If you like Downtown – and good movies – go see this movie.
Posted by Glenn Gritzner on July 20, 2009
Hello Enthusiasts –
I had today’s blog post all written in my head but then, as they say, life intervened.
So I know you’ve come to expect food and drink recommendations from this blog, with maybe the odd observation about the City thrown in from time to time.
But really, this blog also serves to let people interested in Downtown know about things they should know about, in whatever form.
From the title of this post, you know I’m going to recommend a movie, which I saw yesterday. But why would I be recommending a movie on a blog that has a cocktail glass as its logo? Because this particular movie, aside from being the best movie I’ve seen this year, has a love of Downtown LA as a significant backdrop.
The movie is (500) Days of Summer, starring Joseph Gordon-Leavitt and Zooey Deschanel. Gordon-Leavitt was the younger brother on 3rd Rock from the Sun, but has grown up to be one of the most underrated actors around, who picks great material (if you haven’t seen Brick, put it on your Netflix queue). And if I have to tell you who Zooey Deschanel is or why she’s cool, then go look it up yourself.
The movie is ostensibly a relationship movie about Tom and Summer. But it’s not like most relationship movies. I feel like relationship movies usually fall into two categories: 90% of them follow the “meet cute, faux obstacle gets in the way, resolve obstacle, and live happily ever after.” Then, the other 10% rebel against that, where the couple fights all the time and it ends badly, or with the barest of resolutions. These movies wear their darkness on their sleeve. But this movie does neither. It doesn’t hit a false note, but it’s not “honest” in that brutal, hit-you-over-the-head way. It’s honest, but heartwarming in its own way. It pulls off a very difficult trick that I haven’t seen before.
But that’s not why I’m blogging about it. I’m blogging about it because it was shot all around Downtown LA. And the lead character loves Downtown, in the way that most of us do – not in a mushy way, but in a real-yet-intense way. In one of my favorite little pieces of dialogue, he’s trying to explain to her what he loves (while sitting on a bench overlooking part of the City). The dialogue isn’t exactly this, but goes something like:
Summer: Why do you like it so much up here?
Tom: Because you can imagine the City. See right there? That’s the Continental, LA’s first skycraper, built in 1911. And see that building over there? Built in 1904. (Note: have no idea what the second building is).
Summer: But isn’t that a parking lot right there? And isn’t that another parking lot?
Tom (wistfully): Yeah. I mean, yeah, they are. But … I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. From up here, you can see the fabric of the City. It just has to be knit together.
He lives in a Downtown loft. She lives in the Barclay on Normandie just south of Wilshire (and they make a point of showing you which building it is), and one of the scenes is a party on her rooftop garden overlooking Downtown. I’m almost positive that one scene is filmed inside the Broadway Bar (right, Cedd?) This is stuff you don’t see in movies.
So go see this movie. It feels real and true – which is saying something, considering that it’s got a full blown musical number (it will make you want to download “You Make My Dreams” by Hall & Oates – trust me), split screens, French subtitles in parts, and skips around in time. It’s the kind of movie where about halfway through, you say to yourself: “I’m just happy to be watching this movie right now.” And, it shows Downtown in a way that I, for one, was thrilled to see on the big screen.
If nothing else, this blog continues to surprise you … right?