Sunday, 29 January 2012

Week 5: California

"All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey,
 I went for a walk on a winter's day;
 I'd be safe and warm if I was in L.A.
 California dreamin' on such a winter's day..."
 - 'California Dreamin'',
 The Mamas & the Papas

It's cold outside so let's head to sunnier climes: we'll stick some Pet Sounds on the stereo, get the top down, and motor on to Big Sur to see the surf dudes take on the breakers on the Pacific coast. Yes, we're heading off to California, so be sure to wear some flowers in your hair, be aware that L.A. is a great big freeway, and ensure you avoid having to ask for assistance by pre-programming the sat-nav with accurate directions for getting to San Jose...

California is a big state, with a big population, and as the home of Hollywood it is a sort of default Americana. Sure, New York sparkles on screen, but chances are most other films were made in California just because that is where the sound stages, production crews and actors are based. But what I want to do is find three films that are not just default California, but three films that could not be set anywhere else. But the state has so much to offer: the hills and trams of Bullitt, the urban sprawl of L.A. Story and malls of Clueless, the campuses of The Graduate, the Spanish missions of Vertigo, the desolation of Zabriskie Point or the foggy coastline of The Birds. I could quite easily have filled an entire month with 'Californian' movies. But here is the three I have whittled it down to:

  • Sideways (2004)
  • Chinatown (1974)
  • Boyz n the Hood (1991)

I hope this gives me a wide enough range of experiences. Mind you, at the moment I have not actually managed to track down a copy of Boyz n the Hood. If I can't get hold of one soon I may have to substitute in a film that I already have a copy of, such as Heat or Anchorman...

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