DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF (director/writer: Thom Andersen; cinematographer: Deborah Stratman; editor: Yoo Seung-Hyun; cast: Encke King (Narrator); Runtime: 169; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Thom Andersen; Submarine Entertainment; 2003)

"This unusual brainy pic acts to show, in a provocative way, how Hollywood transforms a fiction film into a documentary."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The video essay takes its title from a gay porn classic by Fred Halsted. It's superbly directed by the longtime resident of LA, CalArts professor Thom Andersen ("Red Hollywood"/"Reconversão"/"Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographor"). He assembles clips from 191 movies set in Los Angeles, and provocatively offers a running commentary, via narration, comparing his chosen films with the real LA he knows. Encke King acts as narrator.

The interesting take on Hollywood fantasy influencing movies and how its filmmakers can fool the public about the reality of Hollywood, tries to decipher what film really lets us see about LA without brainwashing the public by its supposed myths. It should greatly please film buffs because of all the film clips on the subject. They range from The Exiles to Rebel Without A Cause to Swordfish. Anderson began the pic in 1999, as his sharp commentary on pop culture zeroed in on films like “L.A. Confidential.” He presents his opinions for what an LA film should be like to be considered authentic and offers commentaries from the likes of such intellectuals as the French philosopher-critic Gilles Deleuze, a look at the city's unique architecture as influencing films and how ripe LA is for pulp crime stories.

This unusual brainy pic acts to show, in a provocative way, how Hollywood transforms a fiction film into a documentary.

REVIEWED ON 5/15/2015       GRADE: A-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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