RARA-AVIS: "Los Angeles Plays Itself"

From: Jay Gertzman ( jgertzma@earthlink.net)
Date: 26 Aug 2004

This avuncular documentary by Thom Andersen is about the depiction of L.A. in films, and about the way the history of the city has been presented by the film industry. There is lots of discussion of noir, accompanied by film clips. One of Andersen's points is that, as a citizen, he is bothered by the fact that films using location shots often do not use the real addresses in scripts. A small point perhaps. But he keeps reminding us fake is fake. LA Confidential and Chinatown are fictions. Although Chinatown refers to actual scandals, it was set in 1938 and does not tell the real story of the engineering of the water supply at the beginning of the century. As for LA Confidential, he strains to make the point that (without referring to Ellroy's novels) the real conduct of the LAPD was much worse. There's a provocative segment on Dragnet--which he says, in the person of the robot-like sneers and orders of Joe Friday-- shows the real contempt the force had for the people it was supposed to protect and serve. He resents in general the "secret history" that noir movies create, while at the same time narrating in a tone which seems to me to do little other than confirm those films insights. Ah, but Cain and Chandler were "snobs," and their 1940s film writing created a vision of the Depression muddied by the passage of a decade. Andersen is, if nothing else, a controversialist. He despises a rather wide range of intellectuals, Joan Didion and Woody Allen especially. And his favorite Marlowe film is the re-make of The Long Goodbye starring Elliot Gould. Go figure.

The film is a must see, not least b/c of the discussion of the Zoot-Suit riots as a watershed for LA's Hispanic youth, and for Andersen's excavation of African-American films of the last quarter century, which show an urban LA one does not need cars, cell phones, and suburban plazas to experience.

------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor --------------------~-->
$9.95 domain names from Yahoo!. Register anything. http://us.click.yahoo.com/J8kdrA/y20IAA/yQLSAA/kqIolB/TM

RARA-AVIS home page: http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/
  Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 26 Aug 2004 EDT