A treat for both film fans and Los Angeles-ologists, Thom Andersen’s compendious polemic on the various inflictions and infractions that Hollywood (the motion-picture industry) has visited upon its host city posits itself as ‘a city symphony in reverse’ – a collage of documentary insights trawled from the world of features. Andersen’s beady sweep spans Laurel and Hardy and Maya Deren, ‘Chinatown’ and ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Death Wish 4’ and the 1958 Native American drama ‘The Exiles’ – over 200 films are quoted in all, offering both illustration and refuge when Andersen’s orneriness threatens to overwhelm his crisp perspicuity. (The style recalls his fellow Angelino Mike Davis’s literary excavations of the city.) ‘The architectural trophy-house is the modern equivalent of the black hat or the moustache,’ he observers of Hollywood’s ‘war against modern architecture’; and of the movies’ appetite for destruction: ‘Whenever the legitimacy of authority is questioned, Hollywood responds by coming up with disaster movies’ – a reminder of how foolish and pathetic we are. Fascinating.
Friday December 10 2004