Los Angeles Plays Itself Review

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Thom Andersen takes us on a cinematic bus tour of "the most photographed city in the world".


"Los Angeles is the most photographed city in the world," Thom Andersen declares in his documentary, a cinematic bus tour through its streets. Weighing in at nearly three hours and drawing clips from a huge range of films (from Annie Hall to Zabriskie Point), it promises to be a comprehensive study. Problem is, Andersen makes a deeply dull guide, intoning his humourless points in a dry-as-powder monotone.

Interesting lessons, such as the history behind Chinatown's reservoir plot or the tendency of Hollywood villains to inhabit modernist houses, are mixed in with an array of petty grievances - movies that refer to "LA" "trivialise" the city's heritage, while all he offers on Michael Mann's urban masterwork, Heat, is that a bookstore clerk couldn't, in reality, afford a hillside condo...

Interesting in places, but let down by a narrator / director who is as dull as dishwater.