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Arts and Entertainment

'L.A. Plays Itself' To Screen At The Aero On Sunday

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On Sunday, seminal documentary-cum-video-essay Los Angeles Plays Itself will screen at the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre, followed by a discussion with filmmaker Thom Andersen.

Andersen's magnum opus is, as Variety described it, an "encyclopedic, sardonic valentine to his adopted hometown and how it has been represented."

Los Angeles Plays Itself grew out of a lecture delivered by Andersen at CalArts, where he has long taught. The 2003 documentary explores the way Los Angeles has been portrayed on film through an epic sampling of hundreds of clips, lending a rambling, collage-like feel. Andersen assembled the clips without proper clearances, meaning that the film was never properly released in theaters and wasn't available on DVD until relatively recently. The scarcity helped build the cult-like status and mystique of the film (the first time I ever saw Los Angeles Plays Itself was a pirated copy burned onto a DVD by a friend of a friend and mailed to my college dorm room). But even though the landmark documentary is now available on DVD, there is no better way to see it the nearly three-hour film than in a real theater, on the big screen.

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Once lauded by Kenneth Turan as "the best documentary ever made about Los Angeles," Los Angeles Plays Itself has been re-edited and re-mastered on the occasion of its tenth anniversary.

"Los Angeles Plays Itself" will screen at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Aero, followed by a conversation with director Thom Andersen. Tickets are $12 and available here. The Aero is located at 1328 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.

Related: The Best Documentary About Los Angeles You've Never Seen Is Finally Coming Out On DVD