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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 observations to make about the historical attitude of east-coast and midwest Anglo transplants to Los Angeles toward more recent Latin American and Asian arrivals. As James M. Cain put it, “trust a foreigner who got here in 1930 to haze a foreigner who got here in 1931.”

The video essays of “Los Angeles, the City in Cinema” examine the variety of Los Angeleses revealed in the films set there, both those new and old, mainstream and obscure, respectable and schlocky, appealing and unappealing — just like the city itself.

Don’t miss Portland and Los Angeles: The Cities in Cinema Live at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland, Oregon on Sunday, January 25, 2015. The Hollywood Theatre’s site has tickets and all the details.

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