London Filming Locations: Various

It’s nearly May and I am still blogging about my various trips to London over the festive period but this is definitely the final part. I concentrated on shooting locations for certain films which is why the likes of Trainspotting, Mission Impossible, Tomb Raider, The Bourne Ultimatum, Harry Potter, James Bond etc have all had their own entries. I now present you with the best of the rest…

 

Above left: 16-18 St James’ Walk is Hugh Grant’s hi-tech ‘island’ apartment in ‘About A Boy’. Above right: Royal Exchange buildings features at the end of ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ and is where Mark Darcy presents Bridget with a new diary in the snow. Below left: 13 and 15 Park Street as featured in ‘Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels’ were Dog’s place and the gangs hideout respectively. I was a bit annoyed to discover its now a Paul Smith shop. Below right: The Jolly Gardeners, 49 Black Prince Road became ‘The Drowning Trout’ in ‘Snatch’.

 

 

Above left: Clarendon Gardens in Wembley was the ‘Kitchener Road’ house at which Jimmy (Phil Daniels) attends the Mod party in ‘Quadrophenia’. Above right: S&M Cafe at 4-6 Essex Road near Angel tube station was the Mods’ London hangout in ‘Quadrophenia’. Below left: Tom Cruise goes to look for the woman at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital on Fulham Road in ‘Eyes Wide Shut’. Below right: Hamleys on Regent Street was used as the ‘New York’ store where Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman come to some kind of reconciliation at the end of ‘Eyes Wide Shut’.

 

 

Above left: The Magpie at 12 New Street was the coppers local in ‘Basic Instinct 2’. Above right: Police psychologist Dr Glass’ office in “Basic Instinct 2′ was the phallic shaped Swiss Re Tower. Below left: Wembley Stadium. The old stadium with its twin towers was seen in ‘Mike Bassett: England Manager’. Below right: Peninsula Heights was where Michael Caine organised things in ‘The Italian Job’.

 

Review: Films Set In Japan – ‘Into The Sun’ (2005)

Love him or hate him Steven Seagal films do a job. Admittedly its usually the same job and that is usally wooden acting, bad dialogue, unrealistic action scenes, pathetic plots and heavy duty martial arts action combat where the bad guys are taken on and defeated by the hero of the hour. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that ‘Into The Sun’ is no different.

Its certainly no ‘Under Siege’ but this 2005 film is actually better than I thought it would be. It may be a fairly average film full of clichés but its entertaining enough with some magnificent Tokyo landscape on show including Shinjuku, Hamarikyu Gardens, Zojoji temple, Tsukiji fish market and Tokyo Tower. It starts off with a fairly pointless pre-titles action scene in Burma (in reality it was shot in Chiang Mai in Thailand) before the typical Asian strings kick in as the opening titles begin. We then see the usual aerial shots of Tokyo and then a governor is suddenly assassinated and that can only mean its time for Seagal’s character to enter the scene and save the day. I can’t remember his name but that doesn’t really matter when he basically plays the same character in every film he ever does!

Here, he is an ex-CIA agent who is hired to track down the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) responsible for the killing. In true movie-style another agent is assigned to work with him who just doesn’t possess the knowledge and understanding of Japanese customs and the Yakuza that Seagal does.

What is really stupid is the choice of language used in some scenes. The Japanese and Chinese characters speak to each other in broken English and whilst Seagal’s character often speaks in Japanese he then uses English with his Japanese fiancée who communicates in Japanese. This fairly unconvincing romance develops amid the beauty of Hamarikyu Gardens and inevitably she is killed and it then becomes personal and he swears revenge on the bad guys. Such an original formula eh!

 

Review: Films Set In Japan – ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III’ (1993)

Well I managed to sit through all 95 minutes of this movie which is set in feudal Japan (1185 to 1868). I will never ever get that time back! I watched this with one eye very much on how it inter-spersed the heroes in a half shell with the legendary and deadly samurai.

At the start of the 1990’s the Teenage Mutant Ninja (changed to ‘hero’ for the cartoon) Turtles were big business. I recall watching a few episodes of the cartoon and getting a pirate copy of the first film but it’s probably the theme tune which sticks in my head more than anything and I am afraid to say that my ironic use of the word ‘cowabunga’ in this day and age loses its irony the more I say it!

Lets get on with the storyline then. On second thoughts why should I bother wasting any time explaining it when it seems that the writers put so little effort in to yet another time-travel plot gimmick that had something to do with a magic scepter which could transport them back to 17th century Japan. Possibly the only positive from the film is that Michaelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello and Raphael train to perfect the art of becoming one and even manage to show how the introduction of guns into Japan destroyed the samurai class and altered power structures.

Primary antagonist Shredder is totally absent in this movie (maybe he died in the second movie???) , Splinter is under-used and pretty much static for the few moments he appears (albeit his top half only!) in his underground house. Anyway, who gives a sh*t about all this. The popularity of the turtles was already on the wane by the time this film came out in 1993.

  

Review: Films Set In Japan – ‘Walk, Don’t Run’ (1966)

Set during the Tokyo Olympics of 1964 this was Cary Grant’s final film appearance and it sees him arrive in the Japanese capital on business but he is unable get any accommodation. Whilst at the British Embassy he sees an advert for an apartment which he soon fast-talks his way into sharing with Samantha Eggar. After a couple of days he then decides to sub-let his half of the place to a member of the USA Olympic team and then he tries to play cupid.

I picked up this film for a few quid whilst I was back in Britain over the Christmas period and finally got round to viewing it recently. The reason I watch all the films featured in the ‘set in Japan’ category on this blog is for the locations. Asakusa senso-ji temple is at the start of the film just to set the scene and once it gets underway we see the British Embassy, Yoyogi stadium, the outside and lobby of Hotel Okura and the streets of Toranomon. The film offers a rare glimpse of life in 1960’s Tokyo which I’ve heard just doesn’t really exist anymore.

Its a light, romantic comedy where the plot flows along gently with, in my opinion, the best scenes being when its just Grant and Eggar working their way round the absurd bathroom schedule. Grant provides further comedic timing when distracting Eggar’s fiancee on a boat trip as he tries to provide matchmaker. After that I feel it gets a bit silly and its maybe no surprise that Grant decided to call it a day at the end of this!

‘Walk, Don’t Run’ was perhaps one of the first true Hollywood films to be made in Japan and inevitably shows the usual exaggerated scenes of bowing and disgust at the thought of eating raw octopus which have popped up time and time again through international films set in the land of the rising sun. Overall, its a nice, little movie to fill a couple of hours when but walk, don’t run to see it!

London Film Museum: Star Wars Special

  It seems kind of ironic that the highlight of the London Film Museum for most visitors is a Hollywood production! The main reason Richard Richard and I went there was to get our photo taken with droids C3P0 and R2D2 on a Star Wars set called the Rebel Blockade Runner, a.k.a. the Tantive IV which featured in ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope’.

The cost of this was not included in the entrance fee so you have to cough up £7 for one photo or you can get two for a tenner. We went for the latter. The photographer will take a load of photos and then you select the ones you want but you can only get the copies in printed format. We scanned the photos when we got home and Richard Richard added the colour to the lightsabers.

        

There are plenty of other Star Wars exhibits on display such as Han Solo in carbonite (from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’), Boba Fett, Darth Vader and stormtrooper mannequins, lightsaber and air-blaster props, production storyboards, behind the scenes photos and so on.