Thursday, March 15, 2012
Los Angeles Plays Itself - Film Review, Nottingham Contemporary Wednesday 14 March 2012
Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) is a documentary, originally produced as a teaching tool, which uses clips from a variety of movies and comments on the representation of this strange 'city' and the meanings that have been constructed from those representations. It is a sprawling 169 minute film, and you can - as per the embedded link above - view it all on YouTube.
We took the chance to see it projected on a big screen - an experience that was not without its problems (see end of review) but which was nevertheless a brilliant experience.
Thom Anderson, the constructor and director of the film, discussed in an interview with IndieWire about how the film deconstructs the mythologising of Los Angeles (not L.A. which Anderson sees as 'implicitly contemptuous').
It certainly is an enthralling presentation - lots of great clips (all neatly labelled too - I wish I'd had a crib list of films for Marclay's The Clock) - and lots of wonderfully obscure clips too; films, I'd barely heard of let alone seen, and more that made me want to hunt them out. The architecture plays a starring role in the film, so plenty of the Bradbury Building - most recently seen in the gorgeous Academy Award winner, The Artist.
It was especially lovely to see so many clips from L.A. Confidential, because however mythological its version of Los Angeles is ('Welcome to L.A.'), it's a cracking film with great sets and set-ups.
All in all, fabulous to see. And yet...
Bless, him, Assistant Professor Mark Rawlinson (who introduced the film briefly), must have felt rotten. Because this film was being digitally projected from a laptop - and this meant that (a) the projection to full screen highlighted the flaws of something not really made for that purpose, and (b) it really makes a difference if the person projecting shows the two 'halves' of the film IN THE WRONG ORDER.
Hence, we started straight in 'The City as Subject' and ended at the 'interval' with the film credits, and started the second part of the evening with the opening title sequence, and the opening two sections: City as Background and The City as Character. This meant we ended the evening as a whole at the screen titled 'Intermission' (complete with 50s popcorn jingle).
*Sigh* - very frustrating, because it meant that the evening came to something of an anti-climax, when it really didn't deserve to do so.
Anyway, well worth watching and I'd urge you to at least watch some of it on YouTube!