Ah, San Francisco. Land of trams, fog horns, sea mist and sublime coastal landscapes. This chilled and eclectic patch of California is also the setting for Woody Allen's new film, Blue Jasmine. The movie is loosely inspired by A Streetcar Named Desire and tells the story of Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), a one-time New York socialite who has fallen on hard times and is forced to stay with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) and adapt to her much more humble, easy-going way of life in San Francisco.
John M Morse is the film's assistant director and also a San Francisco resident for the past 28 years. Below, he shares his insider tips on the city, covering everything from hot new brasseries to his favourite walking spots and places to escape to out of town:
- We have a great restaurant/bar in my neighbourhood: NOPA. My wife and kids enjoy The Grove (pictured above). Also, this town has many great venues for live music. The jazz and rock and roll tradition lives on in SF.
- Our Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is a favourite, but it's currently closed for renovation. Great facility, collection, and exhibits.
Shop, shop, shop
- I love to shop for music at Amoeba Records in the Haight. It's one of the best record stores in the world.
- The locals and the tourists love Crissy Field (pictured above). It's a fabulous walking path in any weather that leads you along the shoreline to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge or a trip to Alcatraz are popular and deserve to be.
Walk it off
- San Francisco has many great stairways, many off the beaten track. Taking the Filbert Street steps up to Coit Tower is a classic. Most tourists drive up or take a tour bus, but the stairs lead you up a magical path filled with nature's gems. Start at Sansome and Filbert Street and climb.
- For affordable and tasty food, head for Phuket, on Divisadero Street. For a taste of the high life, book in at The Big 4, in the Huntington Hotel on Nobb Hill, or pair up a night at the San Francisco opera (or symphony) with Absinthe Brasserie (pictured above) in Hayes Valley, which is loaded with many other fine restaurants.
It was a career highlight to work with Woody Allen in my hometown. I can't imagine any project topping that. In the film, Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) was moving from her opulent world in New York to her sister Ginger's (Sally Hawkins) world in San Francisco. The contrast of Ginger's lower middle class life style with Jasmine's New York lifestyle defined what neighborhoods were considered. I sensed Woody also wanted to avoid many of the cliché areas of town that seem to make it on the screen every time film companies shoot here.
Sum It Up
It's a generalisation, but tolerant seems to be a philosophy that fits San Francisco. If I had to describe the city in three words, they would be: Bring A Windbreaker.
Blue Jasmine, directed by Woody Allen and starring Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins and Peter Sarsgaard, hits cinemas on 27 September 2013
Photo credit: Rex Features