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Category Archives: Los Angeles

Finding the Korea in California and the California in Korea

A few minutes’ walk from the apartment I rented on my first trip to Seoul, I happened upon a branch of the Novel Cafe, a restaurant I know well from my life in Los Angeles (though the ones back home don’t advertise “California Cuisine since 1999″). Then, a few blocks later, came a shop called […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Southland Tales (Richard Kelly, 2006)

Southland Tales has endured many accusations, but never of playing it safe. By turns a satire, farce, polemic, zeitgeist movie, musical, and apocalypse narrative, Richard Kelly’s rich and paranoid follow-up to Donnie Darko also grounds itself in Los Angeles cinema. It tells an even more Philip K. Dickian tale than Blade Runner and ties itself […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955)

Los Angeles noirs don’t come much noirer than Kiss Me Deadly, Robert Aldrich’s adaptation of a Mickey Spillane bestseller that transplants the story from New York and boils it even harder by turning its private detective protagonist Mike Hammer into a sociopath as thuggish as the criminals around him. An ill-considered pickup of a hitchhiker […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Brother (Takeshi Kitano, 2000)

On January 25, 2015 Colin and “The City in Cinema” come live to Portland, Oregon’s Hollywood Theatre – for details and tickets, visit hollywoodtheatre.org In the mid-1990s, Takeshi Kitano, who made his name in Japan as a television comedian, broke into the west as an auteur. Did it with Sonatine, a tale of a Tokyo yakuza exiled […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: The Crimson Kimono (Samuel Fuller, 1959)

On January 25, 2015 Colin and “The City in Cinema” come live to Portland, Oregon’s Hollywood Theatre – for details and tickets, visit hollywoodtheatre.org Samuel Fuller’s very late noir The Crimson Kimono essays the insider-outsider Los Angeles buddy cop picture not with space aliens, as in 1988’s Alien Nation, but with a people once treated with […]

Los Angeles, The City in Cinema: Alien Nation (Graham Baker, 1988)

Alien Nation, a film about extraterrestrials who arrive on Earth and struggle to integrate into American life, never won any awards for allegorical subtlety. But this otherwise by-the-book buddy cop picture does capture the texture of a certain highly unglamorous Los Angeles rarely explored on screen to this degree. As you’d expect, it also has […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Her (Spike Jonze, 2013)

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner crossed Los Angeles with a grittier, less orderly Tokyo. Just over thirty years later, Spike Jonze’s Her crosses Los Angeles with a sanitized Shanghai, creating a utopian urban setting for surely the mildest cyberpunk story ever told. Instead of menacing android replicants and detective Rick Deckard who hunts them, we have […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)

Blade Runner‘s future noir, proto-cyberpunk vision of a Los Angeles both post-industrial and re-industrial, both first-world and third-world, has remained in the more than 30 years since its unsuccessful first run the definitive image of the city’s future. Using a combination of studio backlots, scale models, matte paintings, and actual Los Angeles architectural landmarks, the […]

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, […]