Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003, Thom Andersen)

Almost exclusively composed of out-of-context scenes from other movies, mostly American with some exceptions (Zabriskie Point). I was surprised to see a scene from “Shockproof” (since I just watched it and had never heard of it before it was restored earlier this year), respectful mention of “Killer of Sheep” (again, this came out before all the recent tours and restorations) and an early scene from Sam Fuller rarity “The Crimson Kimono”.

The voiceover calls attention to the use of the city of Los Angeles in all these scenes, the backgrounds and cityscapes, the falsehoods and misrepresentations, and you quickly learn to watch each clip for the city it displays, not for the intended dramatic content. He talks about the documentary moments in fiction films, the way you can chart the changes in a certain neighborhood (and the eventual demolition of the whole area) through movies that were shot on location there over a period of decades.

One of the better movies about the movie industry, that’s for sure. I never had much interest in Los Angeles, and it’s not like the movie made me a big fan, but subject matter aside, it’s a fascinating idea for a movie, and meticulously put together. Entertaining as hell (didn’t mind the 3-hour length). A few jokes here and there, but mostly a straightlaced essay film. Wouldn’t really have to see it again unless I visit L.A., but I guess I could go for an upgraded version, since I watched a bootleg AVI of a bootleg VHS.