Top London-based Films, Books and Documentaries according to Londoners
It is important to stress here that these choices do not necessarily represent the views of 1000 Londoners or Chocolate Films. I stress this incredibly heavily as well as, whilst some choices are inspired, others leave a heck of a lot to be desired. It’s not an easy question to answer though with some answers coming back including books or films which aren’t even remotely set in London.
Moreover, the lack of people that chose The Long Good Friday makes us want to cry.
What are your favourites though, let us know below.
Blurbs and photos from Amazon.com and imdb.com
1) Spitalfields Life
“I am going to write every single day and tell you about my life here in Spitalfields at the heart of London…”
Drawing comparisons with Pepys, Mayhew and Dickens, the gentle author of Spitalfields Life has gained an extraordinary following in recent years, by writing hundreds of lively pen portraits of the infinite variety of people who live and work in the East End of London.
Everything you seek in London can be found here – street life, street art, markets, diverse food, immigrant culture, ancient houses and history, pageants and parades, rituals and customs, traditional trades and old family businesses.
Spend a night in the bakery at St John, ride the rounds with the Spitalfields milkman, drop in to the Golden Heart for a pint, meet a fourth-generation paper bag seller, a mudlark who discovers treasure in the river Thames, a window cleaner who sees ghosts and a master bell-founder whose business started in 1570. Join the bunny girls for their annual reunion, visit the wax sellers of Wentworth Street and discover the site of Shakespeare’s first theatre.
All of human life is here in Spitalfields Life.
2) Eastern Promises
Thriller set among the Russian mafia in London from Canadian director David Cronenberg. Nikolai Luzhin (Viggo Mortensen) is a driver for one of London’s organized crime families who are part of the notorious Vory V Zakone criminal brotherhood. The family is headed by Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), a cold and brutal man who hides his true nature behind his public role as a charming restaurateur and his volatile son and enforcer, Kirill (Vincent Cassell), is Nikolai’s closest friend. Nikolai’s carefully maintained existence is threatened when he meets Anna Khitrova (Naomi Watts), a midwife at a North London hospital who has been deeply affected by the plight of a teenager (Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse) who died giving birth. The girl left behind a diary written in Russian in which Anna seeks the answers to the baby’s lineage. By delving into the diary, Anna has accidentally unleashed the full fury of the Vory. With Semyon and Kirill closing ranks and Anna pressing her inquiries – Nikolai finds his loyalties divided. Lives hang in the balance as a disturbing chain of murder and revenge reverberates through the darkest corners of both the family and London itself.
3) 28 days later
Danny Boyle (‘Trainspotting’ and ‘The Beach’) directs this look at what could happen after a viral attack, but this time the virus is so deadly that within seconds the infected person is taken over by a murderous rage, permanently. After 28 days there is only a handful of non-infected survivors, but the virus is not the only thing they have to contend with…
4) Love Actually
Follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England.
5) Cathy, Come Home
Controversial, moving and brilliantly acted, this film directed by Ken Loach is arguably the most influential television drama ever broadcast.
Watched by 12 million people — a quarter of the British population at the time — on its first broadcast on 16 November 1966, Cathy Come Home was a defining moment in British television history. It provoked major public and political discussion and challenged the accepted conventions of television drama.
The film tells the story of Cathy and Reg, a couple with three young children, who find their life spiralling into poverty when Reg loses his well-paid job. Gripping and emotional, it remains a truly ground-breaking piece of dramatic fiction, engaging viewers with social issues, such as homelessness, unemployment and the rights of mothers to keep their own children.
Utilising documentary-style filming on location, the film consolidated director Ken Loach’s reputation for hard-hitting social realism.
6) Up The Junction
Eighteen year-old Polly decides to turn her back on her wealthy background in Chelsea and undertake a more `down to earth’ lifestyle. She moves to Battersea and gets a job in a sweet factory where she is initiated into a way of life she had previously been sheltered from. She later meets Peter, a nineteen year old second-hand furniture assistant, who aspires to be part of the world she has just left. The film centres on the relationship between two young people with conflicting ambitions. Based on the novel of the same name by Nell Dunn.
7) Johnny English
Rowan Atkinson plays Johnny English, the last remaining British spy, and Britain’s last hope! With the assistance of his sidekick Bough, (Ben Miller, Johnny English Reborn) he must investigate the mysterious theft of the British Crown Jewels. The prime suspects are Pascal Sauvage (Being John Malkovich), a mysterious French entrepreneur, and the enticing Lorna Campbell (Natalie Imbruglia). Johnny must get to the truth without denting the nation’s pride… or his Aston Martin! This hugely entertaining family movie will have you crying with laughter as you watch this unlucky secret agent attempt to save the nation he loves.
8) Green Street Hooligans
Elijah Wood plays journalism student Matt Buckner. In the prologue, he’s expelled from Harvard when his over-privileged roommate sets him up to take the fall for his own misdeeds. With nowhere to go, Matt decides to visit his sister, Shannon (Claire Forlani), in London. He’s already got a chip on his shoulder when he falls under the sway of Shannon’s brother-in-law, Pete (Charlie Hunnam), head of West Ham’s football “firm,” the Green Street Elite. Matt soon gets caught up in their thuggish antics-to tragic effect.
9) The Sweeney
Detective Inspector Jack Regan (Ray Winstone) and his loyal partner George Carter (Ben Drew) are old school crime fighters enforcing the law in a modern underworld. Armed and dangerous, the Flying Squad have their own way of operating, and when an old enemy makes a re-appearance on the London crime scene, Regan will do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Tearing up the streets of London, The Sweeney is a stylish, exhilarating action thriller directed by Nick Love (The Firm), and boasts a terrific British cast including Damian Lewis (Homeland), Hayley Atwell (Captain America: The First Avenger) and Steven Mackintosh (Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans).
James Bond’s 23rd outing brings him back to London for a home grown adventure. Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.
11) The Bourne Ultimatum
Jason Bourne dodges a ruthless CIA official and his agents from a new assassination program while searching for the origins of his life as a trained killer.