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Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003)

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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 1,057 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 32 user | 52 critic | 19 from Metacritic.com

A documentary on how Los Angeles has been used and depicted in the movies.

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Cast

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Storyline

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 (kchishol@rogers.com)

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January 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

To Los Angeles paizei to rolo tou  »

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Did You Know?

Goofs

The narration describes architect John Lautner's famous Chemosphere house as "a hexagon of wood, steel, and glass." The Chemosphere is octagonal. See more »

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Features American Me (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fascinating
27 June 2004 | by (Zeguma Beach) – See all my reviews

You may have noticed other comments here saying that the film is long, boring and has a droning voice over. While it is 3 hours long and has a narrator with a voice like a sedated Billy Bob Thornton, Los Angeles Plays Itself is one of the most fascinating film-crit documentaries ever made.

The director assumes that the viewer has a certain level of understanding of film theory, and that would probably help when the narrator starts citing David Thomson, Pauline Kael, Dziga Veryov and Ozu, but it's not entirely necessary to enoy the film either. All you really need is an understanding that a real place - the city of Los Angeles - is also a fictional place - the LA of the movies. The documentary is like an extended home movie made up of clips from films and interspersed with sections created by the director.

What holds it all together is an examination of Los Angeles as a place in films (locations, buildings), as a stand in for other places (Africa, Switzerland), as a record of places lost (buildings, neighborhoods, people, cultures), as focus for nightmares and dreams (SF like Blade Runner and Independence Day) and more.

While the voice over could have been paced a little better and be bit more "up", this film really rewards viewers who are willing to accept the documentary on its own terms. I found I just couldn't stop thinking about it and now, when watching movies shot in LA, I keep remembering moments from Los Angeles Plays Itself.


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