8 Movies That Take Place In L.A.

8 Movies That Take Place In L.A.

When people refer to Los Angeles, most of the time they refer to downtown L.A., a central urban area populated by skyscrapers. Los Angeles County, on the other hand, is the 4,083 square mile region in Southern California which incorporates 88 official cities and 76 unincorporated communities, making it one of the most diverse areas in the world.

Areas such as the San Fernando Valley, South Central, Hollywood, Malibu, and Pasadena all fall under the blanket of Los Angeles County. As disparate as all these communities may be, Angelinos share many commonalities: the complex and often overcrowded freeway system, smog, constant construction, dry desert weather, and a thriving car culture, to name a few.

Los Angeles is also home to Hollywood, one of the biggest filmmaking capitals in the world. People from all over the world flock to L.A. with the hopes of “making it” in the movie industry. However, not all films shot in L.A. truly depict what it’s like to live in L.A.

The following films not only take place in the city of dreams, but offer some sort of commentary or history about life within this expansive, crime filled, smog-ridden, movie making desert city by the beach.

1. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)

Billy Wilder’s classic film dramatically depicts the tragic lives of the artists Hollywood has rejected. Set in Hollywood, where the movie industry is of central concern for the characters, the film highlights the characters’ desire to work within a business that doesn’t have room for them.

A struggling screenwriter, Joe Gillis (William Holden), labors away at screenplays that aren’t selling. With rent on his studio apartment behind by three months and his car threatened of getting repossessed, he is desperately in need of a job. He stumbles into the driveway of an enormous dilapidated mansion on Sunset Boulevard, home to aging glamor queen of the 1920s, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), and her live-in servant Max (Erich von Stroheim).

Upon discovering Gillis is a writer, Norma takes him on as a ghost writer to her epic “come-back” film story idea. Gillis becomes prisoner to the lonely and delusional Norma, who cannot come to terms with her faded celebrity.

Both characters have been cast out of the Hollywood industry: Norma because of her age and her inability to keep up with the changes of modern Hollywood; Gillis because his story ideas don’t seem to adhere to the unstable demands of Hollywood’s production companies.

This film’s focus is Hollywood and ways in which artists are affected by the superficial and changeable nature of the movie business. Artists like Norma or Joe Gillis crumble in this place that values novelty and youth.

2. Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955)

This innovative film is recognized as one of the first mainstream movies to depict teenage angst. Set in the Los Angeles suburbs, Ray’s sensitive story depicts three middle-class teenagers and their chaotic emotional turmoil.

A teenage misfit, Jim Stark (James Dean), is new to a suburban L.A. town. He is brought into the local police station for being drunk and disorderly while his parents are out at a party. Upset at his parents’ constant arguing as well as the feeling that his father is being emasculated by his mother, Jim has no one to connect with. He meets Judy (Natalie Wood) and Plato (Sal Mineo); both also frustrated and upset at their unaffectionate and absent parents.

The three become confidants after a teenage punk is killed racing Jim to the edge of a bluff in a game of “chicken.” On the run from a group of punks who believe Jim snitched to the police, the three friends hide out in an abandoned mansion in the Hollywood hills.

Unlike many films made during the 50s, this film ventures out of the studio. We see authentic locations in Los Angeles. L.A.’s Griffith Observatory, overlooking the L.A. grid, is featured twice in the film as an important spot for the three friends.

The exteriors of the high school that Jim, Judy, and Plato attend is Santa Monica High School, the real life alumni of which include: Charlie Sheen, Sean Penn, and Robert Downey, Jr. Interestingly, the abandoned mansion where the friends hide out is the Getty Mansion, a property once owned by oil-tycoon and art collector J. Paul Getty, and where Sunset Boulevard was also shot.

As well as featuring recognizable sites around L.A., the film also shows the suburban neighborhoods with white picket fences to illustrate the sunny veneer beneath which these teenagers are facing their emotional anguish.

3. The Exiles (Kent Mackenzie, 1961)

Kent Mackenzie’s film offers a rare glimpse into the lives of Native Americans living in the historic Bunker Hill district during the early 1960s. Shot with documentary-style realism, the film examines the everyday lives of Native American friends within the bustling city of downtown L.A.

The film follows a group of Native American friends, playing themselves, as they wander the streets of downtown Los Angeles one night, drinking and socializing. Mackenzie mixes unscripted voice-over interviews with improvised scenes of the friends hanging out at bars and dancing on “Hill X,” overlooking the city.

The Bunker Hill district in downtown L.A. was originally designed with Victorian style houses in the mid-19th century as a neighborhood for the well-to-do.

In the face of urban growth, wealthier residents began leaving, in lieu of the suburbs of Pasadena or the Westside. In post-war years, Bunker Hill became a slum area, housing people in poverty- like L.A.’s Native American and Latino population. Today the neighborhood is home to high-rises and cultural spaces, such as the MOCA, the Broad Art Museum, and Walt Disney Concert Hall.

This film expertly mixes pseud-documentary social commentary with modern realist filmmaking, discussing the displacement of Native Americans from their indigenous lands, as well as addressing the ambitions of the poverty-stricken youth hoping for better lives for themselves in Los Angeles.

4. The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman, 1973)

Altman’s version of the 1953 Raymond Chandler novel sets Philip Marlowe in 1970s Los Angeles. Although the story deviates from the book, the film provides a fantastic, somewhat comic re-interpretation of the hardboiled detective genre. Altman establishes the classic private investigator character in Los Angeles’ scenic, modern setting, updating and satirizing the genre at the same time.

Philip Marlowe (Elliott Gould) is feeding his fussy cat when his old friend Terry Lennox (played by baseball player Jim Bouton) asks for a ride to Tijuana. Marlowe agrees. Upon his return, Marlowe is confronted by two police detectives asking about the whereabouts of Lennox, accused of murdering his wife, Sylvia Lennox.

Refusing to provide any information, Marlowe is jailed by the police for three days. He learns soon thereafter that Lennox apparently committed suicide in Mexico, which provides the police with a satisfactory completion of their case. They quickly free Marlowe. However, Marlowe is suspicious of this news and starts investigating, soon becoming entangled in a larger scheme.

This “neo-noir” crime film places a suited, chain-smoking 1950s-eque private investigator within the relaxed, hippie-filled L.A. of the 1970s.

Elements of the city’s modernity are everywhere: Marlowe’s apartment in the Hollywood hills is full of stoner, hippie neighbors; Marlowe is asked to search for Roger Wade (Sterling Hayden), alcoholic writer, whom he discovers at a private detox clinic (Detox clinic? Did someone say L.A.?); Marlowe’s catch phrase, “It’s okay with me,” typifying his relaxed yet sardonic attitude.

The classic detective genre is satirized by Altman’s film, which immerses the loyal Philip Marlowe in Los Angeles’ decadence of the 1970s.

5. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)

Polanski’s classic film, consistently ranked as one of the best films ever made, tells the story of private investigator, Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson), who becomes caught in a whirlwind mystery of corruption and murder as he investigates the actions and then death of Hollis Mulwray, chief engineer for L.A.’s Department of Water and Power.

Gittes is approached by a woman who identifies herself as Mrs. Mulwray, who hires him to investigate her husband. A scandal breaks out when he takes photos of Mr. Mulwray in the arms of another woman.

The real Mrs. Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) confronts Gittes, explaining that he was tricked. Soon thereafter, Mr. Mulwray ends up dead by drowning in an apparent murder. Gittes quickly begins to uncover the sordid facts of Los Angeles’ stolen water supply, as well as the dirty details of Mrs. Mulwray’s personal life.

The film is based on true Los Angeles history in regards to the misconduct of Southern California’s water supply, led by civil engineer William Mulholland. In the early 1910-1920s, large amounts of water were diverted from the Owens Valley into Los Angeles in an effort to expand L.A.’s population. This caused a major drought and agricultural problem in the Owen’s Valley, resulting in a violent conflict between local famers and L.A. water officials.

A neo-noir, this film portrays Los Angeles as a dark place filled with shady dealings. It is a place where corruption thrives and informed people are virtually powerless to stop it.

6. The Decline of Western Civilization (Penelope Spheeris, 1981)

Penelope Spheeris’ rockumentary documents the L.A. punk scene during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The film mixes concert footage from a variety of punk bands (such as X, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, and Fear) with interviews with the bands, club owners, record owners, and locals analyzing the punk scene.

This film is the first part of a trilogy of documentaries examining the emergence of various rock music coming from Los Angeles in the 1980s through the 1990s. It acts as a time capsule of the budding hardcore punk scene in Los Angeles as it records the wild performers and audience members. During the time, hardcore punk did not receive much coverage in magazines or on the radio, perhaps due to its controversial, rebellious content.

This makes the film all the more valuable, since it captures the raw moments on stage and in the mosh pit, which were not widely seen in film before this time. It attempts to understand the nature of punk music and the punk lifestyle that manifested during this period in Southern California.

7. Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)

This neo-noir, set in 2019, captures a gritty, dystopian side of L.A. With this futuristic action thriller, Ridley Scott envisions what Los Angeles may become in the no-so-distant future.

The story occurs during a time when bioidentical artificial intelligence, called “replicants,” are being put to use on off-planet colonies. Replicants are banned from coming to Earth, but a handful have escaped and are hiding out in L.A.– possibly to contact their powerful manufacturer, the Tyrell Corporation, and attempt to extend their four year lifespan. Ex-police agent and “Blade Runner” Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is given the job to track down and “retire” the replicants.

The production design, lighting, and cinematography is highly stylized in this film, and all come together nicely to give Los Angeles a sleek, yet decaying feel. The L.A. skyline is crowded with neon signs, smoke stacks, and giant skyscrapers, making it feel as though the characters are living within an industrial wasteland.

There are remnants of the old fashioned, Art Deco-esque architecture authentic to Los Angeles, which in the film seems to be crumbling beneath the high tech expansion in this futuristic city. Smoke and shadows mysteriously engulf the characters in this world where human and robot are indistinguishable.

8. Repo Man (Alex Cox, 1984)

This bizarre cult film uses the landscape of downtown Los Angeles as the framework of the film’s unusual story. One part sci-fi, one part action, one part dark comedy, Repo Man utilizes downtown L.A.’s concrete jungle as the backdrop to the film’s rough, delinquent characters.

Emilo Estevez plays Otto, a young punk feeling his way through the world, looking for sex, work, and purpose. He becomes involved with a kooky group of Repo men, led by Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), who take Otto under their collective wing. Meanwhile, government agents seek a mysterious Chevy Malibu, apparently carrying radioactive alien material. The film erupts into chaotic absurdity when the repo agency confronts the government, a rival repo group, and the radioactive Malibu worth $20,000.

Robby Müller’s fantastic cinematography frequently makes use of long shots, placing the characters within the landscape of L.A. Barren concrete streets, telephone poles, highway bridges, and neon lights surround the characters at all times.

Müller shoots half of the film with the characters inside their stolen or repossessed cars, creating the appropriate atmosphere of L.A.’s vagabond car culture. Although the film’s story is eccentric and sometimes uneven, the depiction of Los Angeles’ raw 1980s punk scene feels no less authentic.

When people refer to Los Angeles, most of the time they refer to downtown L.A., a central urban area populated by skyscrapers. Los Angeles County, on the other hand, is the 4,083 square mile region in Southern California which incorporates 88 official cities and 76 unincorporated communities, making it one of the most diverse areas in the world.

Areas such as the San Fernando Valley, South Central, Hollywood, Malibu, and Pasadena all fall under the blanket of Los Angeles County. As disparate as all these communities may be, Angelinos share many commonalities: the complex and often overcrowded freeway system, smog, constant construction, dry desert weather, and a thriving car culture, to name a few.

Los Angeles is also home to Hollywood, one of the biggest filmmaking capitals in the world. People from all over the world flock to L.A. with the hopes of “making it” in the movie industry. However, not all films shot in L.A. truly depict what it’s like to live in L.A.

The following films not only take place in the city of dreams, but offer some sort of commentary or history about life within this expansive, crime filled, smog-ridden, movie making desert city by the beach.

This article originally appeared on Tasteofcinema.com.

William Onyeabor

William Onyeabor

In January of 2017, William Onyeabor passed away.

In 2005, David Byrne’s globe-trotting label Luaka Bop—after investigating the sounds of Brazil, Cuba, and the like—released World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love’s A Real Thing – The Funky Fuzzy Sounds Of West Africa. Along with the likes of the breathtaking É**thiopiques series and Strut’s relentlessly funky Nigeria 70 set from 2001, the compilation helped spur a revival in African music from the continent’s “Golden Age,” that time in the 1960s and 70s when European imperialism was for the most part eradicated, artists and culture flourished, and before many of these nations’ leaders turned despotic. That renaissance has continued on into the present moment, from the work of imprints like Analog Africa, Soundway, and Awesome Tapes from Africa (to name just a few of many active reissue labels), even as Africa’s embarrassment of riches has turned into a glut of sorts, a decidedly First World problem to have.

In those intervening years, Luaka Bop tried with little success to track down William Onyeabor, whose “Better Change Your Mind” appeared on both their comp and the Nigeria 70 set. Little info could be found about the man, though the reports varied wildly: he studied cinematography in Russia, he self-financed his own movie, he was a titan of industry in his native Nigeria with a flour mill, he had business interests in Sweden. About the only thing for certain was that Onyeabor self-released eight albums from 1977-1985 at an annual report clip, before disavowing music for Christianity. Since then, Onyeabor’s music has been bootlegged while original copies can go for upwards of $500 online.

Previous decades have led to re-appraisals of the likes of King Sunny Ade, Ali Farka Touré, Youssou N’Dour, Salif Keita, and Fela Kuti, and Luaka Bop’s handy new set Who is William Onyeabor? (the first legitimate reissue of his music) posits the man for a 21st century audience, where his sonic sensibilities seem best suited. While those aforementioned African icons gained renown on the world music circuit for their guitar work, their distinct voices, their rhythmic innovations, Onyeabor favored an instrument rarely heard from the African Diaspora, the analog synthesizer.

An array of keyboards can be seen on the cover of Onyeabor’s final album Anything You Sow and across the man’s discography, they evolve from serving as accompaniment to becoming the primary instrument. “Something You Will Never Forget” features a crisp backbeat, Afrobeat horn skronk, and Onyeabor’s organ in roller rink mode, the most conventional song on the set. But on opener “Body and Soul” (a longtime dancefloor staple) Onyeabor tickles the keys then warps them until they sound like an inter-dimensional portal in the midst of the song’s slinking groove. It happens again five minutes into his biggest “hit,” “Atomic Bomb” a heavily wah-wah’d keyboard doing its best Bernie Worrell when-the-Mothership-lands impression.

All but one of the comp’s nine tracks comes in under six minutes (with three topping the 10-minute mark), and most of the songs are structured similarly, at times making the set feel same-y. A steady, boxy drum rhythm (some utilizing drum machine), smatterings of guitar, a bevy of female back-up singers doing call and responses with Onyeabor’s naïf yet endearing English lyrics, but central to each track is Onyeabor’s synth work. The closest comparison to this set might be that of Indian guitarist-turned synth enthusiast Charanjit Singh’s 1982 album Synthesizing: Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat, which no doubt sounded like a rinky-dink curio during its time, but in hindsight was revealed to have anticipated acid and techno by a number of years so that by the time of its reissue it sounded downright revelatory to 21st century listeners. Similarly, Onyeabor’s strange use of the synthesizer as embellishment presages that of any number of outsider electronic music producers by three decades. It’s little wonder that the likes of Four Tet, James Holden, Caribou and more have already been buzzing with their accolades for the man and the weird funk of “Fantastic Man” could easily be mistaken for a modern Dam-Funk track.

Whereas Sunny Ade’s singular guitar tone could be as mighty and rippling as a river and Fela Kuti and Tony Allen’s Afrobeat was a force of nature, Onyeabor’s music often times sounds warbling and flimsy, economical and tinny. Some of this might come from the set drawing on vinyl sources rather than master tapes, but knowing of the man’s imminent Christian conversion, it’s not a stretch to see parallels between Onyeabor’s organ tone and those of private-pressed religious records. Onyeabor’s sound is as homemade and insular as anything on last year’s Personal Space compilation, as strange and extraterrestrial as that of Sun Ra. Who is William Onyeabor? doesn’t provide any answers its own posited question, but the mystery and wonder of the man’s music remains intact.

This article originally appeared on PitchFork.com.

Susan Budoff First Rate Team

Susan Budoff First Rate Team

Susan Budoff with First Rate Team has been in the Mortgage Industry for over fourteen years. She has helped families and individuals from all walks of life purchase the home of their dreams.

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Magic Camp Comes To Moorpark

Recently, Disney filmed a feature length movie called “Magic Camp” at the High Street Arts Center. This film stars Adam Devine (“Pitch Perfect,” “Workaholics”), Gillian Jacobs (“Community,” “Girls”) and Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent,” “The Larry Sanders Show”). The film is being directed by Mark Waters (“Bad Santa 2,” and “Mean Girls”). This movie is geared towards family audiences, but is guaranteed to be enjoyable for all age groups. Also, Magic Camp is likely to conjure up some laughs due to the fact that several of the people associated with this movie have been in comedic roles before.

The Walt Disney Company filmed a portion of Magic Camp inside of the High Street Arts Center. During production, they had to temporarily renovate portions of the theater to make it better fit the tone and feel of the movie, as well as modernize portions of it. Filming at the theater took place over the course of three weeks, and it shot at the theater for ten days. It is also worth noting that this was the largest production to ever take place on East High Street, which is saying something because a number of Hollywood productions have been filmed there before including Weird Al’s “Amish Paradise.”

Magic Camp stars Tambor as Roy Preston, the owner of a summer camp for child magicians. Devine plays Andy, a former camper whose magical career has taken a turn for the worse. Because of Andy’s unfortunate circumstance, he decides to become a counselor at the camp. Although a rating for this movie has yet to be announced, it is suspected that the film will either be given a G or a PG rating.

You might be wondering why the City of Moorpark specifically was chosen to have a portion of this movie filmed there, and the answer has to do with a database system that Hollywood has. Essentially, there is a database system that exists that outlines different places where filming has taken place in the past, and when a movie, music video, television show or web series needs a locale, they refer back to this database/catalog for the kind of location they need. As it can be assumed since Moorpark is so close to Los Angeles and Burbank where most of the studios reside, it makes sense that they would venture out to nearby areas for unique filming opportunities.

Magic Camp is slated for a 2017 release. So when it hits theaters, make sure to buy a ticket and see it; if for no other reason you will be seeing Moorpark represented in a major motion picture.

Top Music Cities That Aren’t New York Or LA

Top Music Cities That Aren’t New York Or LA

If Hollywood has taught us anything, it’s that music happens in one of two cities: New York or Los Angeles. These are the places you go if you really want to make it big — if you want to pay exorbitant amounts to live in a crumbling apartment and slowly lose all creative energy.

It’s true, you can find music in these cities. But they aren’t the only — or even the best — places for young music lovers in America. The best music in the country typically comes from where you’d least expect it — the tight-knit, weirder scenes outside the mainstream. The following are some of the best cities in the country for young musicians — places with rich histories and bold musical futures:

Palm Desert, California

The Palm Desert scene is exactly what the name might suggest: A distinct brand of sludgy, psychedelic alternative rock churned by heavy groups like Kyuss, Eagles of Death Metal and Queens of the Stone Age. Josh Homme, frontman of the latter group, even created the Desert Sessions, a series of recordings with artists from the scene who pay tribute to the idiosyncratic movement. It’s worth noting that the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, one of the world’s largest music events, is held right next door in Indio, California, and bands from the Palm Desert Scene are often represented.

Athens, Georgia

Best known as the college rock town responsible for cultural icons like REM and the B-52s, Athens maintained a consistent iconoclastic identity by becoming an indie hotspot. In the past decade, bands like Of Montreal, Neutral Milk Hotel and the rest of the famed Elephant 6 collective gave the town major indie cred. Ever since, Local venues like the 40 Watt Club are a great spot to see these bands and similar less prominent groups on the rise.

East Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville isn’t all country. On the outskirts of the country music capital of the world sits an ideal destination for groups looking to gain footing in the indie world and for fans looking to witness their ascent. The rent is cheap, the venues are diverse and plentiful, and groups like the Kopecky Family Band are almost always playing somewhere close by. The city’s proximity to Nashville doesn’t hurt, either.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The Research Triangle, consisting of Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh, was named for the universities it houses, but the college-centric region has also become a hotbed for local talent and live shows. Its most notable exports include indie folk superstars The Avett Brothers, power pop trio Ben Folds Five and swing revivalists Squirrel Nut Zippers, among an eclectic variety of others. Come here for beautiful college town real estate, stay for basically every kind of music you can imagine.

Berkeley, California

While Boston’s Berklee College of Music educates eager young musicians, the Berkeley on the other side of the country is a bit rougher around the edges. It was at the forefront of punk’s repopularization in the U.S. Bands like Green Day, The Offspring and Sublime emerged from the scene, and the seminal 924 Gilman Street venue where these bands began their journeys remains a hotspot for similar bands today.

Provo, Utah

This small town in Utah has produced two of the most talked about acts of the past year: Imagine Dragons and Neon Trees. When the bands became national chart-topping success stories, the fledging Utah city was revitalized by the increased attention it received. The city began a series of downtown development projects in 2009 and ever since, venues like Velour Live Music Gallery and events like the Summer Rooftop Concert Series have been the highlights of a newly flourishing city that now boasts a thriving music scene.

Olympia, Washington

Any Washington city is going to have a hard time escaping the musical shadow of Seattle, but Olympia’s rich history has helped it carve its own unique identity: it was an important part of the riot grrrl scene in the ‘90s, which produced bands like Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill. Indie rock group Modest Mouse recorded their legendary debut album, This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, in the city. It isn’t just in the past though — to this day the avant-garde music scene brings in more than $88.3 million in revenue annually, Billboard reports.

Richmond, Virginia

Virginia’s capital city has long been home to one of the most active punk rock scenes on the East Coast, featuring myriad venues for hardcore and metal bands to gain exposure. Notable exports that include GWAR and Lamb of God, but the city is full of harder sounding bands waiting for their chance to break. Opportunity exists for artists of a gentler persuasion too, though — singer-songwriter Aimee Mann and neo-soul singer D’Angelo have emerged from the area.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Perhaps Minnesota isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of hip-hop, but Minneapolis has a thriving underground rap scene. This is due to the presence of Rhymesayers Entertainment, Minnesota’s largest hip-hop record label that has seen some of its homegrown talent — most notably Eyedea & Abilities and Atmosphere — achieve national success. But if rap isn’t your thing, rock bands Soul Asylum and The Replacements also hail from Minneapolis, and the Twin Cities area hosts a variety of festivals every year.

Denton, Texas

Austin keeps it weird and its annual hosting of the hugely popular South by Southwest festival has cemented it as the musical center of Texas. But a couple 100 miles north, Denton has been emerging as the heart of Texan independent music for some time. In 2008, Paste Magazine named the city’s music scene the best in the country. Denton has also come up with its own answer to SXSW: 35 Denton, a scrappy music festival that has previously featured bands like The Flaming Lips, Solange Knowles, Reggie Watts and many others. Denton is also home to iconic indie rock band, Midlake.

Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha’s musical identity began as a hub for African-American jazz and blues musicians in the ’20s and ’30s, but today, country-flavored indie rock, known as the “Omaha Sound,” defines the area. Omaha-based Saddle Creek Records was an early proponent of the movement and its roster today includes artists like Cursive, Tokyo Police Club and Conor Oberst (most notably of Bright Eyes), whose brother, Justin, co-founded the label in 1993. The scene remains strong to this day, bolstering the careers of many young folk musicians.

This article originally appeared on Mic.com.