We recently posed that question on Facebook, as we prepared this week’s special coverage of the 20th anniversary of the Rodney King riots. Listeners responded with a slew of great suggestions that helped shape yesterday’s show about the riots and pop culture, as well as a few curve balls. Here’s what you said:
Lawrence Kasdan’s 1991 drama “Grand Canyon,” featuring Kevin Kline as an immigration lawyer who befriends Danny Glover as a tow-truck driver, got a few nods. At the time of its release, Roger Ebert wrote that the film “takes place in a Los Angeles that is painted as ominous and threatening, an alienating landscape where rich people pile up bulwarks of money and distance to protect them from the dangers of poverty and despair.” But WWLA fans saw something more familiar in the “Grand Canyon.” Listener Jill Kantrowitz wrote, “The scene… about making a left hand turn is spot on!”
“Boyz n’ the Hood” got a few mentions too, and you can listen to what writer-director John Singleton told Warren Olney about that movie yesterday here. Joyce Elsroad qualified her selection of “Boyz” by adding, “I just moved here.” Gabe Shedd also mentioned Singleton’s debut, but expanded on it, “L.A. is an enormous city with an incredibly diverse population,” he wrote. “For some it could be ‘Boyz n’ the Hood,’ for some it could be ‘American Me’ or ‘The Player,’ ‘American History X,’ ‘Hurly Burly,’ L.A. Story’… the incredible diversity is one of my favorite things about the city.”
“Falling Down,” Joel Schumacher’s 1993 film starring Michael Douglas as an unemployed defense engineer who goes on a violent rampage across the city, got mixed reviews from our listeners. Some said it captured the city at the time, but Deirdre Feeney wrote, “isn’t Falling Down about disillusionment with modern urban life in general? I thought location was irrelevant for that movie. The desire to go postal is universal!”
Commenters Joey Bakshandeh, Linda Ravenswood and Erik Daehler all named Dennis Hopper’s cop drama “Colors,” which stars Robert Duvall and Sean Penn as LAPD officers in the anti-gang unit. Even though the movie came out in 1988, its depiction of jaded and overzealous cops, racial tensions and gang violence — not to mention its use of an Ice-T song four years before he released his post-riots protest anthem “Cop Killer”– all foreshadowed what would happen a few years later. According to Wikipedia, real gang members were hired as actors and guardians on the set, and two of them were shot during filming. Sean Penn was also arrested on the set for punching an extra who took his picture without asking.
Finally, one commenter mentioned another John Singleton movie. Simone Farber wrote, “When the Riots broke out I was actually in Simi Valley working on ‘Poetic Justice.’ So that will always stick in my mind.” John Singleton has said that when the riots broke out, he couldn’t keep “Poetic Justice” star Tupac Shakur on set. The rapper-actor wanted to be in South Central.