As anyone who has attended a children's music concert at one of our libraries in the past can attest, the greater Bay Area has lots of great music for kids and families of all ages and musical interests. To get a sense of the wide range of styles that our local communities foster, check out these albums:
The Milpitas Monster: Now available on YouTube! Directed by local historian Robert Burrill, The Milpitas Monster premiered in Milpitas in 1976. As one reviewer noted, "Milpitas Monster is an earnest portrait of an entire community having good clean fun in Smalltown, USA during the mid-1970s." Hey, what do you mean, Smalltown? Also on dvd.
Searching: You can't get any more local than this, a debut feature by San Jose native Aneesh Chaganty, who previously made commercials for Google. It takes place in San Jose and has many nods to our neck of the woods that will be clear to us insiders. The missing girl goes to Evercreek (Evergreen + Silver Creek) High School, and the local hockey team is The Fins. The news reports are shown on ABC7 and KTVU, and I got a little thrill when the search map on the tv screen showed Milpitas. The entire film takes place on computer screens, apps and tv screens, but far from being gimmicky, it generates real suspense and genuine emotion, especially from John Cho as the missing girl's father. Also, the diverse cast realistically represents the area's demographic.
13 Reasons Why: I live in the little town of Point Richmond, whose historic downtown has been used for quite a few films, television shows and commercials. Most recently, we saw them filming a scene for the second season, first episode of 13 Reasons Why, which takes place in the fictional town of Crestmont, CA. You can see the tunnel leading to Ferry Point in this episode. The first season was mainly based in San Rafael, Vallejo and Sebastopol. Some other movies filmed in Point Richmond include The Sweetest Thing, and Patch Adams.
Pixar: Many know that Pixar is in Emeryville, but not everyone knows that they started out in Point Richmond, in a small office building near the train tracks. Their first feature films, Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2 (and parts of Monsters Inc) were made there. You can see the Hidden City Café in Monsters Inc, a restaurant where Pixar employees went for lunch because there was no cafeteria. They used quite a few other real places in their movies as well, in Oakland, Emeryville and Berkeley.
Some great music has come out of our area as well. Check out Live at the Jazz School by San Jose gamelan degung group Pusaka Sunda, led by Sundanese virtuoso suling (Indonesian flute) player Burhan Sukarma.
Celebrated classical composer Lou Harrison lived in Aptos for many years and taught at San Jose State, Cabrillo College and Mills College. The library has books and documentaries about him, and his music can be heard streaming and on cd.
Talise Trevigne sang with Opera San Jose before her career took off and she began singing with opera companies around the world. She often collaborates with local composer Jake Heggie, and premiered the new opera Proving Up, by Missy Mazzoli.
I'm proud to be from the Bay Area, and that sense of pride only grows when I think of all the great music and film that comes out of this glorious region!
To start things off, David Fincher directed one of my all-time favorite films, Zodiac. Featuring an ensemble cast that includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey, Jr., Chloe Sevigny, and John Carroll Lynch, Zodiac relays the true story of the hunt for the notorious Zodiac Killer from the perspective of Robert Graysmith (played by Gyllenhaal), San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist and future author of several books about the Zodiac Killer. The Zodiac Killer terrorized San Francisco and the North Bay regions in the late 1960s. The Zodiac Killer was never caught, and it remains one of the most famous unsolved crime cases in history. If you're a true-crime buff or just interested in Bay Area history, Zodiac is a film you won't want to miss. I love this film so much that I watch it roughly every year, and I never tire of it. It's just so good.
The East Bay is well-known for its underground music scene and was home to a vibrant punk scene from the 1970s to the 1990s. I'm lucky enough to have attended several shows in the 80s and 90s at 924 Gilman, a venue featured in the documentary Turn it Around: The Story of East Bay Punk. In it, we learn about the beginnings of such bands as Operation Ivy, Rancid, Dead Kennedys, and Green Day. Anyone interested in punk or Bay Area music history will enjoy this documentary. You can catch Turn it Around on Kanopy.
Finally, I want to talk about singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson. I've enjoyed his music for long time, but I don't know too much about him, so I turned to my colleague Sara, who is a big fan of his. She offered the recommendations for this entry. Thanks, Sara! Be sure to check out his album There's a World Beneath These Fireworks and the following songs:
Finally, don't miss Sara's all-time favorite Matt Nathanson video, for his song Modern Love.
The Bay Area is famous for spawning the San Francisco Sound in the 1960s: with groups like Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Santana leading the movement. Check out The Fillmore: Last Days, a documentary about the 1971 closing of the Fillmore Auditorium for a dose of that San Francisco Sound. Other great locally based groups from that era include Sly & the Family Stone, Steve Miller Band, and Malo. Groups like Oakland’s Tower of Power, the rock super group Journey and The Tubes, with their quirky theatrics, ruled the seventies.
Many movies have been filmed in the Bay Area. The Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds features locations in San Francisco and Bodega Bay, and Vertigo includes scenes shot in San Juan Bautista, San Francisco, Big Basin State Park and Cypress Point, Monterey. The 1970s cult favorite Harold & Maude includes locations like Hillsborough, Half Moon Bay, SF and Santa Cruz. 1987’s vampire classic The Lost Boys was filmed throughout Santa Cruz County, including at The Boardwalk and in Pogonip Park. The 2006 book Celluloid San Francisco: The Film Lover's Guide to Bay Area Movie Locations by Jim Van Buskirk & Will Shank gives you maps and a bit of background on over 1500 films shot in this region. Use it as a guidebook to explore the Bay Area through a cinematic lens.
I challenged myself to come up with some local movie-related picks that did not necessarily relate to the tech industry but are rooted right here in good ol' Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. Then I decided to challenge you to a little trivia, see if you can name these locals in film:
- Do you know the name of the actor who was born in Cupertino and has been in a wide array of movies that have included co-starring with actresses like Julia Roberts, Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Jennifer Aniston. Check out this list of DVDs that he has been in to see who he is.
- Can you name the 2018 movie that has the same name of a road in San Jose, Campbell, & Los Gatos?
- Can you name the movie that stars Michael B. Jordan and is tied to an East Bay location?
- Can you name both the movie and the Oakland-born actor that played a pilot from the Bay Area? (Coincidentally the actor from question #1, was in this movie as well!)
Thanks for playing!
From San Jose...
Also from San Jose, actor and martial artist Ernie Reyes Jr shows off some radical karate skills (and acting chops to a much lesser extent) in the 1993 comedy Surf Ninjas.
It’s all in the family with the R&B trio from Oakland Tony! Toni! Toné! Their song “Anniversary” is so ingrained in my mind that I can’t even hear about someone celebrating an anniversary without singing the main line of that song to myself. The talented group also backs Alicia Keys on the soulful track “Diary”.
Tony! Toni! Toné! member Raphael Saadiq was later in the supergroup Lucy Pearl with Dawn Robinson, formerly of R&B girl group En Vogue, which also originated in Oakland in the late 1980s. There are so many gems on The Very Best of En Vogue album if you are in a nostalgic mood.
Last but not least, Oakland born-and-bred singer-songwriter Kehlani is riding high on the new wave of R&B. Check out “You Should Be Here” from the 2015 mixtape of the same name and the latest single “Altar” for a good sense of Kehlani's romantic and poetic side.
Movies & Music - Question of the Week
Ben & Jerry’s named one of their ice cream flavors this in tribute to the Grateful Dead.
Grateful Bread Pudding0
Last Week's Trivia Answer: Ennio Morricone