According to the IMDb, Los Angeles Plays Itself had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2003. To celebrate the tenth anniversary, we thought it’d be nice to share this epic essay film with you today via the full-version YouTube (unofficially?) made available earlier this year. Directed by CalArts film professor Thom Andersen, the 169-minute work was initially going to be part of a lecture on the depiction of L.A. in cinema, but it went much longer than expected.
As someone who loves all kinds of city films and city portrayals in film (though until this I’d always focused on New York in film over Los Angeles), I couldn’t get enough of it. I just recently saw it for the first time, actually, thanks to Robert Greene recommending it in a tweet linking to the video, and afterward I wished Andersen might add the past decade’s worth of examples into the mix. I know the Bradbury Building has been used as a location quite a few times more, for instance.
Hopefully it’s okay posting this version. The film was never legitimately released due to all the clips being unlicensed, but I don’t know what that means for a free streaming version. If you prefer to see it legally — and actually both remastered and re-edited — the world premiere of that version is happening on September 20th at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Andersen will also be there on hand for a post-screening discussion, too. Yeah, actually, if you can just go to that. I would.