Thom Andersen's Get Out of the Car - REDCAT Theater

“Los Angeles Plays Itself” director/writer, CalArts professor, former L.A. cab driver and walking encyclopedia on all things musical and filmic, Thom Andersen presented his latest short film at the REDCAT Theater Tuesday.

As expected, the film shows a side of L.A. that Hollywood’s appropriations of the city do not, with long, thoughtful shots of neighborhoods like El Monte, Lakewood and the western San Fernando Valley. Dilapidated signs, storefronts, skylines and billboards serve as outposts to this soulful, loving mapping project (which Andersen started in the 90s, shooting off and on over ten years and finally finishing in 2009).

But it’s the music that serves as a backdrop to this film about backdrops that really impresses. Richard Berry, Johnny Otis, Leiber and Stoller, Los Tigres del Norte and Frank Zappa are just of few of the you-can’t-even-find-em-anymore gems Andersen’s got in his collection. All of them are synched-up to a few nicely shot, beautifully composed glimpses at the region and its state of existence.

It’s a simple film for Andersen, whose other pieces are arguably more polemic and agenda-driven than this ode to songs and neighborhoods he likes, through his lens. But it sure feels good to just sit back, watch and listen.

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