Los Angeles Plays Itself

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 45


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,069
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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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Encke King
as Narrator

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Critic Reviews for Los Angeles Plays Itself

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (23)

Audience Reviews for Los Angeles Plays Itself

  • Nov 19, 2011
    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 D Super Reviewer
  • Jan 12, 2005
    [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 Super Reviewer

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