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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Best Pictures: my favorite L.A. themed films, Part II

In honor of tomorrow's Academy Awards, I came up with a list of my top ten favorite films that take place here in Los Angeles. Here's Part II:


6.
Stand and Deliver is based on the true story of Garfield High School math teacher Jaime Escalante. A great, inspiring film.

I was paying my way through graduate school working a substitute school teacher (just a few miles from Garfield High) when the film came out in 1988 - so I particularly enjoyed it then, as now.


7. A similar film is the 2006 Akeelah and the Bee. Looking elsewhere on the web for more information, this film is either "completely fictional or "based on a true story" - I'm not sure which.

While it may have some unavoidable clich├ęs, it's an inspirational, highly recommended film. Plus, a major scene was filmed on my in-laws street (they live near USC) which was fun to see. If you've got kids, this is the one film on the list you want to put on your queue.

8. After seeing the film Friends with Money (2006), living here in Los Angeles my wife and I often refer to having "Friends with Money moments."

The film follows four women here on the westside of Los Angeles - where people with money are surrounded by people who wish they had money.

It's the Los Angeles that the rest of the world both loves and hates.

Although it's just a drama, for us it was like watching a documentary. Want to know what it's like to live in Los Angeles? I suggest watching Friends with Money. Rated R for language, some sexual content, and brief drug use.


9, If you want to know what it
was like to live in Los Angeles 30-40 years ago, Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001) is a good place to start. The only true documentary on this list, this film follows the Zephyr surf and skateboard team that emerged out of south Santa Monica in the late 1960's and 1970's (this film is not to be confused with the 2005 drama Lords of Dogtown).

The footage of the Zephyr team surfing in the wreckage of the old POP amusement pier is incredible, as is watching how a group of local teenagers redefined skateboarding, giving birth to the entire "extreme sports" movement.

I've checked this film out a half a dozen times from our local L.A. public library - I guess I should just buy it!


10. No list of movies that take place in Los Angeles would be complete without including Ridley Scott's 1982 film
Blade Runner. The film, which takes place in 2019, is a dark vision of a futuristic and very dysfunctional Los Angeles. According to an article on wikipedia:

Blade Runner continues to reflect modern trends and concerns, and an increasing number consider it one of the greatest science fiction films of all time. The film was selected for preservation in the in the United States National Film Registry in 1993 and is frequently used in university courses. In 2007, it was named the 2nd most visually influential film of all time (the first being Star Wars) by the Visual Effects Society.

As a Christian, I've also watched Blade Runner (especially the opening scenes) and asked myself: "what would it mean to live out my faith in that kind of environment? What will it mean to live as a Christian in the future? What does it mean to live as a Christian today?"

Getting back to the Academy Awards tomorrow night, as we don't have don't have network or cable TV, I'll be playing board games with my kids instead. For everyone else, enjoyed watching.

Here's hoping Up or The Blind Side do well.

Neither of which - surprise - take place in Los Angeles.



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