Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

Los Angeles Plays Itself 2003

Directed by Thom Andersen

USA In English
169 minutes Beta-SP / Colour and B&W

Director, Screenplay


Deborah Stratman


Yoo Seung-Hyun


Encke King


Toronto, Vancouver 2003; Sundance, Rotterdam 2004


Los Angeles Plays Itself is a long, fascinating, argumentative, clip-packed essay about movies by Thom Andersen, a man who calls Los Angeles home (and never calls it ‘LA’). It’s about how movies have denigrated the city; distorted its geography; and, incidentally, insulted its great modernist architects (not to mention Frank Lloyd Wright) by suggesting that their masterpieces are inhabited by sleazeballs. A barrage of excerpts illustrates what Andersen sees as a false history of the city’s corruption: Hollywood peddles a debilitating cynicism that plays into the hands of the ruling classes. Addressing his fellow citizens (he says ‘we’ often), Andersen provides correctives to Chinatown, Double Indemnity, LA Confidential and a thousand other movie-made myths. His movie should appeal as much to American-culture watchers as to cinephiles. “Wildly entertaining and all-inclusive… Andersen brings his ideas to life using every conceivable genre, including exploitation and foreign films, porn, blockbusters and indies… [it] might change the way you look at the silver screen.” — Mark Peranson