Saturday, June 12, 2010

London, Cinema Style

Movies have always provided the ultimate escape and it is wonderful to be transported to another country in a two hour time frame and without having to leave your seat. This week's Cinema Style takes a look at a few diverse films across the pond and not just those that involve James Bond or Harry Potter. Here are a few of my favorite films that are a virtual travelogue:

Four Weddings and a Funeral: The 1994 comedy had the winning combination of a unique premise, a diverse cast and collectible soundtrack and a film that caught Hugh Grant at the top of his game. While the film was shot at numerous churches and private estates, check out the Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf and Spa (scene of the second wedding reception) which was also the movie location for Never Say Never Again and Eyes Wide Shut.

Notting Hill (1999): Another Hugh Grant vehicle (he was on a roll), the perpetual British playboy portrays a travel book store owner who falls in love with an A list star played by A lister Julia Roberts. The film was shot  all over Notting Hill (Grant's house was actually that of the film's screenwriter Richard Curtis on Westbourne Park Road) and viewers will no doubt recognize the Savoy and Ritz Hotels and markets on Portobello Road. And there is no travel book store --- it was actually shot in an antique store called Notting Hill on 142 Portobello Road.

Indiscreet (1958): Ingrid Bergman plays an actress (Anna) who experiences love at first sight with Cary Grant only to find he has a secret. The romantic comedy was shot in London's Belgrave Square, Leicaster Art Gallery, Cleopatra's Needle, Picadilly Circus and the Royal Opera House. Anna's apartment was furnished with Raoul Dufy and Pablo Picasso paintings (borrowed of course!) and along with her wardrobe, was quite spectacular.

Wimbledon (2004): It doesn't get any more British than this film as a has-been pro player (Paul Bettany)  ranked #119 in the world makes a comeback at Wimbledon and falls in love with a rising star (Kirsten Dunst) in the process. The tennis scenes were actually shot in between the 2003 matches and the only time filming on the hallowed grounds has ever been allowed.

Match Point (2005): One of my favorite although different Woody Allen films, rumor has it that its Allen's too. Relationships and death naturally play a role as a very married former British tennis pro (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) has an affair with a young American shopgirl/actress (Scarlett Johannsen) in this dark thriller. Scenes of Upper class London abound from the Royal Opera House and Queen's tennis club to Sloane Square, Brasserie Max (located in Covent Garden Hotel) and The Audley where the young lovers first get to know each other. Meyers apartment with the incredible view was shot at the Parliament View apartments (below).

The Queen (2006):  Helen Mirren gives a dead-on Academy Award winning performance as her Majesty (along with Michael Sheen as Prime Minister Tony Blair) during the days of the monarchy after Princess Diana's death. Naturally scenes were not shot in Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street (only exterior) but production designer Alan MacDonald and set decorator Tina Jones gave the interiors authenticity.

Georgy Girl (1966): The late Lynn Redgrave was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress for her role as a somewhat homely spinster looking for love in sixties London. The film captures the city at the height of the proverbial "swinging sixties" movement. Shown below is Redgrave with Alan Bates.

Seeing Jude Law as Alfie below reminds me I need to check the expiration on my passport....happy summer travels.

Photo Credits: IMDB, BBC Films, Universal Pictures, Pathe Pictures, Warner Brothers and Columbia Pictures.