Of the cities in the world, few are depicted in and mythologized more in film and television than the city of Los Angeles. In this documentary, Thom Andersen examines in detail the ways the city has been depicted, both when it is meant to be anonymous and when itself is the focus. Along the way, he illustrates his concerns of how the real city and its people are misrepresented and distorted through the prism of popular film culture. Furthermore, he also chronicles the real stories of the city's modern history behind the notorious accounts of the great conspiracies that ravaged his city that reveal a more open and yet darker past than the casual viewer would suspect. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Is there an Editor in the house? Uneven, unstructured
Clocking in at about 2 hours and 45 minutes, there's some good material here, but it would only make a good documentary of about 100 minutes. Which means it runs over an hour too long, made worse by the fact that there's very little structure, so that as it meanders from topic to topic, you have no sense of where the film is headed, and how much damn longer it's going to last. Symptomatically, when the film did end, it ended abruptly -- without a resolution to any of the themes or even a "goodbye". Last of a series of vignettes and a jump cut to credits.
I saw this at the Seattle International Film Festival, and it's the first film I've seen this year that had more than a few audience walk-outs.
All of which is a shame, because there's interesting stuff here, great clips around the general theme of how the city has been portrayed in film and comparing historical realities with portrayals in films as diverse as "Chinatown" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". The understated tone of the narrator is at time effective, and at other times just drones on too long or too polemical...
While the film is nominally about the portrayal of Los Angeles in the movies, it meanders from segments on architecture to political and law enforcement scandals, to discussions of class and race. Again, there's some interesting material on almost all of these topics, but it never gels and is at least an hour longer than it should be. Too bad.
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