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8.7
/10
1,030 Ratings

Los Angeles Plays Itself

Directed by Thom Andersen
United States, 2003
Documentary
  • English
  • English

Synopsis

Of the cities in the world, few are depicted in and mythologized more in film and TV than the city of Los Angeles. Carefully weaving together footage from films made in or about the city, Thom Andersen gradually builds his thesis about how Hollywood has represented, and misrepresented, its hometown.

Our take

Both a moving homage to his adopted hometown and an insightful work of film criticism, essayist and professor Thom Andersen has made a wide-ranging epic that explores how the City of Angels has been used in TV and cinema in the 20th century. Featuring clips from more than 200 LA-set films!

Los Angeles Plays Itself Directed by Thom Andersen
What Andersen is trying to do is restore the city’s identity, asking us to accept it as it is, to dispel the myth and undress the codes of Hollywood, to see beyond the mirage. It’s a noble endeavour from one of cinema’s true thinkers: a step towards reality in order to see the light.
March 14, 2018
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It’s an essay that qualifies as social history, as film theory, as personal reverie, as architectural history and criticism, as a bittersweet meditation on automotive transport, as a critical history of mass transit in southern California, as a wisecracking compilation of local folklore, as “a city symphony in reverse,” and as a song of nostalgia for lost neighborhoods such as Bunker Hill and unchronicled lifestyles such as locals who walk or take buses.
October 01, 2004
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Eccentric, standoffish, fiercely intelligent, and possessed of some moments of truly searing insight, Andersen’s consistently entertaining essay film takes its doggedly prosaic tack about as close as it can come to poetic revelation, aided in no small part by the very haziness of its title subject.
July 01, 2004
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