Universal acclaim - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. 88
    So terrifically entertaining, it would be a shame if it didn't inspire a companion piece on New York.
  2. Gliding from the physical to the metaphysical, Andersen reveals how films like ''Chinatown'' effectively remade the reality of Los Angeles, replacing history with myth in a way that now anchors the city more than that history itself does.
  3. What gives Los Angeles Plays Itself its extraordinary density is the way Andersen transforms a cliché into a metaphysical truth that encompasses far more than L.A.
  4. 100
    It is a remarkable work, quite likely the best documentary on the City of Angels ever made.
  5. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Thom Andersen's idiosyncratic, three-hour masterpiece is both a dazzling work of film criticism and a fascinating piece of urban anthropology.
  6. 90
    Dazzling cinema-essay.
  7. What Andersen does best is capture the sense of growing up and living among the landmarks of Hollywood's authentic back lot.
  8. 75
    Gives us a fresh way to think not only about movies but about the town in which so many of them are made, and in that regard it's kind of amazing.
  9. The commentary alternates between witty insight and opinionated bunk, but it's always fun -- and a must-see for movie buffs.
  10. Los Angeles Plays Itself, in spite of its length, is rarely tedious, an achievement it owes mainly to the movies it prodigiously excerpts.
  11. A terrific cinematic essay that will have a very, very long shelf life.
  12. 80
    It is an essay in film form with near-universal interest and a remarkable degree of synthesis.
  13. 90
    Three words of advice to those who haven't yet seen it: Run, don't walk. Composed of excerpts from hundreds of locally shot movies past and present -- from grade-A prestige pictures to unrepentant grade-Z schlock -- Los Angeles Plays Itself serves as Andersen's exhaustive but never exhausting attempt to reconcile the myriad identities of the world's moviemaking capital.
  14. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Dec 31, 2013
    Andersen makes humorous hay out of the stark home designs of Richard Neutra — only suitable, it seems, for drug dealers.
  15. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    Los Angeles may be the most photographed city in the world, but it has never have been captured with such complex layers of meaning and fascination as in Thom Andersen's remarkable Los Angeles Plays Itself.
  16. Reviewed by: Nick De Semlyen
    Andersen makes a far from inspiring guide, intoning his humourless points in a dry-as-powder monotone.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 13 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 9
  2. Negative: 3 out of 9
  1. Aug 25, 2014
    Los Angeles Plays Itself is one of those films that made me ask, "I don't get it." A barrage of fun clips with uninteresting and quite vapidLos Angeles Plays Itself is one of those films that made me ask, "I don't get it." A barrage of fun clips with uninteresting and quite vapid commentary. A blank. Full Review »
  2. Nov 3, 2014
    The whole idea of this 2.5 hr documentary-like film is to explore how Los Angeles is portrayed in movies. There was obviously some work putThe whole idea of this 2.5 hr documentary-like film is to explore how Los Angeles is portrayed in movies. There was obviously some work put into collecting and categorizing the countless clips from films, as well as matching the names, dates, and locations portrayed in them. That being said, there really isn't too much else here aside from a random run through historical film locations. I really wanted to like this film, but I got about an hour in before it just became frustrating. The whole time, the narrator seems like he is trying to set up some kind of profound message or theme about how Los Angeles is portrayed, but the narrator simply seems to loathe *everything* about movies, which is an odd characteristic for someone who has apparently made an entire 2.5 hour film about movies.

    The narration is extremely dry in a way that is an obvious attempt to sound intelligent, but comes across as depressed and bored. There is absolutely no joy or excitement in talking at you. Instead, it is an absolute chore to try and bring you up to speed about the obvious inadequacies of every movie everywhere. But, if you actually listen to what he has to say, there is so much contraction in the messages that one cannot help but become frustrated at it. At various times, the narrator complains about movies in the following ways: how they are too unrealistic, how they are too realistic, how they recycle the same locations, how they take creative liberties with their locations, how they don't portray ordinary everyday life but rather focus on exciting sequences and stories, how there is too much violence, and how they are sometimes exciting. Yes, there is a lot of complaining about how violence and sex and destruction are common topics of movies set in Los Angeles (as if these were not common topics in movies set anywhere in the world as well). The opinions just become obtuse and ridiculous. At one point, the narrator tried to convince me that Paris, unlike Los Angeles, has escaped the scourge of cinema portrayal (I mean, really?). The whole things feels like it is trying to have some kind of profound message from this collection of names, dates, and locations, but it all boils down to this: Movies suck because they don't accurately portray ordinary life and there is too much unrealistic violence, sex, and destruction in Movies filmed in Los Angeles. There is one interesting segment showing how various films used the same locations to portray different environments, but otherwise there is a lot of opinions being thrown around which are mostly absurd. .
    Full Review »
  3. KellyP.
    Mar 29, 2006
    if you have any interest in film or cities you must see this film.