Los Angeles Plays Itself

Director: Thom Andersen
Year Released: 2003
Rating: 3.5

Professor and long-time Los Angeles (not "L.A.") resident Andersen examines the way in which his beloved city is represented in the movies, how - as a city - it is overshadowed by the idea of "Hollywood," how "Hollywood" ignores the poor residents of Los Angeles, how some of its locales (the Bradbury Building, for example) get re-used over and over again in movie shoots and acquire a mystique of their own. The scope is vast and it's amazing how many movie clips Andersen squeezes in there - he misses a few, sure, but that's certainly understandable - and though he has a taste for B-movies and the independent (Killer of Sheep … not Pulp Fiction) he makes sure not to miss in-depth analysis some of the biggest and most important Los Angeles-based movies of the 70's, 80's and 90's (Chinatown, Blade Runner and L.A. Confidential, respectively). If the tone comes across as a little glib - and it is a little glib - that's certainly acceptable: Andersen has a right to be bitter and a little defensive, considering that a place he's called home for so many years - and a place he has so much respect for - has such little respect for its underprivileged and too much respect for its kooks, divas and privileged. It's the most realistic studio tour you're likely to take.