May 26, 2009

The Favorite Movie Period/Place Meme

What's so great about Pittsburgh circa 1987, anyway?

Believe me, I'm as surprised as you are that I'm attempting to initiate a meme. A year ago I didn't even know what one was (I still only have an idea), and here am I trying to get one going.

It started with the thought I was having while watching Greg Mottola's Adventureland, namely, "What's the point in setting this story in Pittsburgh circa 1987 as opposed to Anytown, USA, circa 2009"? There were things that just didn't seem to jive with the period (i.e., too frequent use of "What's up?" as a greeting), and aside from the fact that Mottola attended Carnegie Mellon in the mid-80's, most of the setting and period dressings felt like a gimmicky strategy to play indie 80's music and have fun with costumes and hairstyles (I mean really, did anybody buy Ryan Reynolds as that character in that setting?). It didn't take away from my enjoyment of that charming film very much, but unlike Cameron Crowe's personal touches on Almost Famous, or Jonathan Levine's on The Wackness, or even Ang Lee's reported obsession over production accuracy in the upcoming Taking Woodstock, the time and place in Adventureland really didn't add much to the meaning, either, in my opinion.

This brings me to the idea for this meme, particularly these questions: What's my favorite cinematic period, anyway, and what movies portray a place that I would love to visit in real life? Essentially, during which movies have I thought, "Wow, I would really love to be there and experience that place at that time"?

You become almost paralyzed considering the possibilities. Of all the movies you've seen set in an almost infinite number of times and places, which one looked the most appealing? Rome in the age of the Roman Empire (Gladiator)? 1990's Los Angeles (Grand Canyon)? 1970's Manhattan (Manhattan)? 1920's Chicago (Chicago)? 2000's Bruges (In Bruges)? 19th-century American West (any Western)? Victorian-age England (numerous possibilities)? 20th-century Europe (numerous possibilities)? 16th-century Mesoamerica (Apocalypto)? Present day? The future (Minority Report, Children of Men, Demolition Man)?

These options are a frozen drop of water on the tip of the iceberg, and I'm laying out a challenge to choose one favorite, or at least a few. You can even list ones that haven't been seen on film yet - or consider the times and places we're headed in these upcoming summer movies: Public Enemies, Year One, Land of the Lost, the aforementioned Taking Woodstock, Inglourious Basterds, Moon, Tetro, and so on and so forth.


1.) Think of a
place (real or fictional) and time (past, present, future) portrayed in a movie (or a few) that you would love to visit.
2.) List the setting, period, applicable movie, and year of the applicable movie's release (for reference).
3.) Explain why, however you'd like (bullet points, list, essay form, screenshots, etc.). If this is a time and place that you have intimate knowledge of, feel free to describe what was done well and what wasn't done well in portraying it.
4.) If possible, list and provide links to any related movies, websites, books, and/or articles that relate to your choice (s).
5.) Modify Rules #1-4 to your liking. And come up with a better name for this meme.
Link back to this Getafilm post in your post, please.
7.) Tag at least five others to participate!

I'll lay this out in the format that I hope it will spread for easiest reading, but you're welcome and encouraged to modify it to your liking if you decide to participate. Also,
I'm putting less thought into my own selection than I hope you will because I want to get this going, but my choice isn't necessarily a lazy one because it's been a favorite of mine for years: Hill Valley, CA, circa 2015.

Place/Setting: Hill Valley, CA
Year/Period: 2015
As Seen In: Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Why: I saw Back to the Future Part II in the theater during the height of my boyhood fixation with awesome cars and cool gadgets. When Marty and Doc dropped in on Hill Valley in 2015, it was like a fantasy land for my imagination. Flying cars! Hover boards! Holographic billboards! Self-drying jackets and self-tying shoes! Personalized home entertainment channels! And to make a good thing better, rapidly hydratable pizzas! I couldn't wait for 2015 to arrive when I walked out of the theater, and now, twenty years later, we're on the verge of realizing this utopia.

But seriously, I think part of the reason I'm fascinated with the future portrayed in movies is because it's a complete unknown. In my optimistic moments, I like to think of what could be instead of what has been, and the future allows for unending possibilities...

Best Aspects of Hill Valley: Incredible technology, instant news, California weather, people speak English, clean and mostly safe streets, Pepsi and Pizza Hut are still around

Worst Aspects of Hill Valley: Incredible surveillance,
ubiquitous advertising, lack of privacy, air traffic, Pepsi and Pizza Hut are still around

Further Reading/Viewing:
* Blade Runner, set in 2019
* Hill Valley 2015 fansite
* 11 Points' "11 Predictions that Back to the Future Part II Got Right", April 2009
* 11 Points' "11 Predictions that Back to the Future Part II Got Wrong", April 2009

In explaining my choice I ended up focusing more on the year (2015) than the setting (Hill Valley). That may not be the case for you - maybe you'll look at place over period, or give both equal love. And actually, if you're a contrarian and you'd like to do your least favorite movie period or place, go for it. I'd have to think about mine a bit, but 18th-century Eastern Europe comes to mind first.

Anyway, before "launching" the meme
, some of the other times and places I would like to visit off the top of my head are: Casablanca circa 1942 (Casablanca); Brooklyn circa 1989 (Do The Right Thing); Endor circa a long time ago (Return of the Jedi - I actually did visit the Redwood Forest a couple years ago and it was indescribable, otherworldly); 20th-century India (Gandhi); 1980's Rio de Janeiro (City of God); Paris circa 2001 (Amélie); Los Angeles throughout the 90's (Falling Down, Boyz in Da Hood, The Big Lebowski); Arabia circa medieval times (Aladdin); the South of France circa 1955 (To Catch a Thief), etc., etc., etc.

See, it's hard to stop, and just think of all the thousands of movies you've all seen that I haven't.

And so, have at it:

Fletch at Blog Cabins
Nayana at The Center Seat
Miranda at Cinematic Passions
Rick at Coosa Creek Cinema
Jason at The Cooler
The Mad Hatter at The Dark of the Matinee
Pat at Doodad Kind of Town
Marilyn at Ferdy on Films
Elgringo at He Shot Cyrus
Piper at Lazy Eye Theatre
T.S. at Screen Savour
RC at Strange Culture
Fox at Tractor Facts
Matt & Co. at Where the Long Tail Ends
Sam & Co. at Wonders in the Dark

I primarily chose these people because I'm pretty certain they've participated in recent memes, and as such they're likely to spread it on to others. At least I hope they do. If they don't I'll take no offense, just as I hope those who weren't listed don't take offense.

This is open to anyone and everyone reading this, whether I know you or not, and especially if it's your first meme! Write a post on your blog, write in the comments section here, whatever you want to do. Thanks for playing and passing it along - I'm really curious to see where people would like to go with a ticket to anytime, anywhere...


  1. Well Sir thanks for tagging us, and I will most assuredly looking at this closely later in the day.

  2. I'm in. Have a couple of possibilities in mind.

  3. Excellent, thanks in advance to both of you for considering it. I'm not sure I could even guess as to where each of you might end up.


    Mmmm hmmm, Danny. I get it.

    That's just the Aquarius coming out in you, you little Minnesota munchkin. All that fast futuristic technology excites their wondrously sharp intellects to no end.

    "BEST ASPECTS OF HILL VALLEY:...Pepsi and Pizza Hut are still around.

    WORST ASPECTS OF HILL VALLEY:...Pepsi and Pizza Hut are still around."

    Hah hah. What a riot. Well, there's nothing like the familiar.

    Thank you for tagging me. That is so very sweet of you.

    And as they say...

    I am done, done AND DONE....

  5. Thanks for the tag. This will mark my big-time return into the blogging community.

  6. Wow, Miranda, I'm floored at how quickly you rocked that out. And 20 selections no less! I need to look them over more closely. And yeah, one more thing I remembered about Hill Valley in 2015 - the 80's Cafe, where you can listen to Michael Jackson and watch Max Headroom to your heart's content.

    Happy to provide some inspiration, Scott. I have feeling I'm going to want to go wherever you're going, as well.

  7. How about:

    VICTORIAN ENGLAND circa 1840-1860 the time where David Lean's two masterworks GREAT EXPECTATIONS and OLIVER TWIST (based on Dickens) are set.

    Favorable: A time when the arts flourished.
    Industrial revolution
    Economic, colonial and industrial
    political reform
    ornate architecture; quaint

    Extreme poverty (downside of Ind.
    Child Labor (factories, mines
    chimney sweeps)
    low percentage of kids attending
    ample prostitution

  8. Mine is up:

  9. I'm in. Hopefully sooner rather than later. A good sign is that I've already started working on it.

    Thanks for the tag, amigo!

  10. Sam, very interesting choice. Miranda and I had some thoughts on such hardscrabble times as she was thinking about her own preferences. It's hard to think about experiencing a place/time full of war, poverty, etc., but at the same time those are often the liveliest of settings. There is potential for change and development, so people aren't really complacently sitting around on their hands. Thanks for the thought - I admit I considered sometime in London but couldn't settle on one.

    Thanks Marilyn and Fletch for giving it a shot!

  11. Hey Daniel!

    I just returned from a business trip, have been offline for the last few days. THis meme looks like fun. I'll have to give it some thought over the weekend.

  12. Thanks, Pat - looking forward to your choice.

  13. We're in. Though I should state that I passed this on to James since I'm a bit swamped at the moment. Hopefully he'll have something up within the next day or two.

  14. Outstanding. These are starting to trickle in as people find time for it, and they've (Marilyn, Miranda, T.S.) been pretty interesting so far. So far everybody with the exception of Sam (above) has landed in the 20th or 21st century.

  15. Great minds think alike, as you can see from Fletch's example. T.S. also has some interesting thoughts on the subject, and I should correct myself in my last comment - he went as far back as 1590s England.

    As a reminder, anybody who wasn't officially "tagged" is highly encouraged to participate. I'm interested in all thoughts but just picked some specific names to get the ball rolling.

  16. I got tagged by Fletch, and here's mine.

  17. I'm on my way, Tommy - glad you took part, and also made a significant improvement on the name of the meme!

  18. My post is up right here.

    Thanks for the fun, Daniel.

  19. The fun is mostly mine, Hokahey, thanks.

  20. Daniel, mine is finally up.


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