I watch a lot of movies from the 1960’s and 1970’s and in that cultural vein, I recently viewed “Model Shop” with Anouk Aimee and Gary Lockwood. As a conventional movie, it wasn’t great and it definitely felt culturally dated. As an anthropological / sociological relic from the near past, it was absolutely mesmerizing and because of my personal relationship with the movie locale, it was a total mindf***.
This contemporary review of the movie gives a good overview of the story but what it fails to mention is that half the movie watches Gary Lockwood drive around Hollywood / West Hollywood mostly from a wide-angle camera mounted to the front of his car. These are long scenes with very few apparent edits, making the comparisons with Street View very apt IMO. Watching the movie in Full HD, one can see with incredible clarity the typical daily life and routine taking place in the streets and businesses as Gary drives by, parks, and enters /exits some local establishments. One scene where Gary drops by a local house where the members of the band “Spirit” are practicing (in order to ask one of them for $100) is particularly fascinating (almost as mesmerizing yet diametrically opposed to the famous Club Scene in Blow Up featuring the Yardbirds).
My own relationship to the locale makes this scenery particularly poignant for me. My conscious memory doesn’t quite stretch back to 1968 (I was born in 67) but it certainly goes as far back as 71/72/73 and the backdrop wouldn’t have changed much in that short time. As a young child, I was frequently driven around the areas that were in the movie and while I couldn’t have recalled any of it without the video prompting, as the filmed progressed, I saw a slew of businesses in the background whose names were instantly familiar to me (even though I likely hadn’t ever consciously thought of them and hadn’t glanced upon that particular scene in 35+ years). The déjà vu feeling I had throughout the movie was amazingly intense.
We all have memories of when we were real young…little bits of video in our head that will always stay with us. If we’re lucky (depending on how old we are), we might have some actual video of past scenes we’ve interacted with, though videos from the distant past will likely be short, narrowly focused, and of low quality / clarity. For me, watching Model Shop was like being immersed in a long-playing personal video that I didn’t even know existed and luckily stumbling upon this movie was an amazing personal blessing.
On a much smaller scale, the opening of Cassevetes “Killing of a Chinese Bookie” takes place in roughly the same neighborhood. Ben Gazzara enters the Melting Pot restaurant…one I remember well from that same early part of my youth.
Speaking of which, when will Google allow “movie view” in Street View? I would think it’s just a matter of time…