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Los Angeles Plays Itself


Location la: Bartos Screening Room

With introduction by guest curator Courtney Stephens

Dir. Thom Andersen. 2003, 169 mins. Digital projection. An astonishing work of both cinematic and architectural history, Thom Andersen’s Los Angeles Plays Itself is a comprehensive and idiosyncratic valentine to the city’s real and fantasy geographies, the mirror-cities that are in a slippery and constant state of play with one another. Andersen uses hundreds of film clips to trace his incisive grievances: that the city’s modernist architectural heritage has been consistently denigrated, cast often as villains’ lairs. That shots of the downtown skyline get overused relative to its actual centrality. And he has special ire for those who foreshorten the name to L.A., as we do in this series title. As a city that unfurled in tandem with the motion picture industry, its topography and neighborhoods were consistently documented, so that fictional spaces become real records of erasure and change. The film was completed in 2003 but its release was notoriously delayed based on film clearances. As Andersen said in a recent public appearance, “the way movies foreclose the possibility of emancipatory politics has not changed.”—Courtney Stephens

Tickets: $15 ($11 seniors and students / $9 youth (ages 3–17) / free for children under 3 and Museum members at the Film Lover and Kids Premium levels and above). Order tickets online.(Members may contact with questions regarding online reservations.)

Ticket purchase includes same-day admission to the Museum (see gallery hours). View the Museum’s ticketing policy here. For more information on membership and to join online, visit our membership page.