Thursday, May 04, 2006

Los Angeles Plays Itself

This evening I went to Hollywood and Highland with my friends Kip, JR, and Ryan. We had dinner at the Pig N Whistle, a delicious shepherd's pie, and then me JR, and Ryan continued on to watch this really interesting movie at a historic theater in Hollywood called the Egyptian Theater. The movie, Los Angeles Plays Itself is a documentary about the depiction of the city Los Angeles in film. Here is a review of the film.

There were a number of commentaries made about the city, and the film brought several nuggets to the screen for me. While it was interesting, I don't know if I would give it a high recommendation. Unless you were living in the Los Angeles area, it probably wouldn't have a lot of meaning. He starts off the lengthy (169 minutes) film with the comment, "people become movie stars as a substitute for achievement." As a native Angelino, it appears he doesn't like the instant association the city has with movies. 2.5% of the population of the city is involved in the industry--that was a pretty shocking statistic for me. One in forty people are involved in the industry. So it seems that no matter where you go in the city, you are probably going to run into someone who works in film. There are several million people here too!

I really like the title of the movie. Multiple meanings maybe? Los Angeles, stars in films as itself. Or, Los Angeles makes a mockery of itself on the screen. The producer hasn't been offered an opportunity to play the thing in any theatres in the area, otehr than the Egyptian, which seems to specialize in independent films.

The film did get me thinking though. He marked the trend to sell out the downtown area of Los Angeles to developers who have brought in skyscrapers and corporate chains. I believe this trend is being repeated all over the country even today. Downtowns are being "revitalized" by bringing in bigger businesses. The maker of the film seemed to be a bit suspicious of the developers who gutted out downtown areas for the sake of development. In essence, they have rid the city of much of what makes it unique.

While I understand his lament, as I look out a window in East Hollywood on Hollywood Blvd. I can't help but think that it would take much more than this gesture to get rid of Los Angeles' uniqueness. I ahve never been anywhere that even remotely compares. Smog and palm trees, movie stars and freaks (I wonder if I should separate those categories), concrete and plastic, neon sprawl and ocean vistas, Los Angeles is definitely a unique place in the world.

What gives the town where you live it's uniqueness?

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