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Category Archives: Los Angeles

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Speed (Jan de Bont, 1994)

Speed, the quintessential Los Angeles action movie, actually comprises not one but three Los Angeles action movies, each a contest of wills between a SWAT hot-shot and an ex-LAPD mad bomber: the first high in a downtown office tower, the second in a bus careening across town on a freeway, and the third underground in […]

Skid Row, the “heart of darkness” of the astonishingly revitalized downtown Los Angeles

In the centre of one of the world’s most high-profile cities lies a concentration of desperate poverty unlike any other in the developed world. Los Angeles’s Skid Row, a common name for a once-common form of down-and-out quarter in American cities, persists as the last neighbourhood of its kind. Skid Row’s very existence illustrates a […]

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 […]