Ah, London, home to classics such as the “Harry Potter” franchise, “Love Island” and Hugh Grant. From James Bond to Sherlock Holmes, London has always been a hub for popular media and cinematic bops. With the mess that is the current American sociopolitical climate, it makes complete sense if you want a break from our red, white and blue. So instead, head on over to another red, white and blue — London!
London is the perfect city to start off the cozy winter season — filled with maddeningly charming accents and annoyingly endearing British terms such as “cheers” and “mate,” London is a magical city with wintry backdrops tailor-made for all of the upcoming holidays, nondenominational or otherwise. So, if you are fancying a cinematic hop across the pond, why not watch these three films this weekend to immerse yourself in British culture.
A Hard Day’s Night
Only true music nerds have heard of this little known British band from the 1960s called the Beatles. This underground group of four from Liverpool had a few hits back in the day and even made a few musical movies, the most iconic being “A Hard Day’s Night” in 1964. Released right at the tail end of the British New Wave, “A Hard Day’s Night” follows the Fab Four as fictionalized (but really just them) versions of themselves, as they prepare to perform on television in London. “A Hard Day’s Night” encapsulates the zeitgeist of the Swinging Sixties well and is a great film to introduce your friends to the Beatles and the band’s music. This day-in-the-life film perfectly captures the zany humor of the Beatles that made them so gosh darn lovable to begin with.
Shaun of the Dead
The first film in Edgar Wright’s “Three Flavours Cornetto” trilogy (consisting of “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz,” and “The World’s End”), “Shaun of the Dead” follows British chums Shaun and Ed as they try to survive a zombie apocalypse in London. Of course, the British buddies and a few of their friends hole up in the most English place possible: a pub. Because where else would you want to spend the potential last days of your life? The first of many co-written collaborations between Wright and Pegg (name a more iconic British duo. There are probably many, but none quite as British as these two), the film is British humor at its finest. Starring Pegg, who is the personification of British humor, the film has quickly become a cult classic. Is it a romantic view of London? No. Is this film grounded in reality? No. Is it still a very British story set in London, thus working for this list? Yes.
If you only have time to watch one movie on this list, watch this one. You don’t even need to watch the first “Paddington” to watch this seminal classic sequel — just jump straight into “Paddington 2” because that is how good it is. It follows the titular bear as he is wrongfully incarcerated, that’s right as in prison, for a crime he did not commit. Not only that, it stars Hugh Grant as the most charmingly British antagonist since Grant in “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” The internet was rightfully in an uproar when this cinematic masterpiece was snubbed at the Oscars this year. Think this is just a movie people love ironically like “The Kissing Booth” or “Tall Girl”? Think again because it has a freaking 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s right, “Paddington 2” has the same rating as “Citizen Kane,” which basically means it is our generation’s “Citizen Kane.” We said it.
London may be the only loose connection tying these three films together, but watch them this weekend if you want a brief escape across the pond!
Julie Lim covers film. Contact her at [email protected].