Wednesday, June 22, 2011

BLOG: Regional film watching

Joshua Ligairi » 06.22.11 »

It wouldn't surprise me if I'm alone here, but, just as I enjoy sampling regional cuisine when traveling, I also really enjoy watching films set in an area where I am visiting. Like, a lot.

Not everyone sees the charm in this. I've been asked why I'd want to stay inside and watch a movie about a place when you can actually go out and see a place? It's a good question, but it misses the point. I'm always up for a local outdoor adventure. In fact, my watching-a-movie-on-location obsession has much to do with my majorly-geekish activity of movie-location-sight-seeing. I love going out and finding those cinematic landmarks. But, actually viewing the films in the location has an extra immersive quality on top of it. In New York City? Got to watch me some Woody Allen films. In Spain? I may undertake an entire Almodovar marathon. Riding a train? I'll probably have Murder on the Orient Express on my iPod. Seriously.

Those are broad stokes, of course, but I get down to specifics too. For instance, as tonal preparation before leaving on my recent trip to Alaska, I watched The Edge, Into the Wild, Grizzly Man, Insomnia, and 30 Days of Night. There was also the time some friends and I took a TV deep into the woods (with a 100 yards of extension cord) and watched the Blair Witch Project in the forrest in the middle of the night. Where else would you want to see that movie for the first time?

So, now I'm on an extended stay in San Francisco and trying to sample from movies set here, but because I am in a strange land without my own stellarly-curated DVD collection, I'm relying solely on Netflix Streaming to get me through.

Big mistake. Huge disappointment.

Come on, Netflix! Are you kidding me? No streaming for Zodiac, Vertigo, Bullitt, Maltese Falcon, A View to a Kill, The Rock, Escape From Alcatraz, Milk, The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Birds, Dirty Harry, Dark Passage, What's Up Doc ?, So I Married An Axe Murderer or even Funny People (which is stretching anyway because it just has a brief aside in Sausalito)! I've tried to get through The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill twice without any luck. I will give you credit for The Conversation, Netflix, and I will watch it tonight, but you need to up your game! They've overlooked so many classics, it is sickening.

I'm sure this (likely) piece of crap will be available soon, however:

I realize that this is a pretty weird practice, but I can't be totally alone on this. I think most people watch movies from the archive depending on their mood. If anyone else enjoys this slight eccentricity, or has one of their own, please let me know. Oh, and if anyone out there has any watch-worthy Bay Area suggestions (that Netflix is streaming), I'm all ears. I still have a few days.

A little PS: I was walking past Fisherman's Warf to catch the Muni today and I walked right past the Fog City Diner, featured in the "being electrocuted" scene from So I Married an Axe Murderer. I had no idea it was a real place. In fact, I would have bet cash money that was a set because I'd never seen anything like it in San Francisco...until today.

Update » Rise of the Planet of the Apes was, shockingly, not a "piece of crap." It's actually a pretty decent film and was quite a fun viewing experience. I'd happily watch it anytime I'm in San Francisco (though I still prefer Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home for my SFO sci-fi fix).