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Talk at San Diego State University: “The Urban Future on Film” (2/14/19)

“Los Angeles is the city of the future,” the old joke goes, “and it always will be.” Certainly that holds true on film, where the southern Californian metropolis has been put to every possible cinematic end. Filmmakers have used Los Angeles to recreate the past, to portray the present, and most memorably to envision the future. The Japan-infused 2019 Los Angeles of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, first released in 1982, has ever since shaped the way we imagine urban dystopia; more recently, Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited sequel Blade Runner 2049 intensified and diversified the look and feel of the original to suit our present moment. What makes Los Angeles, even in more utopian futuristic movies like Spike Jonze’s Her, such a rich collection of materials for urban futures — and why has the presence of Asia, as well as the characteristics of Asian cities, nearly always been essential to those futures?

I’ll address these and other questions about Los Angeles’ urban future on film, both utopian and dystopian, at San Diego State University on Thursday, February 14 at 5:00 p.m. in Hepner Hall, Room 214. My talk comes as part of Futures Past & Present, at art show at SDSU’s Downtown Gallery considering “not only how the future has been forecast in the past, but also how our present reality will inform what is yet to come.”