a writing and architecture workshop
Los Angeles Plays Itself is a movie about movies about a city. Thom Andersen puts together a film critiquing and revealing the way in which his home town of Los Angeles is portrayed by its most famous industry. Apart from being brilliant in its own right, Los Angeles Plays Itself is mentioned here for its intersection between language and architecture through the medium of film.
Similar to Patrick Keiller’s London, the structure of the film involves Andersen narrating a semi-monotone (but by no means unemotional) monologue over a wide-ranging montage of movies from Hollywood’s origins to the present day. However in contrast to London the roles of language and image are reversed – the narration is fact and the film extracts are fiction.
Andersen also makes reference to the meaning of names and places, describing Hollywood, “is not just a place, its also a metonym for the motion picture industry.” Interestingly he claims the movies have had an influence in the way the city names itself, “I blame them for the custom of abbreviating the city’s name to LA”. Andersen views its as, “a slightly derisive diminutive,” which, “only a city with an inferiority complex would allow”. In his eyes,”when people say LA they often mean show business,” not the city proper. The reality of Los Angeles is displaced even by its own inhabitants in favour of a limited and mythologising definition.
This though is just one aspect of a project which takes into account as many aspects of Los Angeles and cinema as there are movies filmed there. Fortunately it’s all available on youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SNc41zyLJ0&feature=relmfu