The Top 5 Movies Set in Louisiana
A steamy, languorous heat, hurricanes (the cocktail as well as the weather event) and the bellowing sound of Brando braying “Stella” are some of the signature moments in the top five movies set in Louisiana. Louisiana is a wild celebration of only-in-America charm. If a movie chooses New Orleans or the Bayou for its location, expect slow talkers, southern charm and an ever-present sweaty heat that melts inhibitions away. Louisiana culture is a mix of Cajun, Creole, African, Carribean and American traditions that have generated a city built on great jazz, delicious food and reputation generated by its popular nickname “The Big Easy,” a nod to the laid-back easy charm that keeps asking you to have a good time. Take a stroll along the picturesque French quarter or peek out in the spooky blue bayou, with these top five movies that remind you what it means to be in Louisiana.
"The Big Easy."
This sultry mix of crime drama and sex appeal captures the sound, the heat and the slow Southern drawl that is Louisiana. As Remy McSwain, Dennis Quaid delivers as a good old boy police lieutenant with a Cajun heart of gold. Ellen Barkin slinks around like a cat in heat whenever she’s around him. The rest of the time, Barkin is a district attorney investigating possible police involvement in a mobster’s murder. This film shows both the night spots and the backyards of Louisiana, and gives viewers an authentic sense of New Orleans.
"A Streetcar Named Desire."
Speaking of cats in heat, Marlon Brando transformed himself from a struggling actor in a cold-water walk-up to a movie star with a simple howl of “Stella.” In this classic film adaptation of Tennessee William’s play, Brando plays Stanley Kowalski, who cruelly drives his fragile sister-in-law Blanche (Vivien Leigh, a.k.a. Scarlett O’Hara) to her breaking point. Blanche’s younger sister, the howled-after Stella, has married the working class brute as a contrast to her fancier family. Elia Kazan directs this Academy Award winning classic that captures the sensual heat of New Orleans.
In this exploration of the Louisiana countryside, Samuel L. Jackson plays the patriarch of the Batiste family. It’s 1962, and Dr. Louis Batiste has a beautiful wife, Roz (Lynn Whitfield) and two beloved daughters, Eve and Cisely. He also has a tendency to seduce his female patients. When his younger daughter observes him with a mistress, it sets of a chain of events that reveals a dark family history. Kasi Lemmons shows another side of the Louisiana lifestyle, life out in the bayous, where family history and dark secrets reside.
"When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts."
Spike Lee directs this multipart documentary about New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He blends astonishing footage of the actual storm, the resulting flooding and incredible accounts of survival. Then, the film goes deeper with an investigation into the Ninth Ward levees and the bumbling response of the Bush Administration, especially FEMA. Yet, the focus remains on the unique, perservering residents of the city and the admirable determination to hold Mardi Gras that make Louisiana such a unique culture.
Indie director John Sayles captures the many layers of conflict in the country of Louisiana of race, class, and country-versus-city in this thoughtful and funny character drama. Mary McDonnell plays a New York City actress, who returns to her family’s country home after a paralyzing accident. The spoiled, bitter star faces the change in her circumstances with a bottle of bourbon and a belligerent attitude towards a long line of hired help. Then, caregiver Chantelle (Alfre Woodard) takes the job and refuses to take the woman’s sour disposition. Though the storyline could easily sway into a Hallmark card, this movie's wise script and two fine actresses give this simple story a deep and humorous look at the human condition.