One of the best parts about the pre-trip prepping is that moment when you realize your departure is within grasp and all you can think about is the place you’re headed. Sometimes I jam to the tunes of my destination when I hit that moment. Other times I head to the small screen to watch movies and TV shows that are based in the place I’m headed. There’s no better way to get inspired than to watch a story unfold in a place on whose sidewalks you’ll be walking in no time. With the dominant business being the movie business, it seems obvious that Los Angeles would be one of the most featured cities in films and shows, and it is.
From series premiere to finale, David Duchovny’s charming bad boy Hank Moody takes us all around Venice Beach, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood in a flurry of debaucherous encounters all while trying to win back his only true love, Karen (played by Natasha McElhone). The Moody residence is a graffitied house in Venice with surprisingly sleek interior. From the time his daughter Becca busked on the boardwalk to the father-daughter talks along the canals, Venice is a prominent character in the motley crew of misfits that make up one of my favourite shows (ever).
Set mostly in Downtown L.A., this narrated time-hopping romantic dramedy isn’t your typical Hollywood movie, and thank god for it! Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tom, a greeting card writer that had dreams of becoming an architect. He falls in love with Zooey Deschanel’s Summer (as the title suggests) and in one of my favourite scenes, takes her to his favourite spot. The spot is Angel’s Knoll (a couple of blocks from Pershing Square), where Tom shows Summer why L.A. is prettier than most people think. Hmm… Sounds familiar! Their realistic love story will steal your heart away and also make you appreciate a side of L.A. you’ve never realized existed. Tom: “There’s a lot of beautiful stuff here too though. I don’t know, I wish people would notice it more. If it were me…” Summer: “If it were you what?” Tom: “I don’t know, I’d make them notice.”
And now for my not-so-guilty guilty pleasure! A Lot Like Love is one of those movies that came into my life at a time when the entire plot line resonated completely with my life exactly at that moment. So on that basis, a deep bond was formed, unphased by critics and general lack of pop culture relevance. Ashton Kutcher (Oliver) and Amanda Peet (Emily) are two people with the chemistry of a silly couple that somehow always have the wrong timing. They find themselves in various galleries, apartment buildings (with courtyards! See video below), parks, and restaurants all over the cool & funky Los Feliz, Echo Park, and Silverlake neighbourhoods. Basically, this is not your average Los Angeles! One of my favourite scenes in the movie (which I suspect is a deleted scene) is them strolling through Echo Park, the pretty palm-lined paradise in the middle of the concrete.
Watching these helped me get into the mindset of L.A. and, more importantly, shed some light on some of the hidden-in-plain-sight gems in a city that is often represented one-dimensionally. Moral of the story is that travel inspiration can strike even where destinations serve as backdrop, you just have to be willing to take notice! Other notable shows and movies set in L.A.: I Love You Man – DTLA, Los Feliz, Hollywood Hills, Toluca Lake, Venice, Hancock Park. Pulp Fiction – All over L.A. but most interestingly in Hawthorne (for the Googie architecture). The Big Lebowski – All over L.A. One of my all-time faves.