Thursday, May 05, 2005

LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF


Alison Veneto adds her comments to the discussion on the question, “Is There a Movie That’s In Love with Los Angeles?” over at her blog Electric Shadow, and I’ll hope to have a few more words to say on the subject too, as some of you have had some really great comments that should be highlighted and addressed. I posed the question, but I was too foggy to come up with even a decent start on an answer myself. Virgil Hilts, Thom McGregor and Blaaagh, however, wrote such thoughtful words (V.H. & T.McG are lifelong Angelenos) that they really kick-started my own thought processes and shamed me a little bit in the process with their sharp and incisive observations. Add Alison’s post, and we’ve got ourselves a pretty interesting roundtable going here, which I hope will continue.

In that light, synergy just happens, sometimes, it seems…

Alison notes that this whole discussion, though it was never intended in this way, seems to be a long lead-up to the release of Paul Haggis’ look at L.A. culture clashes entitled Crash. The movie is a sprawling character mosaic, in an Altman-esque scope, if perhaps not in style, and it’s been getting some pretty polarized reviews. David Denby in the New Yorker called Crash the strongest American movie since Mystic River, and Ella Taylor in today’s L.A. Weekly says it’s “not just one of the best Hollywood movies about race, but, along with Collateral, one of the finest portrayals of contemporary Los Angeles life, period.” (Sounds pretty appropo to our discussion here, eh?) Michael Atkinson in the Village Voice is less impressed, as I’m sure other reviewers will be when the film opens tomorrow. Such is the nature of a movie that takes on this kind of subject matter— it’s not going to please everyone. Whatever one ends up thinking about Crash, it’s nice to know that there are still movies being made and released that don’t feel that pleasing everyone is their job.

And continuing the synergistic angle, this weekend the American Cinematheque here in Los Angeles will be featuring Thom Andersen’s acclaimed documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself, which examines the ways in which the city has been portrayed throughout cinema history. Kenneth Turan writes extensively about the movie in today’s Los Angeles Times (the link requires a subscription to the print version of the paper, but for 50 cents you can get your fingers inky and read it the old-fashioned way). There’s still no information about a DVD release, though in his piece Turan suggests that one of the roadblocks to the documentary securing a wide theatrical release involves clearance for the 200+ film clips employed in the text of the film, so it's conceivable that such concerns might hang up an eventual digital release as well. For now, the Cinematheque is your best shot, if you’re here in L.A., and it’s only playing through Tuesday. Check out their schedule here to see if there’s any way you can get there and see it. If you do, I hope you check in here and tell us all about it!

1 comment:

blaaagh said...

H'mmmm...wonder how I can get to see LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF in the bay area. Looking forward to your impressions of it. As for CRASH, some people might be interested in Mick LaSalle's (SF Chronicle) review of it:
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/05/06/DDGIJCK5EB1.DTL&type=movies
--though after reading that and hearing David Edelstein's review on NPR, I dunno...still, best to judge for oneself.