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Category Archives: Los Angeles

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)

Like Walter Hill’s The Driver back in 1978, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive opens with a downtown car chase, though it swaps out the Ryan at the wheel: this time it’s Gosling instead of O’Neal, but he still pays the Driver, a getaway man of few words and many strict professional guidelines. This Driver, however, operates […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: The Limey (Steven Soderbergh, 1999)

Englishmen have come to Los Angeles since it first qualified as a city, and another one comes in The Limey. Wilson, a London thief just out of jail, comes to town to investigate and possibly avenge the mysterious death of his daughter. The trail leads Wilson, played by icon of 60s British cinema Terence Stamp, […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Night of the Comet (Thom Eberhardt, 1984)

Pitched between comedy, horror, and disaster, those reliable Los Angeles genres, Night of the Comet manages, in its thoroughly 1980s sensibility, to be at once the parody and the thing parodied. In it, two Valley-girl sisters who happen to survive the passing of a nearly humanity-extincting comet must contend with zombies, thugs, survivalist scientists, and […]

Notebook on Cities and Culture S4E67: Extremely Permanent with Doug Pray

Beneath the rock of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Colin Marshall talks with documentarian Doug Pray, maker of such films as Hype! on the Seattle 1990s grunge scene, Infamy on graffiti artists, Surfwise on Doc Paskowitz’s traveling family, and Art & Copy on the advertising industry. His new Levitated Mass examines the complicated movement of the rock all the way […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Model Shop (Jacques Demy, 1969)

By the late 1960s, some Angelenos had already written their city off. But the European filmmakers who’d only just started to find material there hadn’t; Jacques Demy, for instance, still found Los Angeles a place of sun, sky, youth, cars, and, given the era, counterculture — a place of pure potential. Model Shop, an early […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (John Cassavetes, 1978)

The 1970s grotesque of John Cassavetes Los Angeles gangster action movie takes place not in the margins of the city, but in a city made up of nothing but margins: mediocre eateries, empty gas stations, parking garages, and the strip club owned by its businessman-turned-hitman protagonist. Tasked with finding and killing the titular “Chinese bookie” […]

Notebook on Cities and Culture S4E54: The Freedom to Be Foolish with Mark Frauenfelder

Colin Marshall sits down in Studio City with Mark Frauenfelder, founder of the popular zine-turned-blog Boing Boing, founding co-editor of Make magazine, and author of Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects. They discuss whether he still thinks about Los Angeles dingbat apartments, and the extent to which their owners have […]

Notebook on Cities and Culture S4E53: A Certain Inertia with James Steele

Colin Marshall sits down at the University of Southern California with School of Architecture professor James Steele, author of many books on architecture and architects, including, just over twenty years ago, Los Angeles Architecture: The Contemporary Condition. They discuss the how the city’s conflict with “autopia” has gone since then; the obsolescence of not just the freeways, but […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: “Strange Days” (Kathryn Bigelow, 1995)

Strange Days counts as a Los Angeles movie, a hard-boiled detective movie, a cyberpunk movie, and a “social issues” movie, all of which came out in the shadow of the city’s 1992 riots. In an ideal setting for the subgenre’s mixture of “high tech and low life,” gentleman-loser protagonist Lenny Nero deals in pure neural […]

Notebook on Cities and Culture S4E52: The Big Pond with Pete Mitchell

Colin Marshall sits down in Pasadena with Pete Mitchell, visual artist, game designer, zombie enthusiast, and lead singer and co-founder of the band No More Kings, whose latest album III came out this year. They discuss now as an opportune time to be into zombies; how his mom got him into not just zombie movies […]