Seeing Indianapolis on the silver screen is a rare experience that does not happen often. But last Saturday was a special occasion, as I had the chance to see Walter (a film shot in Indiana by many Indiana natives) at the IMAX theatre at the Indiana State Museum. Even though I didn't quite feel like the target audience of this Midwestern Amélie for teens, I bought my tickets and made it a date night, complete with a pint of Sun King and a bag of popcorn. The film features a smorgasbord of the places we know and love; Long’s Bakery's doughnuts, the canal, Fountain Square Theatre, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, the Rivoli and lots of other shots, including that of local artist Brian Myers’ East 10th Street mural. And it got me thinking, if other movie directors came to Indianapolis and its surrounding areas, what other buildings, landmarks and neighborhoods that we know and love would they feature?
The following is my list, but please feel free to agree or disagree and add your choices in the comments section:
Sofia Coppola , known for films like Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette, has a marked aesthetic characterized by a knack for fashion, sensuality and pastels. One can feast on color and visual petits fours in the style of Coppola while admiring buildings such as the Murat, the Oldfields -- Lilly House & Gardens and the campus of Marian University.
Christopher Nolan’s trademark includes the Batman’s epic urban landscapes and gritty persistent shadows. While Indianapolis is a modest-size metropolis, architecturally the city possesses some of the visual baroque cues found in Nolan’s work in areas like the Indianapolis Central Library, downtown Washington Street and the Minton-Capehart Federal Building -- Milton Glaser's rainbow-colored mural Color Fuses and all.
Nancy Meyers , director of Father of The Bride, Something’s Gotta Give and The Holiday, would feel right at home in the Meridian-Kessler neighborhood, or on any corner of our city where one might find a Patachou, really. Her crisp, curated alabaster aesthetic is the stuff our brunch dreams are made of.
John Hughes would have certainly featured the hallways of an Indianapolis high school such as Northwest. He would've then followed this group of high schoolers to a sunny afternoon in Broad Ripple Village, where they could find their first love, buy vintage jeans and take photographs on the vibrantly painted little bridge crossing the canal. The cafes, record stores and bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly streets make up the perfect scenery for another teen adventure where the underdog has a lucky day.
Pedro Almodovar ’s films are brimming with bright colors and patterns inspired by the earlier French Nouveau classic Umbrellas of Cherbourg. And what could hypothetically catch the eye of the All About My Mother director more than the modernist architecture and color of the Circle City Industrial Complex, the visually playful grounds of the Indianapolis Art Center and the shades of lipstick at Talbott Street.
M. Night Shyamalan would have a heyday in our creepiest serene getaway. “Shades State Park is that peaceful place you've sought” states the DNR website, but this park is the perfect setting for the trademark supernatural plot twists of the Sixth Sense and Signs director. One moment you are happily hiking through this lush landscape, and then the next thing you know, you are running from an unknown ominous force through the trails of Shades of Death (its original foreboding name).
Wes Anderson indulges in meticulous symmetric cinematographic compositions, his color palettes and attention to detail, in all of his films (notably Royal Tenenbaums and The Grand Budapest Hotel). Garfield Park, the campus of Arsenal Tech High School and the Indiana Repertory Theatre building are just some of the places in our city that possess the ornate and timeless qualities found in Anderson’s films.
Michel Gondry’s visuals tend to be a patchwork of DIY and the overlapping remains of the stories that came before the ones he tells (a la Be Kind Rewind and The Science of Sleep). There is no better place demonstrating these qualities than the Near-Eastside of Indianapolis with its charming new and old business establishments such as Tin Comet Coffee and McGinley’s Golden Ace, its eclectic architecture and its slew of soulful and quirky characters.
If I were pitching the city to filmmakers in search of locations, these would be my some of the most obvious and easy offerings, in my opinion. Which ones come to mind for you?