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“Los Angeles Plays Itself”

Near the end of Thom Andersen’s three-hour meditation on the cinematic identity of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Plays Itself, we are thrust into the city aswarm with the real life problems that most working class Americans confront daily. Billy Woodberry’s low-budget, documentary style, black and white drama, Bless Their Little Hearts, along with Charles Burnett’s, Killer of Sheep, affords us a glimpse into the African-American, blue-collar lives that are an antipode to what we have seen in the rest of the film—Andersen’s kaleidoscopic examination of Los Angeles as a journey through our shared cultural and cinematic fantasies on the streets, in the homes, and at the public spaces of a city whose identity is never fixed, but is an always unreeling drama.

In the final scene of Bless Their Little Hearts, Charlie Banks (Nate Hardman) is driven in his battered pickup truck past the closed Goodyear Tire factory where his fellow South Central workers had once been employed. Andersen’s narration over Woodberry’s final images intones,

Built in 1919 and closed in 1980, the Goodyear factory on south Central Avenue was the first and largest of the four major tire-manufacturing plants once located in the Los Angeles area. Once upon a time, visitors could take a guided tour and see how tires were made, just as today they can take a studio tour and see how movies are made.

Jump to read the rest of Part One and watch the film → → → (Part Two, next week.)

Re-posted with permission.

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