If only I could time-travel back to pre-1920 Los Angeles for a single day, back when it was mostly pastures and farmland and dirt streets and Victorian homes and few buildings higher than two or three stories. It felt a bit opaque and rundown in the late 20th Century (the air quality was rancid in the ’70s) but it’s always been a culturally formidable town.
I haven’t compiled a long list of films that have best captured the richness and complexity, but off the top of my head I’d include Kiss Me Deadly, No Down Payment, Los Angeles Plays Itself, Barton Fink and Michael Mann‘s Heat and Collateral.
But overhead drone-photography travelogues…please. Everything looks great from “above.” If GoPro drone videos existed in the mid ’40s and you used a similar music track you could create a serene essay about gliding over Auschwitz or Dachau or Bergen-Belsen.
It’s the City of the Fallen Angels, for one thing. Unless you’re hiking or hibernating or motorcycling along Mulholland or through the winding hills above Malibu and Trancas, 90% of the Los Angeles experience is about traffic, storefronts, stoplights, gas stations, billboards and spiritual fatigue. Most of it stemming from that vague feeling of possibly being trapped here for the rest of your life. Two things make it half-tolerable: riding around on two wheels (changed my life, a whole different realm) and the blessings of using Waze.