Late last year, my friend Corey encouraged me to go this (he'd been having his own TCM-fest on cable). I didn't realize, at the time, it was going to all occur on this weekend! Arghhh... So, on top of the Festival of Books, some of the all-time great film classics will be on glorious display in theaters by the area of the Cahuenga Pass. I'll still try and make a couple of the films late at night this weekend (if time and energy allow) while spending my daylight hours with my good blogger friends over at the book fest by the Sepulveda Pass. I'll also begin lobbying TCM to move next year's film fest away from the same traditional weekend as the Festival of Books (we'll see how that goes). In the meantime, I will complete the latter segment from yesterday's FoB post which was based upon the recent Jacket Copy blog interview of author T. Jefferson Parker and his annual attendance at the festival. JC's last question for the local  author fit well into this week's forthcoming festivities:
"Do you have a favorite book or movie about Los Angeles?"
TJP's favorite L.A. movie: Chinatown. In keeping with his excellent book choice of yesterday, the author sure knows his movies (my answers are after the jump).

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  1. You can't say you're sorry on your own blog, but did you leave any out, lol. I'll go for Chinatown #1 and Sunset Blvd those are real good. 
    Due to your influence, I watched "Wages of Fear" enjoyed it very much and the extras were good. Of course it was chopped for the US release in the 50's and the McCarthy crap. Now I'm ready for the Scorcer, thanks again.
    Love Bogart, but have fell asleep during the "Big Sleep" twice, no joke! I'll have to try again with coffee instead of wine since its in my collection. 

  2. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed Wages of Fear, Herb. Yeah, The Big Sleep can do that because of its crazy plotting. It even has two different cuts! I guess I love it for Bogie and Bacall, and the sharp dialogue. Thanks for your comment, my friend.

  3. I did much better with the L.A. movies than I did with the books.   :-P   I've seen 12 of them.  Great list!  Tough to pick a favorite, but I'd say L.A. Confidential is at the top for me.

  4. L.A. Confidential would be a great one to head any list. I just re-watched it a couple of weeks ago (my annual viewing). Thanks, Christine.

  5. So many favorites here. Love The Big Sleep, Chinatown, Tequila Sunrise, Grifters, To Live and Die in LA, The Limey, and so many others. Still need to see Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Mulholland Drive though. Is Mulholland Drive based on another Roderick Thorp book (as Die Hard was)? What ever happened to Thorp, haven't thought about him in a while.

    Maybe I need to see Into the Night again. I remember going to see it but it didn't leave a lasting impression.

  6. I highly recommend Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Mulholland Dr., Naomi. The latter is a David Lynch film. J.D.'s description in his My 25 Favorite Films of the Decade post describes best:

    "David Lynch's atmospheric ode to memory and the cutthroat nature of Hollywood all held together by a neo-noir tale of mystery with a blisteringly fierce performance by Naomi Watts. This film runs the gamut of emotions, from humorous gags to heartwrenching emotion to moments of absolute horror."

    You might be thinking of the film Mulholland Falls, which is based on a book by Pete Dexter, and strives to be in the same class as Chinatown and L.A. Confidential. IMO, it falls short of that mark. Also, movie blogger Mr. Peel had a great examination of Into the Night you might be interested in. Thanks very much for your comment, Naomi.

  7. Good list!  I've seen 15 of those.  I'd tab "L.A. Confidential" and "Chinatown" as my favorites.

    A couple of others I might add - "Changeling," which was good but not great, but I thought did a good job of evoking the city.  And "Valley Girl!"  (And maybe even Steve Martin's "L.A. Story."

  8. I'd agree with you about Eastwood's Changeling (it kind of surprised me how dark it could get and how well it could evoke the city). I'm going to have to revisit Valley Girl and L.A. Story, Jeff. Thanks for adding to this.

  9. Great list! I would agree with most of these choices and would rank CHINATOWN right up there. What a great, great film! I would also echo somebody else who mentioned L.A. STORY. I always felt it was Steve Martin's west coast answer to Woody Allen's MANHATTAN.

    I would also add: REPO MAN and FLETCH, the latter, in particular, does what I imagine to be a nice job of showing off the geography of L.A. and for years was the way I imagined the city to be.

  10. I <span>really</span> have to re-visit L.A. Story. I saw it in the early 90's, but not since. Good call on Repo Man and Fletch. Thanks for adding to this and your kind words, J.D.

  11. I'd definitely have some of yours on my list such as Heat and Get Shorty. I'd also have Crash.

  12. And a fine L.A. movie that is, Nordette. Thanks for adding to this, my friend.