Clueless is a sprawling portrait of L.A.’s unique beauty
July 17, 2015 11:01 AM   Subscribe

As If: A Journey Through the Los Angeles of Clueless
posted by Bulgaroktonos (27 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
I love Clueless so much, and I love this article for outlining so many reasons why it's meaningful beyond its surface of adorable pink kneesocks.
posted by augustimagination at 11:06 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is delightful! Molly Lambert is a treasure.

Right off the bat: To this day I can quote the opening speech from Clueless the way Cher can quote Hamlet (the Mel Gibson version, of course). When I was bored in class I would try to run through the movie’s entire screenplay in my head

I knew a girl in high school, a few years later, who would often put the Clueless VHS tape on mute and spoke every line of every part. Occasionally, if we wanted a REAL party, we'd chase it with the Newsies VHS and just have the wildest time.
posted by witchen at 11:16 AM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


You know what else does this? Her. I feel like Her is Spike Jonez's love letter to LA's more beautiful areas more than anything else. Both of these movies show an LA that looks totally amazing until you actually go there and realize it's a broken hellhole filled with little more than the arrogance and long lines for bars.
posted by shmegegge at 11:17 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


As an east coaster who has been to California once and never to LA, I found this really interesting. LA geography is one of those things I feel like I get tiny bits of in movies, but I don't understand it as a physical place. Obviously, I still don't, but I liked trying to make sense of it a bit from this article.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:26 AM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


That was great, and I'd forgotten Bronson Alcott High was filmed at Occidental (my alma mater)!
posted by languagehat at 11:43 AM on July 17, 2015


From the first time I watched it, at the Sherman Oaks 5 theater, with a Primus music video (“Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver”) running before it, I was obsessed.

Wait, what?

Whatever the separate appeals of Clueless and Primus are, it's hard to believe they had enough in common to pair them up, ESPECIALLY in 1995.
posted by sleevener at 11:49 AM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


until you actually go there and realize it's a broken hellhole filled with little more than the arrogance and long lines for bars.

Only if you want to schmegegge. L.A. is actually a lot more than but if you're looking for arrogance and assholes, you can certainly find them here. You can also find the Watts Towers and Echo Park's lotus festival and great hiking trails and Little Ethiopia and awesome midcentury architecture. But you have to be open to it.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:51 AM on July 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


Oh, also, my mom graduated from Grant High School and I live about 2 miles from the Circus Liquor, which still looks exactly like that.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:59 AM on July 17, 2015


I remember flying back to LA once through Burbank and taking a shuttle back to my apartment. We drove past the Circus Liquor sign and the other passengers in the van (there were only two of them) promptly lost their shit and started shouting "Clueless! Clueless!". Meanwhile, I was in the back losing my shit for entirely different reasons (Clown phobias are real, folks...).
posted by downtohisturtles at 12:10 PM on July 17, 2015


Of course this is by Molly Lambert. She's my favorite writer at Grantland.

I had some of my best LA movie experiences at the now sadly defunct movie theater at the Beverly Center.

We arrived in LA late on July 3rd, with a U-Haul, 4 cats and an aquarium full of fish, unloaded it in 2 hours fueled by adrenaline and champagne, then collapsed on the bed while the cats explored the apartment. The next day, we went to see "Independence Day" on the big screen at BevCen, followed by a Dodger game with fireworks. There may have been a trip to Canter's involved as well.

Other cinematic highlights included "Cruel Intentions" featuring an cry/moan of "Buuuuuuufffyyy!" from an audience member when Sarah Michelle Gellar kissed Selma Blair, and seeing "The Fifth Element" in the tiniest theater I've ever been in. Good times.
posted by mogget at 12:27 PM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Having a deep, abiding love long before I ever considered moving to LA for lots of movies where Los Angeles is a major character and plot device, has made living here an even richer experience than it would otherwise be. LA is such an amazing city in ways that I'm convinced are impossible to appreciate without both living here and really digging into the city to find its greatness. It is only made more great by the fact that I can watch favorite movies from my pre-LA years (from Clueless to Pulp Fiction to Double Indemnity or The Big Sleep and tons more) and see my adopted hometown playing so many great roles, or drive around town and recognize locations from favorite scenes.

To people who come to LA and find little more than arrogance and long lines for bars, I say yeah, LA is great at playing that role. It's also great at playing a million other ones equally well.
posted by The World Famous at 12:49 PM on July 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


LA geography is one of those things I feel like I get tiny bits of in movies, but I don't understand it as a physical place.

Tbh I've been here a year and I think that's still true, like how are there multiple mountain ranges, how is sunset on the PCH the best, every day, and what even IS the 10, is it a livestream of hell or a penance inflicted on us by an uncaring deity or what.

Both of these movies show an LA that looks totally amazing until you actually go there and realize it's a broken hellhole filled with little more than the arrogance and long lines for bars.

In conclusion, LA is a land of contrasts.
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:53 PM on July 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Okay, ignorance aloud here, but I saw Clueless atr a drive in for the first time last week. And you all realize is basically a movie about the joys of incest, right?
posted by Keith Talent at 12:53 PM on July 17, 2015


jetlagaddict - for about a minute after my office moved recently, I considered taking the 10 to work and instantly realized that it is backed up to hell already at 5:30 a.m. So, nope.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:59 PM on July 17, 2015


what even IS the 10, is it a livestream of hell or a penance inflicted on us by an uncaring deity or what

Yes.
posted by chicainthecity at 1:38 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's like saying that the US only contains rednecks in cowboy hats. Yes, we have that here, but the US is massive and contains multitudes (and it includes Whitman!). The LA Basin and OC have 15 million+ people. Certainly it has shallow LA. It also has amazing universities and culture and architecture and diversity. And nature. It's a vibrant, exciting, hopeful city chock full of people striving for a better life and chasing their dreams.

All that said, the more people think that LA is a wasteland devoid of culture and full of airheads, the more people stay away. And that's good for already-insane property values and traffic.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:53 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


This has been mentioned on the Blue before, but there's on Netflix a great documentary on LA in movies, LA Plays Itself .
posted by persona au gratin at 2:57 PM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


LA Plays Itself is ahmazing at breaking down how the city is portrayed by both locals and outsiders.
posted by The Whelk at 3:01 PM on July 17, 2015


I was just back there recently—my last visit was in 2006—and the thing that struck me most this time, staying downtown rather than in Brentwood, was the massive income inequality, and the huge homelessness problem, and the way that downtown totally rolls up at night after a certain hour. It was extremely interesting to come back nine years later and get a completely different perspective on the city.

Anyway, I love Clueless, and Los Angeles is a fascinating place.
posted by limeonaire at 5:57 PM on July 17, 2015


I could never understand the love people had for L.A. It always seemed like a hell hole to me full of con artists and movie biz lowlifes. It never appeared like a real place where people would want to live. An ex explained to me how it was different growing up than it appears in the movies. That, like other large cities it's a city of neighborhoods and each has it's own particular feel. Recently I went to visit my brother there and it does indeed have charms beyond what I've seen in movies. It has many lovely spots to recommend it. It's too big for me, though. I've always loved my little cowtown, Denver, which unfortunately is growing by leaps and bounds and is now as (some say more) expensive as L.A. At least the traffic's not as bad (yet).
posted by evilDoug at 6:29 PM on July 17, 2015


It's not called LA Plays Itself, though. It's called Los Angeles Plays Itself. Thom Andersen talks in the movie about how condescending the diminutive "L.A." often is, and the title is a way of reclaiming the full name and respecting Los Angeles as a place and not a joke.

LA Plays Itself was a gay porn movie.
posted by mirepoix at 6:53 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


LA Plays Itself
Huh, I thought you were making that up, mirepoix.
posted by evilDoug at 8:26 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


How Clueless became the prototype for teen movie adaptations.

God, I love all the Clueless stuff lately. Hell, I just found the new book about it at freaking Safeway.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:04 PM on July 17, 2015


incest

If anything I remember thinking "hmm, that's strange, something about this seems off...they're not blood relatives and I am < 15 yo teenager who doesn't have much of a grasp of the specific definitions of incest or statutory rape and the exact parameters to fit within the latter, but somehow it seems weird but not because they're step-siblings but because he's just way more mature and brother-y and she's innocent and smart but naive about the sorts of things he is brother-y about, so it seems like he should be dating someone at his maturity level even if he's just 2-3 years older unless he thinks he needs to pair up with her to save her from picking the wrong guy which is creepy yo"

Then Paul Rudd became immortal somehow
posted by aydeejones at 11:56 PM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


The next Amy Heckerling/Alicia Silverstone project was called VAMPS

They where trying to warn us.

Paul Rudd, das vampyr!
posted by The Whelk at 12:10 AM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Her was shot partly in Shanghai.

There are noises about Francesca Lia Block's Weetzie Bat books being produced.
posted by brujita at 5:56 PM on July 19, 2015




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