“Starring San Francisco”

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Last week a movie was being filmed across the street in the community garden. At first I was annoyed to see the “no parking” signs along my block, but my anticipation of inconvenience quickly segued to pleasure that some location scout and/or director appreciated my neighborhood as an ideal film location. I could just imagine characters wandering the verdant labyrinth backed by panoramic views of the cityscape. On the day of the shoot I peered from my window trying to see what was going on, but aside from lots of trucks parked, and crew running around, I saw little or nothing. I didn’t even find out the name of the film. Oh, well… I realize I’m less interested in watching the actual making of movies than in seeing the finished product on the screen.

Two books on San Francisco movies have come out relatively recently. (By which I mean since Will Shank and I published Celluloid San Francisco: The Film Lover’s Guide to Bay Area Movie Locations in 2006). Christopher Pollock’s Reel San Francisco Stories: An Annotated Filmography of the Bay Area is a comprehensive listing of more than 600 movies shot in San Francisco, in whole or in part. World Film Locations: San Francisco edited by Scott Jordan Harris, part of the University of Chicago Press’ World Film Locations series, offers iconic images and essays to highlight seven selected San Francisco films.

I am pleased to have been invited by various branches of the San Francisco Public Library to present two film programs in June. “Starring San Francisco” traces the city’s rich history of movie making and “On Location: The Golden Gate Bridge on the Silver Screen” looks specifically at one cultural icon as depicted in dozens of Hollywood movies. Seeking to update my talk I quickly researched recent films, identifying Blue Jasmine, Contagion, La Mission, Milk, Hemingway and Gelhorn, Pursuit of Happyness, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and something called 180. While I’d seen, or at least heard of the others, 180 was completely unfamiliar. Directed by Jayendra, it turned out to be a Bollywood movie largely set in San Francisco and largely incomprehensible. Oh, well.

Now my boyfriend informs me that the new version of Godzilla coming out next month takes place in San Francisco. I watched the trailer and can’t wait to watch the Golden Gate Bridge destroyed, yet again!Image

Here’s a still from The Core (2003)

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