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Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Crash (Paul Haggis, 2004)

Crash drew great acclaim, up to and including an Academy Award for Best Picture, as a searing and incisive examination of racial tension and prejudice in Los Angeles, yet I’ve never met an Angeleno who likes it. Its indictment of the city — not, of course, a “real” city — as a tinderbox of incomprehension and resentment had genuine currency before the 1992 riots; it just had the bad luck to come out in 2004. But maybe viewers fifty years hence will look past all this overdetermination, overacting, and general overreaching to see how the film truly illustrates the great violence done to our society not by racism, but by the automobile.

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.