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US readers: Is there a good film about your city or state?
July 15, 2012 9:44 AM   Subscribe

US readers: Is there a good film about your city or state?

Lately I've been watching Stephen Fry in America, in which the polymath visits every state within six episodes, six hours. As you might expect its a bit of a whistle stop tour, some states get little more than a few minutes and he drives right through Dellaware and Maryland without stopping.

But it has this fellow Britisher even more interested in landscape/cityscape of the big country especially those parts which don't usually appear and one of the ways to do that would be through the magic of film. There are "categories" on the Wikipedia (here's Minnesota) but that's no substitute for personal recommendation.

So what are the best films which have been made about your state or city? Extra marks if they were actually filmed there, with further "likes" for history lessons. Any genre and any format, fictional or documentary.

I might not be able to afford to come to the states yet, but perhaps this way I'll at least be able to get a taste of its four corners.
posted by feelinglistless to Media & Arts (121 answers total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think Slacker is considered the definitive Austin, Texas film. So far.
posted by pantarei70 at 9:48 AM on July 15, 2012


For a taste of the Boston, MA area, I'd suggest:

The Fighter
The Town
Monument Ave.
Gone, Baby Gone
The Departed
Next Stop, Wonderland
Good Will Hunting
posted by kinetic at 9:54 AM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hoosiers for small town Indiana. Or Breaking Away.
posted by geegollygosh at 9:57 AM on July 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


I hesitate to call these "good" movies, but Garden State and Mallrats did a pretty good job of capturing NJ suburban culture. The Deer Hunter (which is a really good movie) contains quite possibly the definitive portrayal of immigrant culture of western Pennsylvania which is huge out there but doesn't really get much attention in popular culture (as in, most people don't realize that Western PA has a distinct culture of factory-working Slavic immigrants, and this is the culture that Andy Warhol came from).
posted by deanc at 9:57 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


New York: kind of a no brainer. There are piles and piles of films about New York City, many of which give a perfectly good taste of what the city is like. As for the rest of the state, to be honest, I felt like Fry gave it plenty of attention in the documentary. In fact it sort of amazed me that he spent a solid 15 minutes in the Adirondacks, and then didn't even stop in Maryland. What?

Some New York movies I love are Annie Hall and Manhattan, All That Jazz (actually about the inner workings of Broadway, but that's definitely New York), Do The Right Thing, The Professional, and Kids. Going through Netflix and Wikipedia it occurs to me that I actually like very few movies about New York in the 2000's and 2010's, which is weird because those are the decades that I've lived here. And worked in the film industry. So you'd think. But no.

Louisiana: I'm incredibly excited to see Beasts of the Southern Wild, which is slowly making the art house rounds. Not sure when it'll go international, though. For movies that are actually available to you, I'd say Dead Man Walking, Interview With The Vampire (for antebellum and Old New Orleans romanticalness), and Steel Magnolias.
posted by Sara C. at 9:59 AM on July 15, 2012


For Chicago I'm pretty sure the standard bearer is still Ferris Bueller's Day Off. But there are lots of others that are lovely for seeing Chicago's streets.

Only The Lonely, The Fugitive and High Fidelity.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:02 AM on July 15, 2012


The Straight Story is both a really fun, worth-watching film, and to my mind a very touching portrayal of the people and scenery of rural Iowa. It's based on the true story of the elderly Alvin Straight's 240-mile trip to see his dying brother, on a John Deere lawn tractor.
posted by drlith at 10:03 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


And for Albuquerque one of my favorites is Sunshine Cleaning. Bonus points for the lovely Emily Blunt.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:04 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Despite the name, Fargo is not representative of the city.
posted by Silvertree at 10:07 AM on July 15, 2012


A River Runs Through It is set in Montana, but I think it is generally one of the best movies about the American West--the real American West--that I've ever seen.
posted by colfax at 10:07 AM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Representing Arizona:

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (much of the movie, including the flashbacks, takes place in Tucson)

Raising Arizona (the Coen brothers really just get the Southwest and its people)
posted by hermitosis at 10:08 AM on July 15, 2012


July '64

Tells the story of race riots in Rochester NY. Interestingly, the economic disparities that existed at the time exist again now in Rochester.
posted by vitabellosi at 10:10 AM on July 15, 2012


not a movie, but for the rust-belt midwest: Roseanne.
posted by katieanne at 10:18 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chicago:

Ferris Bueller's Day Off - privileged suburban teens come into the city for a day trip. A lot of John Hughes' teen movies were set in the 'burbs.
The Blues Brothers - hardly a good representation of what soul and blues music were like in Chicago, but lots of great location shots.
The documentary Cheat You Fair is a much better look at the Maxwell Street market and the music that came from it.
Hoop Dreams - about two promising high school basketball players. It's one of the best documentaries out there.
High Fidelity did a good job of capturing the feel of living in the hip neighborhood of Wicker Park in the 90s.
Barbershop - a day in the life on the South Side
posted by hydrophonic at 10:21 AM on July 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Good Will Hunting is the most authentic movie I've seen about Boston and Cambridge. The judge at the trial, with his Boston accent, is absolutely perfect.
posted by Melismata at 10:21 AM on July 15, 2012


(Oh, and it's definitely filmed there.)
posted by Melismata at 10:24 AM on July 15, 2012


Despite the fact it is supposed to be set in California, large portions of There Will Be Blood are set in West Texas (specifically, outside Marfa, TX), and I think the movie is very evocative both in terms of scenery and political themes.
posted by muddgirl at 10:25 AM on July 15, 2012


Sorry, not "set in West Texas", but "filmed in West Texas."
posted by muddgirl at 10:25 AM on July 15, 2012


American Movie is a documentary about two hapless working-class filmmakers from the suburbs of Milwaukee. You definitely get a feel for the Wisconsin weather and the accents.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:30 AM on July 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Silvertree: "Despite the name, Fargo is not representative of the city"

But it is a great, if exaggerated, take on Minnesota.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:33 AM on July 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fargo isn't entirely accurate in terms of geography but it captures a lot about the upper Midwest. My partner remembers the giant Paul Bunyan statue from his childhood (although I get the impression that it isn't actually where it's placed in the movie).

The most evocative and accurate NYC movie is, without a doubt, Midnight Cowboy.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:35 AM on July 15, 2012


The Rocky movies do a not-horrible job of capturing working-class Philadelphia.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:35 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a longtime lurker, this is the first time I've actually had a response worth posting.

Map of Films that Represent Each US State
posted by Fastest Pokemon at 10:35 AM on July 15, 2012 [28 favorites]


I've been all over the southeast, and my favorites are:

My Cousin Vinny is set in Alabama, but filmed in Georgia, but not too much of a difference. It's a comedy, but it does give a good representation of the (stereotyped) culture clash between the rural South and the North. It's just a fun movie all round, and it will help in understanding the extreme examples of how these culture differences are viewed, especially if you aren't from the US.

Bull Durham set in North Carolina is fairly accurate of a larger city in the south and sports, but it's a little dated.

I haven't seen it yet, but ATL is supposed to be about the city of Atlanta, GA and I've heard it does a decent job of making the city a character. I wish I could speak more to it, but it may be one to check out.

Other great movies about the southeast are about either the Civil War or Civil Rights. I'm unsure if you are interested in these important parts of history, but if so, I'd recommend The Help and Ken Burns The Civil War.
posted by neveroddoreven at 10:36 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bottle Rocket and Office Space are the two that come to mind for Dallas and its suburbs and outlying areas. They were both shot in the area I think. The scene in Office Space where the guys walk to lunch by crossing a drainage ditch to the strip mall was just perfect.
posted by MadamM at 10:38 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I live in California now and that's too easy. But for Texas, John Sayles' film Lone Star is a fantastic depiction of small town Texas and relationships along the Mexican border.
posted by Nelson at 10:38 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okie Noodling (documentary) for small-town Oklahoma. Grapes of Wrath for historical context (though the book is better.)
posted by Brittanie at 10:38 AM on July 15, 2012


I've only ever watched the beginning, but Misery captures exactly what it's like to drive in the mountains of Colorado in the winter. It's a horror movie, so. Here's a YouTube clip.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:39 AM on July 15, 2012


I think documentaries would be a great source to see what real life is like in different places. I currently live in St. Louis, Missouri, but here are a few from different cities that I would very highly recommend:

Can Mr Smith Get To Washington Anymore? is a small documentary about a local politician. It's a good look at normal people in St. Louis. Jeff later went to prison.

Bill Cunningham New York is a great look at the NY Times fashion photographer - but also a look at lots of normal people in the city.

The Parking Lot Movie is about the people who work at a unique parking lot in Virginia.

Pressure Cooker is a doc about students in a lower income area of Philadelphia, competing in a cooking competition.
posted by kdern at 10:40 AM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


More Chicago:

Medium Cool - shot entirely on location in Chicago, partially in the middle of the 1968 Democratic Convention protests.
Cooley High is set in and around an actual Chicago high school and is loads of fun.
Tom Palazzolo, an experimental filmmaker and documentarian who started working in the '60s, made some extraordinary local-themed short pieces.
...maybe Mickey One too, though I don't remember how Chicago-y it is (this is the classic Chicago image from it, though).

Another Earth was shot in New Haven and Hamden, CT and captures the feeling of the place well.
posted by bubukaba at 10:41 AM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Clerks is more like what suburban New Jersey can feel like than Mallrats - that was a little too zany.
posted by graymouser at 10:41 AM on July 15, 2012


+1 for Hoop Dreams.
posted by kdern at 10:42 AM on July 15, 2012


City Confidential is an excellent true crime TV series that gives great historical and cultural overviews of each town featured. It still airs on the Biography Channel in the US; not sure what your UK options are.
posted by puritycontrol at 10:44 AM on July 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


For Florida I'd go with Sunshine State partly for visuals and partly for some of the development issues it brings up, The Truman Show for its satirical/nightmarish vision of planned communities, Key Largo and Edward Scissorhands mostly for background/visuals, and if you're interested in quirky small towns there's always Vernon, Florida.
posted by johnofjack at 10:44 AM on July 15, 2012


More movies about the West: I like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid because it was filmed in the Southwest and it gets the light right.

Brokeback Mountain is an amazing movie for lots of reasons, but it's also interesting for a look at the small dusty towns and what it means to be a cowboy in the (relatively) modern West.
posted by colfax at 10:46 AM on July 15, 2012


More ideas, not as good as my ideas above:

Milk - about Harvey Milk, a pioneering gay politician in San Francisco.

The Help - about the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi.
posted by kdern at 10:47 AM on July 15, 2012


Oh! And The Wire. It's a TV series, but it's as good as a movie. It's the most realistic crime drama I've ever seen... about crime, drugs, education and politics in Baltimore, Maryland (but probably similar in many mid-sized cities).
posted by kdern at 10:49 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Map of Films that Represent Each US State

That's pretty neat, but why is Wayne's World in Delaware instead of Aurora, Illinois?

Cleveland, Ohio: American Splendor (although anyone from there will say A Christmas Story).
posted by hydrophonic at 10:55 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Escanaba in the Moonlight" for Michigan.
posted by HuronBob at 10:59 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Re NYC: The 25th Hour is a pretty decent depiction. As is The Yards.
posted by dfriedman at 11:04 AM on July 15, 2012


Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (the book or movie) captures one aspect of Savannah, GA, but I wouldn't say it's representative of the entire population.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:06 AM on July 15, 2012


Cold Souls is another good NY movie.
posted by dfriedman at 11:07 AM on July 15, 2012


I went to high school in the Chicago suburbs and "Mean Girls" does a really good job of capturing that world. Tina Fey caught a lot of little details, like how all the schools have directional names.

Most of John Hughes's films have a very (north) suburban Chicago sensibility and many were filmed on location in the city and suburbs.

If TV is okay, "Roseanne" is a fairly realistic depiction of blue collar life in a small Illinois city in the 80s. My current favorite Chicago show is "Happy Endings," where their madcap misadventures are always set nicely against very Chicago background.

In my head, all of rural western Canada is like the TV show Heartland and NOBODY TELL ME ANY DIFFERENTLY, okay?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:09 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Summer of Sam for late 70s NYC.
posted by elizardbits at 11:13 AM on July 15, 2012


Chump Change for Milwaukee.
posted by drezdn at 11:14 AM on July 15, 2012


Oh, for a historical movie -- check out "Knute Rockne, All American," which is fascinating not just for its on-site filming in Chicago and Indiana (and I think Knute spends a summer working at Cedar Point, too), but for its depiction of race relations and immigration, its depiction of the early days of college football, a sort-of primer on how Americans end up so attached to their colleges ... and it stars a youthful Ronald Reagan. It's a fascinating and weird little piece of Americana.

(And 100% Hoosiers, what a great movie. I think I have to go watch it now.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:17 AM on July 15, 2012


Killer of Sheep for Watts, Los Angeles in the 70s.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:23 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


State and Main for a bigtime-ish Vermont movie (Mamet lives in Rural VT) as well as the sort of mockumentary Man With A Plan. Jay Craven has done some terrific movies including one called A Stranger in the Kingdom [isolated 50s town gets a new minister who is black] and Where the Rivers Flow North [sort of a Northfork before Northfork]. I also like Super Troopers but it might nit be your thing. Mister Deeds goes to Town is the Vermontiest movie I haven't seen.
posted by jessamyn at 11:25 AM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I dunno if it's a good movie, haven't never seen it, but the reviews are mixed... Here's a movie made by locals, about a local boogeyman (The Zodiac Killer), filmed locally, The Zodiac. and a slightly better reviewed version a year later (not shot locally) Zodiac.
posted by patheral at 11:27 AM on July 15, 2012


It's a teevee show and not a film, but Terriers feels a great deal like San Diego life.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:37 AM on July 15, 2012


@hydrophonic

Wayne's World is there for Delaware because of the green screen scene:

"Imagine being magically whisked away to Delaware... Hi, I'm in Delaware."

@OP

Another movie, that's in that map, for the Southeast is definitely O Brother, Where art thou. That's one of my favorite movies, and in rereading your post, something you might like for a more historical picture of the South. It's really just a GREAT movie.
posted by neveroddoreven at 11:43 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


For New Jersey I think I would recommend The Station Agent over Garden State. For Maine you can try The Whales of August (slow moving but authentic landscape filmed on an Cliff Island in Maine) and Islander.
posted by gudrun at 11:48 AM on July 15, 2012


Frozen River was filmed near where I live in far upstate New York near the Canadian border. It gives a suitably bleak representation of some aspects of the area.
posted by merocet at 11:51 AM on July 15, 2012


The film adaptation of the Ken Kesey masterpiece Sometimes a Great Notion is a great movie for the Oregon experience.
posted by vozworth at 11:57 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Portland Oregon- Cold Weather and Old Joy.
posted by furnace.heart at 12:04 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Ice Storm captured the look and feel of the US East Coast suburban landscape of my childhood better than any other movie I know. It's set in the Connecticut suburbs of NYC, but works also for the suburbs west of Boston or the Maryland suburbs of DC, where I grew up. I don't know if you consider "East Coast suburbia" a "place" or not, but I think Greenwich CT, Bethesda MD, and Belmont MA have a lot more to do with each other than they have to do with New York City, Washington DC, and Boston.
posted by escabeche at 12:05 PM on July 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think the 2000 film Traffic does a decent job showing the San Diego/Tijuana relationship with regard to the war on drugs.

It's a teevee show and not a film, but Terriers feels a great deal like San Diego life.

I loved Terriers and thought it captured Ocean Beach pretty well, and when they went to rich people's places in La Jolla or Del Mar it was accurate too.

(also: the most famous movie set in San Diego, Anchorman, was filmed in Los Angeles mostly). After announcing Anchorman 2, Will Ferrel was spotted around town so maybe there will more shot here)

As mentioned above, Slacker captures a part of Austin so well.

I also think No Country for Old Men (even though a lot is shot in New Mexico) and the South Texas/North Mexico area. The Tommy Lee Jones-directed "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" also does a good job of showing life along the Texas/Mexico border out around Big Bend.

Bottle Rocket and Office Space are the two that come to mind for Dallas and its suburbs and outlying areas. They were both shot in the area I think. The scene in Office Space where the guys walk to lunch by crossing a drainage ditch to the strip mall was just perfect.

Almost all of Office Space was shot in Austin. I was there in a job in tech in offices a few blocks from where a lot of it was shot. The locations could be confused for the Metroplex, Houston, Phoenix, San Jose, Orange County, CA or parts of San Diego where there's lots of tech companies in those suburban commercial office spaces.
posted by birdherder at 12:08 PM on July 15, 2012


Dazed and Confused was set, and shot, in and around Austin. Can't speak to the accuracy really, because I wasn't around for that time period, but it's Linklater again (who did Slackers, which is considered pretty definitively early-90s Austin.)
posted by restless_nomad at 12:15 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The TV show Justified does a decent job, in my opinion, of giving the flavor of Kentucky and the rural south in general. Yes, it's a bit amped up, but I'm from Alabama and I appreciate the way it shows that even rural people today do have connections with the outside world, and how the density of accents and isolation vary widely based on your background.

There was a laugh-out-loud moment for me in one episode where a crook goes into a hardware store in a small town and asks for a ski mask to pull a job in. The hayseed at the counter says "Ski Mask? This is Kentucky. We don't have ski masks. Have you tried eBay?"
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:23 PM on July 15, 2012


"Stephen Fry's America" is a spiritual successor to "Alistair Cooke's America." (First aired 1972-3, so filmed about 1970.) When Cooke was a young man going to Yale University, he had a scholarship with an unusual requirement for the Englishman: during the summer, he couldn't go home, but must buy a car, and explore the USA. He stayed here ever since. It's a very good doco.

Additionally, Cooke contributed his weekly radio dispatch to the Beeb, "Letter from America" for some 5 decades until his passing, over 2800 "letters." Even if you wanted to, I don't think the BBC has all available to listen to, but there's a small sampling at that link.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:26 PM on July 15, 2012


> Bull Durham set in North Carolina is fairly accurate of a larger city in the south and sports, but it's a little dated.

I re-watched this film a couple of weeks ago and I was surprised how little the physical feel of the place had changed when comparing Durham now to the Durham in the movie. Yes, the Bulls now play in the new stadium and not the one shown in the movie, but the bits of Durham shown were readily recognizable. What felt different were the people - the Durhamites shown in Bull Durham seem very old-fashioned compared to the Durhamites I see now.
posted by research monkey at 12:31 PM on July 15, 2012


Matewan is a pretty good film about West Virginia, though only really representative of the southern part of the state. There's also a lovely sequence shot in West Virginia in the Bill Withers documentary, Still Bill.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 12:32 PM on July 15, 2012


Many films are set in my current hometown of Seattle, but few of them are filmed here. The notable exceptions include "Singles," which did a decent job of capturing the look of the city. Locals would point out that one character is working on a city-wide light-rail transportation system in that movie, released in 1992. It came to fruition a mere 18 years later, and is still a single leg, largely unused by locals from downtown to Lake Union, just above downtown.

Sleepless in Seattle was also set, in part, on the same Lake Union, but carried out a few serious abuses of geography. The TV Show Grey's Anatomy doesn't even try hard; on the occasions they've flown a castmember up to Seattle for some beauty-pass exteriors in Seattle, they set t hem driving in the wrong direction to go anywhere. I can only speak for the first 2 seasons or so, though. The Doco "Battle in Seattle" would've been confined to a few blocks in north downtown. "10 Things I Hate About You," though largely filmed at Stadium HS in Tacoma, south of Seattle, featured plenty of Seattle. Ditto "Say Anything." (Still mostly filmed in CA.) In both cases, the directors tried to get Seattle's quirks and local flavor-- did okay at that. Scenes set and filmed behind a 7-Eleven... I guess it doesn't matter what state you're in.

1963's "It Happened at the World's Fair," is a semi-doc set at the '62 World's Fair here in Seattle. It stars Elvis Presley, and they explore the fairgrounds, which is what is now "Seattle Center," and urban campus of museums, the Space Needle, a monorail terminal (that heads downtown-- This is best seen in Stallone's "Assassins" in which they uses signs to indicate that it's a major monorail system, not that Stallone is taking a round-trip train-ride), a some music stages, fountains, gathering places of all sorts.

Along those lines is this: Century 21 Calling, a some propaganda filmed by Bell Labs at the same world's fair, primarily in the US Science Pavilion (now the Pacific Science Center). Check out the amazing technologies they offer. Except now, the computer is in your pocket.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:39 PM on July 15, 2012


Seconding "Sometimes a Great Notion".

"Dazed and Confused" is a perfect example of the America of my youth that simply doesn't exist anymore.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:39 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The recent movie Bernie captures small town Texas very well. I am usually somewhat offended (or amused) by Hollywood's version of a Texas accent, but in this case they actually used the townspeople for a lot of the movie, and of course Matthew McConaughey is from Texas. Living in a small Texas town, I thought it was spot on. And it's another Linklater Texas movie. The author of the original story is from a town near where I live.
posted by tamitang at 12:44 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


A few more good Atlanta movies, all of which depict Southern African-American culture, which I can't imagine most folks in the UK are familiar with:
Drumline
Stomp the Yard
Lottery Ticket

An underappreciated little movie that depicts the rural white South of my North Carolina childhood is Junebug. When he sings "Softly and Tenderly" my heart breaks every single time I watch the movie.
posted by hydropsyche at 12:53 PM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was surprised at how well A Day Without A Mexican captured the divide in California between Mexicans and the relatively-wealthy people they work for. Not a great movie, but it paints a mostly-accurate picture, IMHO.

Also, the TV show Arrested Development, in an exaggerated way, captures a lot of my impressions of Southern California as a sometimes visitor. Not necessarily the Bluths and their story, but the sheen of wealth, landmarks like the Queen Mary, and that whackadoodle "Living Masterpiece" thing. Those are all real.
posted by bendy at 1:05 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Friday Night Lights (the show) is an accurate and excellent portrayal of small town life in the South, but with obvious specifics to central Texas. Even though the movie was based on the Permian/Odessa area (I'd call it west Texas), the show was clearly a fictionalized town somewhere closer to Austin.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 1:18 PM on July 15, 2012


Wow, thanks everyone, that's splendid and thanks for the Alistair Cooke's America reminder in the midst of everything and as I'd hoped loads of films I wasn't aware of.

I'll go through and compile a state by state list when I have a moment.

Also makes me wonder what I'd recommend for my home town of Liverpool (outside of a hundred documentaries about The Beatles). My Kingdom, the Lear adaptation has an excellent sense of location and has a great scene set in Liverpool Cathedral. Also Alex Cox's The Revenger's Tragedy. Letter to Brezhnev obviously. Distant Voices, Still Lives and most anything my Terence Davies, especially Of Time and the City. Oh and the magic realist Under the Mud which makes a rare visit to the suburbs, Speke and Garston.

The list of films shot in Liverpool but set elsewhere is looong. The establishing shot of Moscow at the beginning of The Hunt For Red October is St George's Hall. The Albert Dock has been used in everything from The Dark Knight to Captain America to Sherlock Holmes.
posted by feelinglistless at 1:36 PM on July 15, 2012


Winter's Bone really nails the impoverished Missouri Ozark hills on the outskirts of where I grew up. The was filmed on location in Hollister and Springfield, my hometown. But more than really capturing the stark hills and isolation of Southern Missouri, the film just nails the aggressive 'Never ask for what ought to be offered' guess culture mentality of the locals.
posted by joechip at 1:40 PM on July 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Trona does an excellent job of portraying the desolation of one of California's (even the continent's) most bizarre locales.

Bagdad Cafe was shot about 100 miles away in the same county but offers a more positive look at life in the Mojave Desert.
posted by buggzzee23 at 2:01 PM on July 15, 2012


I felt like Big Eden really embraced the Montana I grew up in.

Clay Pigeons is very eastern Montana even though it wasn't filmed there.

These both take place in modern times unlike A River Runs Through It. Even though that and Big Eden were filmed in the same gorgeous place.
posted by Duffington at 2:10 PM on July 15, 2012


"Sweet Home Alabama".

I grew up in Georgia, on the Alabama border. The green landscape and a certain aspect of Southern culture is captured fairly well by this movie. Bonus points in my book: I also like it for wrestling with practical questions of modern feminism and coming up with a humane answer.
posted by Michele in California at 2:33 PM on July 15, 2012


"LA Story"
posted by np312 at 4:01 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Smoke Signals starts in the Coeur D'Alene Indian Reservation in Idaho, and the two main characters go on a road trip to Phoenix, Arizona. You can watch the whole thing on Vimeo.
posted by hydrophonic at 4:01 PM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sex, Lies, and Videotape. Not really "about" Baton Rouge, Louisiana, (my hometown) per se, but Soderbergh did spend some formative years there, and much (all?) of it is shot on location. A pretty good movie in its own right, too.
posted by slenderloris at 4:06 PM on July 15, 2012


Yeah, Sex, Lies, and Videotape is so Baton Rouge. It's weird - I don't think anyone who hasn't spent time there would notice it, but oh, man. Especially the character Andie McDowell plays; she's so reminiscent of a Certain Type of southern woman that tends to pop up a lot in Central/non-Cajun Louisiana.
posted by Sara C. at 4:17 PM on July 15, 2012


Boyz n the Hood for what immediately preceded the LA riots.

Short Cuts for working class LA.
posted by brujita at 5:18 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, New Hampshire movies are few and far between. I've never seen On Golden Pond, but that's the one that people typically think of. Thornton Wilder's play "Our Town," which has been filmed for Masterpiece Theater, captures small-town New Hampshire at the turn of the 20th century, but I think it's got some resonance with small-town New Hampshire today. The Town and The Departed are my favorite Boston film.

In a similar small town vein, Take Shelter is a pretty compelling depiction of rural Ohio (and, I'd assume, rural communities around the midwest). For added fun, watch it as an allegory about the US healthcare system.

Nthing Winter's Bone. Again, if TV shows are acceptable, check out Treme, which is about post-Katrina New Orleans and by the same director (and many of the same actors) as the Wire.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:57 PM on July 15, 2012


Friday Night Lights (the show) is an accurate and excellent portrayal of small town life in the South, but with obvious specifics to central Texas. Even though the movie was based on the Permian/Odessa area (I'd call it west Texas), the show was clearly a fictionalized town somewhere closer to Austin.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 3:18 PM on July 15
I didn't watch much of the show but I saw many locations very clearly shot in Austin, and if I recall correctly, I'd heard that it was mostly all shot here.

Which doesn't make it a definitive movie about Austin, just that it has some of the feel.

Slacker, that was a point in time, but that time is pretty far in the past now, Austin quite a different city in the intervening. Slacker was and is fun, just not current.
posted by dancestoblue at 6:04 PM on July 15, 2012


Can't speak to the accuracy really, because I wasn't around for that time period

It's dead-on scary accurate. It's like he followed us around with cameras back in '78.

Dancer, Texas Pop. 81 is another coming-of-age movie, set in the Texas Outback, filmed mostly around Fort Davis. It's stunningly beautiful in places, and is a pretty good story, too.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:41 PM on July 15, 2012


This might sound ridiculous, but ignoring the gang stuff, the pedestrian daily life bits of The Sopranos are the most encompassing and accurate depiction of the New Jersey I grew up in I've seen in any kind of fiction, and it was a great show.
posted by jeb at 6:51 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Smoke Signals starts in the Coeur D'Alene Indian Reservation in Idaho, and the two main characters go on a road trip to Phoenix, Arizona. You can watch the whole thing on Vimeo.

Excellent recommendation. Try pairing it with another Native 'road movie' from about a decade earlier, Pow Wow Highway.
posted by gimonca at 6:59 PM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Filmed in West Texas (mostly Marfa) and in New Mexico, No Country For Old Men just nails that piece of Texas, that Marfa/Ft. Davis/Alpine triangle of towns, and the country thereabouts. They shot some in New Mexico to save money, but all of the establishing location shots were in that part of Texas. It's beautiful country, wide-open and mountains scattered about but not pretty like you think of Colorado, snow-capped with pines and whatnot, these are dry and earth-lookiing and just vast as hell -- it's a huge country there, you can see for miles and miles. It's beautiful but maybe not pretty, Georgia O'Keefe saw it but Bob Ross maybe would not have. I think it captured the people, too, late 70s early 80s small-town, West Texas people, though I've not lived there so can't truly say; I have I've been in Texas since 1977 and it felt right to me, it rang true.

Urban Cowboy was a place and time, people think Houston but nope, it's the small oil-refinery towns south of Houston -- Pasadena, South Houston, Deer Park (which isn't deer-like or park-like), La Porte -- blue-collar towns, mobile homes and small one-floor two and three bedroom houses, white people and Mexican people, no black people, no Asians. The movie showed it pretty well, got a good sense of it. Much of the film -- I guess most of it -- was centered around Gilley's nightclub, and they didn't get that quite just right, showed it to be less fun that it was, sortof more cleaned-up, less rowdy and raucous -- it was just so much fun, truly a place in time, gone now, no reason to go slumming south anymore. The best characterization in that flick was Scott Glenn, played a white ex-con -- he was exactly right, he was perfectly cast, he lit his eyes with the danger that those guys have, he radiated it, a great performance.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:02 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Across Indiana was a laid back, quirky travel show about off beat or interesting places/people in Indiana. It was a surprise hit on PBS. It won't give you an idea of main stream Indiana but you'll find out the out of the way spots that usually only the locals know about.

http://www.wfyi.org/acrossIndiana/
posted by stray thoughts at 7:42 PM on July 15, 2012


Twister for Oklahoma. Tornado coverage can monopolize all local TV broadcasts for the entire evening in the spring.
posted by Snerd at 7:48 PM on July 15, 2012


Nobody's Fool is a fine film that accurately depicts Upstate New York.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:54 PM on July 15, 2012


Milk from 2008, and the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk from 1984 together give a really solid portrait of San Francisco's Castro district and city hall in the late 70's.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:35 PM on July 15, 2012


SLC Punk! for Salt Lake City. Not a documentary, but a friend said it perfectly described his high school experience.
posted by baho at 8:41 PM on July 15, 2012


I didn't watch much of the show but I saw many locations very clearly shot in Austin, and if I recall correctly, I'd heard that it was mostly all shot here.

Which doesn't make it a definitive movie about Austin, just that it has some of the feel.

Slacker, that was a point in time, but that time is pretty far in the past now, Austin quite a different city in the intervening. Slacker was and is fun, just not current.
- @dancestoblue

Exactly. The premise is that Dillon is a town within an short driving distance from Austin. The stadiums for East and "west" Dillion was one stadium in the burbs of Austin (out towards the airport if I remember correctly). Pretty much everything that wasn't a well-known setting (The Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, for example) was shot in and around Austin.

To me, that's what nailed it for being about a small town in Texas....because, well,...it was.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 9:09 PM on July 15, 2012


I was also going to say Winter's Bone, but I don't know enough about its environment to make that call. It was such a stark and powerful movie.
posted by bendy at 12:36 AM on July 16, 2012


Humboldt County.
posted by fshgrl at 1:31 AM on July 16, 2012


A strong second for Take Shelter (mentioned above by ChuraChura), set & mostly filmed in Elyria, Ohio. A really excellent view of, well, not so much "rural" Ohio, but the parts of Ohio - and there are a lot of them - that are an often uneasy melange of suburb/small town/rural.

And I agree with ChuraChura that places like this are all over the Midwest - western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, southern Michigan, southern Wisconsin, southern Minnesota, Iowa, northern Missouri.

If you're open to TV shows, I think Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations does a good job of capturing the flavor (Ha! . . . . sorry, couldn't resist . . .) of the U.S. places he visits.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:25 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


For Texas, you want the David Byrne movie True Stories, and the tv show King of the Hill.

True Stories captured the feel of life in Texas, but it's in the small details. Things like the fact that so many buildings (even in the middle of big cities) are made of corrugated aluminum, rather than bricks or wood, etc. I found the movie to be laugh out loud funny, but someone who hasn't lived in Texas will probably miss most of the humor. King of the Hill is less subtle, but still pretty accurate.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:14 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mexican Yenta's mention of David Byrne reminds me of another great New York movie: Something Wild. Byrne did the score, which is a wonderful Lower East Side-ish pastiche of Latin, Reggae, and New Wave.

The movie starts in "Downtown" NYC (TriBeCa, SoHo, and the Lower East Side) but quickly skips town for what I thought was Long Island but is actually maybe Pennsylvania according to IMDB. Either way, it gets straight to the heart of a lot of interesting divides in this part of the country (upper/middle vs. working class, rural vs. urban, ethnic vs. WASP, yuppie vs. bohemian).
posted by Sara C. at 7:52 AM on July 16, 2012


Just wanted to state that speaking as someone who grew up in Kentucky, randomkeystrike is dead-on about the TV series Justified. I'm not incredibly interested in the show in terms of plot or anything but having seen a couple of episodes with my husband I was stunned at how completely accurate it was about EVERYTHING.
posted by agress at 7:58 AM on July 16, 2012


Since we're throwing in Premium Cable recommendations.

Feel free to watch True Blood if it's your thing, but don't think it's evocative of life in Louisiana at all.

And, yes, I know it's about vampires so I shouldn't be getting all bent out of shape about everyone's accents and how stupid the name of the town is. But seriously. The verisimilitude is seriously lacking.
posted by Sara C. at 8:17 AM on July 16, 2012


For Michigan, I recommed Grosse Pointe Blank and the Robocop movies.

Though decades old now, the Robocops really hit on the despair waves we in the rest of the state feel emanating from Detroit, however exaggerated/understated (depending on who you ask) they may be. Today, though, the idea of a giant, evil, multinational (non-automotive) corporation taking any interest at all in Detroit proper is almost laughable. The OCP in the movie is actually quite different from a Michigander's view of the auto companies, being distant and evil rather than the key to middle class prosperity (I know older people who still talk about being called "Generous Motors," which is half sincere, half a joke about how much everybody used to steal from the shops).

Grosse Pointe Blank could really be set anywhere, but it's awesome and hilarious. Watch it, but not to get at the soul of the state.

Escanaba in the Moonlight is a take on a part of the state that is completely foreign to me, the Upper Peninsula. I've never even been there, but the stereotype presented is strong down here. It paints a pretty unfair and ugly picture of the Michiganders north of the bridge, at least from what I've learned in my dealings with real yoopers (Upper Peninsula residents, U.P.-er => "yooper") who've moved down nearer civilization.

For TV, as much as I hate it, Home Improvement is pretty evocative of a particular kind of suburban Michigan existence, from the endless snow shoveling to the obsession with restoring classic cars in the garage in the dead of winter. Even the Wilson-Taylor family relationship is pretty spot on to many neighbor relationships, where you get pretty friendly for years over the fence, but almost never come out from behind it and really look at each other.
posted by LiteOpera at 9:58 AM on July 16, 2012


It's been a long time since I've seen it, but The Deer Hunter takes place partly in a steel town near Pittsburgh PA. I remember that it depicted pretty well the blue-collar life in Pittsburgh at the time (1978). And it's a great movie.
posted by booth at 10:16 AM on July 16, 2012


Very Bad Things about Orange County, California
posted by growabrain at 11:39 AM on July 16, 2012


Brick for me, captured the look and feel of a certain type of community in Central California - it really, weirdly, resonated with my highschool experience in Florida. Maybe something to do with the outdoor lockers and lack of hallways. It's a transplanted neo-noir film, and not everyone's cup of tea.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:29 AM on July 17, 2012


The Punisher, with Tom Jane, was set and filmed in Tampa, FL. They rearrange and re-set a lot of the local landmarks, but they are still there.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:40 AM on July 17, 2012


Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind captures the outer borough/subway suburbs of NYC really well, tower blocks and trips to the city and all- it just feels right
posted by The Whelk at 10:26 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


For San Francisco:

If a mini-series is okay, Tales of the City (along with More Tales of the City and Further Tales of the City) is based on a long-running newspaper serial that ran in San Francisco in the 1970s. It really captures the time and the place.

Also, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (a documentary about wild parrots in San Francisco and the man who cares for them), Vertigo (and if you enjoy Hitchcock, throw in The Birds as well), and maybe even Pal Joey.


I'd like to suggest Ruby in Paradise for Florida, but I've never lived in Florida and I don't know how well it captures life there. Can any Florida folks chime in?
posted by kristi at 10:56 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


That link you have for Minnesota movies? I'd definitely recommend Grumpy Old Men as a Minnesota movie. And Drop Dead Gorgeous. And North Country. Because Minnesota has farms and lakes and forests and grumpy old men and beauty pageant contestants and dirty old mines. Oh, and definitely Mighty Ducks.

Damn, those Wikipedia people were good.

I don't know if I'd recommend Juno, though, as it didn't feel really representative of anywhere special and that scene in "St. Cloud" made me go "Where the fuck is that?!?" But the suburbs displayed were pretty correct.

And Kirstie Alley's accent in Drop Dead Gorgeous? SO OVER THE TOP, until you listen to my Aunt Pat talk.

Same thing with Frances McDermot in Fargo. My Aunt Kay talks just like her.
posted by jillithd at 2:26 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Palookaville is very evocative of the Jersey City I knew and loved before parts of it became a sort of neo-Williamsburg/yuppie mecca. It's quite a good film, based on a few Italo Calvino short stories, and includes some early work by Vincent Gallo and Kim Dickens (Matt Saracen's mom on Friday Night Lights and the chef in Treme).
posted by tractorfeed at 3:45 AM on July 18, 2012


I couldn't think of good DC movies, and I just found this list of the 100 "best" Washington movies. And the reason I can't think of them is that most of them are really bad. Many of the movies are Hollywood's idea of what DC is like, or have nothing to do with DC. Two that I'd pick are the War Room, a documentary about the 1992 Clinton campaign, and Broadcast News, about DC journalists, which has one of my favorite lines: "It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you're the smartest person in the room." "No. It's awful."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:36 AM on July 18, 2012


Before this thread closes up, I do have to mention that Fargo is peppered with all sorts of in-jokes, references, and winks to Twin Cities audiences, especially to people in Minneapolis proper and its immediate southwestern suburbs, where the Coen brothers grew up. Steve and Sharon. Gopher hockey. The Carlton Celebrity Room. The landscapes, the suburbs, the offices, anyplace you'd go out to eat, anyplace you'd park a car--all spot on.
posted by gimonca at 7:06 PM on July 18, 2012


Right then everyone, now that everything's died down a bit I've compiled your choices into this list. As you can see there are a few gaps. Any ideas?

Alabama

My Cousin Vinny (set in Alabama, filmed in Georgia)
Sweet Home Alabama

Alaska



Arizona

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (Tucson)
Raising Arizona
Smoke Signals (Phoenix)

Arkansas



California

Milk (San Francisco)
The Times of Harvey Milk (San Francisco)
The Zodiac Killer (San Francisco)
The Zodiac (San Francisco)
Zodiac (San Francisco)
Killer of Sheep (Los Angeles)
Boyz n the Hood (LA)
Short Cuts (LA)
Traffic (San Diego)
Terriers (San Diego)
Anchorman (Shot in LA, set in San Diego)
A Day Without A Mexican
Arrested Development
Trona
Bagdad Café (Mojave Desert)
LA Story
Humboldt County (Humboldt County)
Very Bad Things (Orange County)
Brick
Tales of the City
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
Vertigo
The Birds
Pal Joey

Colorado

Misery

Connecticut

Another Earth (New Haven and Hamden)
The Ice Storm (New Canaan)

Delaware

Wayne's World ("Imagine being magically whisked away to Delaware... Hi, I'm in Delaware.")

Florida

Sunshine State
The Truman Show
Key Largo
Edward Scissorhands
Vernon, Florida
The Punisher
Ruby in Paradise

Georgia

My Cousin Vinny (set in Alabama, filmed in Georgia)
ATL (Atlanta)
Drumline (Atlanta)
Stomp the Yard (Atlanta)
Lottery Ticket (Atlanta)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Savannah)

Hawaii



Idaho

Smoke Signals (Coeur D'Alene Indian Reservation)

Illinois

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Chicago)
Only The Lonely (Chicago)
The Fugitive (Chicago)
High Fidelity (Chicago)
The Blues Brothers (Chicago)
Cheat You (Chicago, Maxwell Street market)
Hoop Dreams (Chicago)
High Fidelity (Chicago).
Barbershop - (Chicago, South Side)
Roseanne (rust-belt Midwest)
Medium Cool
Cooley High
Mickey One
Tom Palazzolo’s films
John Hughes films (Chicago)
Mean Girls (Chicago)
Happy Endings (Chicago)
Knute Rockne, All American (Chicago)

Indiana

Hoosiers (small town)
Breaking Away (small town)
Knute Rockne, All American
Across Indiana

Iowa

The Straight Story (rural Iowa)

Kansas



Kentucky

Justified
randomkeystrike

Louisiana

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Dead Man Walking
Interview With The Vampire (for antebellum and Old New Orleans romanticalness)
Steel Magnolias
Sex, Lies, and Videotape (Baton Rouge)
Treme (New Orleans)
True Blood (but don't think it's evocative of life in Louisiana at all)

Maine

Man With A Plan
A Stranger in the Kingdom
Rivers Flow North
Super Troopers
The Whales of August
Islander

Maryland

The Wire (Baltimore)

Massachusetts

The Fighter (Boston)
The Town (Boston)
Monument Ave. (Boston)
Gone, Baby Gone (Boston)
The Departed (Boston)
Next Stop, Wonderland (Boston)
Good Will Hunting (Boston / Cambridge)

Michigan

Escanaba in the Moonlight
Grosse Pointe Blank
Robocop
Home Improvement

Minnesota

Grumpy Old Men
North Country
Juno
Drop Dead Gorgeous
Fargo (Minneapolis)

Mississippi

The Help (Jackson)
O Brother, Where art thou

Missouri

Can Mr Smith Get To Washington (St Louis)
Winter's Bone (Ozark Hills)

Montana

A River Runs Through It (the real American West)
Big Eden
Clay Pigeons (though not filmed here)

Nebraska



Nevada



New Hampshire

On Golden Pond
Our Town

New Jersey

Garden State (suburban culture)
Mallrats (suburban culture)
Clerks
The Station Agent
The Sopranos
Palookaville (Jersey City)

New Mexico

Sunshine Cleaning (Albuquerque)

New York

Annie Hall
Manhattan
All That Jazz (Broadway)
Do The Right Thing
Leon (The Professional)
Kids
Raising Arizona
Midnight Cowboy
July '64 (Rochester)
Bill Cunningham New York
The 25th Hour
The Yards
Cold Souls
Summer of Sam
Frozen River (Canadian border)
Nobody's Fool
Something Wild
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (borough/subway suburbs)

North Carolina

Bull Durham
Junebug

North Dakota

Fargo (not representaive)

Ohio

American Splendor (Cleveland)
Take Shelter

Oklahoma

Okie Noodling (small town)
Grapes of Wrath.
Twister

Oregon

Sometimes a Great Notion
Cold Weather (Portand)
Old Joy (Portland)

Pennsylvania

The Deer Hunter (immigrant culture of western Pennsylvania)
Rocky Series (Philadelphia)
Pressure Cooker (Philadelphia)

Rhode Island



South Carolina



South Dakota



Tennessee



Texas

Slacker (Austin)
Dazed and Confused (Austin)
There Will Be Blood (set in California, shot in Marfa, West Texas)
Bottle Rocket (Dallas)
Office Space (Dallas)
Lone Star (Mexican border)
No Country for Old Men (Mexican border)
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Mexican border)
Friday Night Lights (the show)
Bernie
Dancer, Texas Pop. 81
Urban Cowboy (Houston)
True Stories
King of the Hill (TV)

Utah

SLC Punk! (Salt Lake City)

Vermont

State and Main


Virginia

The Parking Lot Movie

Washington

Singles (Seattle)
Sleepless in Seattle (Seattle)
Battle in Seattle (Seattle)
10 Things I Hate About You (Seattle)
Say Anything (Seattle)
It Happened at the World's Fair (Seattle)
Assassins (Seattle)
Century 21 Calling (Seattle)

West Virginia

Matewan
Still Bill

Wisconsin

American Movie (Milwaukee)
Chump Change

Wyoming

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Brokeback Mountain


Also:

Washington DC


the War Room
Broadcast News

And:

City Confidential is an excellent true crime TV series that gives great historical and cultural overviews of each town featured.
Pow Wow Highway
No Reservations
posted by feelinglistless at 10:00 AM on July 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've never been to Alaska, and I only know the book, not the movie, but how about Into the Wild? you'd get a few of the Western states thrown in there too.

For Utah beyond SLC, Rubin and Ed, with Crispin Glover's eccentricity at full blast.
posted by hydrophonic at 12:12 PM on July 21, 2012


I have lived in Kansas. I imagine a good tornado movie would give you some taste of it.

For your Georgia list, you can add We we were soldiers. Most of it is set in Vietnam but they deploy from Ft. Benning Georgia.The jump towers and on base housing still look like that. I was born and raised in Columbus. Dad was career military. Ex husband was career military and repeatedly went to school at Benning. As a teen, I had friends living in on base housing there. Parts of the base still look exactly like what you see in the movie. And the Deep South generally is pro military. The military is important to the local culture.

However, this movie is not for the faint of heart. It is based on real life events. The book it is based on was written by one of the people portrayed in the movie. It was an ugly battle with a very high cost in human lives.
posted by Michele in California at 9:04 PM on July 21, 2012


I've been to Alaska but not lived there and John Sayles' Limbo was the best representation of it that I've seen.
posted by jessamyn at 8:03 AM on July 22, 2012


Can any Kansans weigh in on the accuracy of The Wizard of Oz?
posted by madcaptenor at 10:15 AM on July 22, 2012


For South Carolina, you might check out one of the movies made out of Pat Conroy novels, all of which are set in Charleston and its surrounding coastal areas. Prince of Tides was the biggest one, but The Great Santini and Lords of Discipline give you much more of the Southern military culture and the weird class stuff that's hard to explain. And the scenery in all of them is very pretty.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:46 PM on July 22, 2012


I live in Pittsburgh, PA. It's four hours east to Washington, DC, six hours to NYC, and home to me, and I love it. There's a guy named Rick Sebak who works for the local public broadcasting station, and he's done probably 50 documentaries on the city and the region, and 50ish documentaries on things like hot dogs, old highways in America, and other bits of smaller-town or rural life.

His public television station, a search for him on YouTube, and his blog.

30 minute videos are here. Welcome to Americana.
posted by talldean at 7:28 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've only visited this area of the country, but I imagine Fried Green Tomatoes is a pretty good representation of small town life in Alabama in the 20's-30's, and suburban life in Alabama in the 80's.

And although the exact location of the story in Dances With Wolves is vague other than post civil war "wild west," it was filmed almost entirely in South Dakota, and is a great display of how beautiful the wilderness can be up there. I imagine it's also a good indicator of some of the Indian culture of the time.
posted by Kimothy at 8:17 PM on July 22, 2012


I've never been to Memphis, TN but Mystery Train (which was set and shot there) made me want to visit. Likewise, I've never been to Milwaukee, WI but experimental filmmaker James Benning's One Way Boogie Woogie and 27 Years Later made me want to visit.
posted by bubukaba at 10:36 PM on July 22, 2012


For Alaska, I'd recommend The Fourth Kind. It is "based on a true story" and includes details like having to fly from town to town to get places. Alone in the Wilderness is good for the remote cabin culture that definitely exists in Alaska, but The Fourth Kind gives more information about people who live in "urban"-ish settings there.
posted by jillithd at 6:33 AM on July 23, 2012


State and Main would work in a number of PacNW towns as well.

Burn Notice is set / filmed in South Beach area for a number of outside shots and river shots (though a few to me feel "flipped" like they're on CA coast and just reversed the film so the sun was on the right side).

How to beat the high cost of living is pretty decent for PacNW, filmed in Oregon.

Seconding Lone Star for mixed culture. Cloak and Dagger seemed pretty realistic for American kids in that time/space/era.

I've spent precious little time in Memphis but second Mystery Train.
posted by tilde at 10:22 AM on July 31, 2012


If you want a better movie for Delaware I would go with Dead Poets Society. It wasn't technically set in Delaware but as far as I know it was entirely filmed in Delaware. It is definitely what Delaware looks like. It may also be what life in Delaware was like for upper class rich boys in the 1950s. Not being one it's hard to say.
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:57 AM on August 6, 2012


I'm pretty angry that Cedar Rapids was not actually filmed in Cedar Rapids so DON'T WATCH THAT. (I know, I know, I should have other things to be angry about, but I prefer to keep my anger to low-key things that can eventually be ignored rather than like, the kyriarchy.)

Bridges of Madison County. Field of Dreams (no, seriously). Great Iowa movies. Also The Music Man, even though it was entirely filmed in California, was originally written by an Iowan and pretty awesome. (And now I'm going to have "we can be cold as a falling thermometer in December if you ask about our weather in July~!" stuck in my head until I fall asleep.)
posted by saveyoursanity at 9:17 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


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