Earlier this week we met Tom Beer. Now it’s time to say hello to another Museyon Guide, Liz Brown. In Film + Travel, Liz is your guide to two places — San Francisco and Italy. Join Liz as she discovers the big difference between the two places on the big screen, and get to know her favorite movie moments (plus a little Tina Turner), after the jump…
Name: Liz Brown
Home base: Brooklyn, New York
Day Job: Teaching creative writing at the New School and the ICP/Bard Masters program in Advanced Photographic Studies at the International Center of Photography
Museyon Guide: Last movie you watched?
Liz Brown: The last film I saw was ‘In the Air’ by Liza Johnson, who’s also my girlfriend. This was a screening for the cast that was just held in Portsmouth, Ohio, where the film was shot. The film itself is a portrait of a place—a former steel town in Appalachia, and among other things, it’s about how transformative the local circus school is for the community there. It was really amazing to be in the same space with the cast, all non-actors, while they watched themselves projected on the big screen.
MG: You’ve got two chapters in two different Film + Travel books. What’s your favorite location you discovered while writing your chapters? Anything that really surprised you?
LB: One of the main pleasures of this project was the research, revisiting movies I hadn’t seen in a long time, and there were plenty of things to rediscover or discover for the first time. For example, I hadn’t realized that most of Fellini’s films were shot on set. His movies are so iconic, so specific to a number of landmarks in Rome, and yet many of those landmarks are fabricated. He basically re-created Rome in the Cinecitta studios. Although, the Trevi Fountain scene in ‘La Dolce Vita’, which you’ve got on the cover of the European guide, was actually shot on location.
Conversely, it was also interesting to see how many films set in San Francisco are tours of the actual city in themselves. The plot and the landscape become inextricable—so many man-hunt narratives. There’s a lot of sight-seeing by way of chase scenes. ‘Vertigo’ is probably the most obvious example of that and I know there already are ‘Vertigo’ tours you can go on, but you could also do sight-seeing excursions according to ‘Dirty Harry’, ‘Bullitt’, ‘Zodiac’, and plenty of others.
MG: Describe your dream movie? Where would it be set? Who would star? What genre would it be?
LB: I don’t have a specific movie in mind, but I like a heist plot and if you throw in some musical numbers, I’ll probably be happy.
Also, I miss Teri Garr. I wish she were making movies right now—I know she’s had health problems in recent years. She’s an amazing comic actress—as well as a backup dancer, by the way. I once read how she wished she could play a role like the one that Anjelica Huston had in ‘The Grifters’, and I would love to see that.
This isn’t the one movie of my dreams, but I wish Gus Van Sant would make a film about Laura Albert, the woman who created the fake author JT Leroy, starring Courtney Love.
MG: If you could live inside any movie, what would it be?
LB: ‘The Young Girls of Rochefort‘, the candy-colored world by the sea where Gene Kelly suddenly sweeps you into a dance and Catherine Deneuve and her sister Francoise Dorleac are always breaking into song.
Also, there are two ocean liners I wish I could board: the one that Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe take to “Europe, France,” in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes‘ and the one that Barbara Stanwyck is on when she first fleeces Henry Fonda in ‘The Lady Eve‘.
But my ultimate fantasy is to frequent the night clubs from a whole range of films: the supper club where Anna Mae Wong does a floor show and the Limehouse bar she takes her lover to in’Picadilly‘; the burlesque club where Barbara Stanwyck performs “Drum Boogie” with Gene Krupa in ‘Ball of Fire‘; “Club Silencio” where Rebekah Del Rio lip syncs “Llorando” in ‘Mulholland Dr.‘; Elaine Stritch’s nightclub where Sal Mineo pines for the DJ played by Juliet Prowse in ‘Who Killed Teddy Bear?‘; the Pompeii Club with those amazing Bob Fosse numbers in ‘Sweet Charity‘; the Stork Club where Henry Fonda is playing trombone in the band at the beginning of ‘The Wrong Man‘; the bar where Doris Day and Rock Hudson sing along to “Roly Poly” in ‘Pillow Talk‘; the club Jane Fonda goes to in ‘Klute‘ where Roy Scheider and Candy Darling are hanging out; the roadside place where Buck Henry and Lynn Carlin stop in ‘Taking Off‘ and the Ike and Tina Turner Revue just happens to be performing.