Five San Franciscans offer up their favorite San Francisco films.
The Pursuit of Happyness
A perfect snapshot of San Francisco. Seeing Will Smith in a BART station circa the film's period brings a special joy to us San Franciscans. The film is somewhat prophetic as, through the entirety of the picture, it's the character's class and not race that poses the conflict between him and the city.
So I Married An Axe Murderer
The single most underrated film of Mike Meyers’ career also happens to feature two of San Francisco's least noted cultural scenes: spoken word and jazz. In So I Married An Axe Murderer, Meyers manages to marry the beginnings of a bohemian (if a bit yuppy) rebirth of cool in the city with some of his best comedy. North Beach comes off quite nicely.
The Princess of Nebraska
This little known (though viewable in its entirety on YouTube) Wayne Wang film tells the story of a Chinese exchange student come to San Francisco by way of Nebraska. Shot DIY with minimal crew and budget, it captures the raw energy of a San Francisco less known outside our city: the emerging generation of young, de-traditionalized Chinese and Chinese-Americans.
I'm not sure whether the San Francisco setting or David Fincher's skill as a filmmaker is more responsible for these films’ inclusion. Regardless, the two San Francisco films of this director are certainly two of the city's best appearances on screen. Zodiac in particular is a two-dimensional, light-and-sound time capsule of Bay Area history: the pairing of Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" with the construction of the Transamerica Pyramid in time lapse photography is but one of Fincher's spot-on odes to the city.
40 Days, 40 Nights
Guilty pleasure? Perhaps!? Still, this Josh Hartnett flick nails so many details just right: public transit, Laundromat culture, the new media industry, Victorian interiors, bay windows and, most importantly, the pleasure of walking our city. Not bad for a broad romantic comedy.