Angeles Plays Itself

Los Angeles Plays Itself

Director: Thom Andersen, Encke King

Cast: Thom Andersen, Encke King

     
 

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CalArts professor Thom Andersen directs the digital video essay film Los Angeles Plays Itself, titled after a gay porn classic by Fred Halsted (L.A. Plays Itself). Using clips from well-known mainstream movies to lesser-known obscurities, Andersen explores the myths and realities of the city as produced by Hollywood and as viewed by contemporary

Overview

CalArts professor Thom Andersen directs the digital video essay film Los Angeles Plays Itself, titled after a gay porn classic by Fred Halsted (L.A. Plays Itself). Using clips from well-known mainstream movies to lesser-known obscurities, Andersen explores the myths and realities of the city as produced by Hollywood and as viewed by contemporary philosophy. He divides the film into three segments: "The City as Background," "The City as Character," and "The City as Subject." In addition to the pre-manufactured images, he also provides footage of the actual landscape, showcasing structures like Union Station and LAX. His commentary touches on various political and social views of the city, often voiced through criticism or praise of other filmmakers and their work. Encke King delivers the narration. Los Angeles Plays Itself was shown at the 2003 Toronto Film Festival.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Thom Andersen's documentary examines the many ways the city of Los Angeles is represented -- and misrepresented -- on film. Drawing on an encyclopedic knowledge of not only movies but the city and its architecture, Andersen weaves a witty, passionate and erudite narration through a selection of film clips spanning the popular to the obscure. The narration is scholarly in tone, but it's so full of subtle humor, elegant digressions, and obvious affection for Andersen's subject that one's interest never flags despite the film's nearly three-hour running time (an intermission is included in a nostalgic nod to Andersen's childhood movie-going experiences.) This is a film so full of ideas and observations crackling off one another that it's almost essential to have a notebook handy to keep track of them all. Clips from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Chinatown lead to fascinating digressions into the historical events upon which both films are based. During a disquisition on Hollywood's habitual use of modern architecture -- of which he is a passionate and knowledgeable defender -- as shorthand for evil and decadence, he uses a clip from Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity to point out the bogus "authenticity" of the ubiquitous Spanish Revival houses so often used to evoke wholesomeness and tradition. Fond of taking on sacred cows, he delivers a detailed critique of L.A. Confidential's dubious politics and nostalgic sheen, and gives a tongue-in-cheek re-interpretation of Blade Runner's dystopian Los Angeles of the future as something more like an ideal version of the city, complete with thriving, multicultural street life. The film's most moving section is the final one, in which Andersen gives a detailed account of the work of Billy Woodberry (Bless Their Little Hearts), Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep, To Sleep With Anger), and Haile Gerima (Bush Mama), a collective of African-American filmmakers who brought their own kind of neo-realism to the city's most disadvantaged neighborhoods in the late '70s, creating powerful, now nearly forgotten films about a dimension of the city never before shown onscreen. Andersen deserves credit for including their contributions alongside more well-known works and for creating a brilliant, provocative, one-of-a-kind cinematic essay of his own.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/21/2014
UPC:
0881164000842
Original Release:
2003
Rating:
NR
Source:
Cinema Guild
Time:
2:50:00
Sales rank:
12,404

Special Features

The Tony Longo trilogy (2014, 14 minuts) a short film by Thom Andersen; Theatrical trailer; Collectible booklet featuring essays by Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles and Thom Andersen

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Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Los Angeles Plays Itself
1. Chapter 1 [1:37]
2. Chapter 2 [2:49]
3. Chapter 3 [4:38]
4. Chapter 4 [3:01]
5. Chapter 5 [3:09]
6. Chapter 6 [2:36]
7. Chapter 7 [3:29]
8. Chapter 8 [4:45]
9. Chapter 9 [8:02]
10. Chapter 10 [4:27]
11. Chapter 11 [4:15]
12. Chapter 12 [7:00]
13. Chapter 13 [6:04]
14. Chapter 14 [5:38]
15. Chapter 15 [8:45]
16. Chapter 16 [2:02]
17. Chapter 17 [3:27]
18. Chapter 18 [9:22]
19. Chapter 19 [6:53]
20. Chapter 20 [9:14]
21. Chapter 21 [4:53]
22. Chapter 22 [11:11]
23. Chapter 23 [6:20]
24. Chapter 24 [3:28]
25. Chapter 25 [3:25]
26. Chapter 26 [5:50]
27. Chapter 27 [13:48]
28. Chapter 28 [9:28]
29. Chapter 29 [9:25]
30. Chapter 30 [:49]

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