Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) - Rotten Tomatoes

Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003)

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Critic Consensus: A treat for cinephiles, this documentary is a comprehensive, academic, and enlightening film essay concerning Los Angeles and its depiction in the movies.

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Movie Info

CalArts professor Thom Andersen directs the digital video essay film Los Angeles Plays Itself, titled after a gay porn classic by Fred Halsted (L.A. Plays Itself). Using clips from well-known mainstream movies to lesser-known obscurities, Andersen explores the myths and realities of the city as produced by Hollywood and as viewed by contemporary philosophy. He divides the film into three segments: "The City as Background," "The City as Character," and "The City as Subject." In addition to the pre-manufactured images, he also provides footage of the actual landscape, showcasing structures like Union Station and LAX. His commentary touches on various political and social views of the city, often voiced through criticism or praise of other filmmakers and their work. Encke King delivers the narration. Los Angeles Plays Itself was shown at the 2003 Toronto Film Festival.

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Cast

Encke King
as Narrator

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Critic Reviews for Los Angeles Plays Itself

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (22)

A definitive statement about how the movies have distorted our perceptions of this city's architectural, cultural and historical identity ..

September 1, 2016 | Full Review…

Blends a complex kaleidoscopic portrait of the city and a powerful work of film criticism with Andersen's personal story of living in Los Angeles.

April 4, 2016 | Full Review…

Andersen's inspired ruminations about his city as a filming location and as a repository for other filmmakers' daydreams and nightmares.

September 18, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

One of the great films of the century to date, poignant and affecting.

January 1, 2014 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

CalArts professor Thom Andersen poured a lifetime of moviegoing (and his own complex affection for the city he calls home) into this revelatory two-part documentary, a film that trains you to look at things askew.

December 31, 2013 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Using well-chosen clips from roughly 200 films, many of them obscure, Andersen makes a powerful and impassioned case for reassessing his beloved city.

October 14, 2005 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Los Angeles Plays Itself

highly entertaining and full of fascinating information about films set in and around los angeles, it's a documentary made entirely from clips of other films (roughly 200 of them)! of course, this caused some licensing issues and so it's never been properly released, only playing festivals here and there, but guess what? it's on youtube in 12 parts, starting here: http://youtu.be/7SNc41zyLJ0

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic][color=darkorange]"Los Angeles Plays Itself" was a great documentary that was released last year. It was on the surface an examination of how the city of Los Angeles has been portrayed in films over the years. But it's also a lesson in history, politics, geography and architecture.[/color][/font] [color=#ff8c00]The reason I'm bringing up this film now is that the filmmaker was wondering why Los Angeles' Union Station has been the scene of so many kidnappings in movies, most notably in Nick of Time(1995). (I was in Union Station in September and I didn't notice any sort of nefarious activity going on.) Which brings me to...[/color][color=#ff8c00]Sunday night's season premiere of "24" which did also feature a kidnapping at Union Station.(And don't even get me started on the detour through Three Days of the Condor which led up to that...)[/color] [color=#ff8c00](I won't try to bring up television in this journal unless it has some connection to movies.) [/color]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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