Los Angeles Plays Itself is a video essay by Thom Andersen, finished in 2003, exploring the way Los Angeles has been presented in movies. Consisting almost entirely of clips from other films with narration, the film was not initially released commercially. The film was only seen in screenings presented by Andersen, occasional presentations at American Cinematheque and copies distributed via filesharing and other person-to-person methods. In 2014, it was announced that the film would finally be released officially by Cinema Guild.
Andersen stated that the film idea occurred to him after a lecture he gave at the California Institute of the Arts, where he talked about his objections to L.A. Confidential, the 1997 Curtis Hanson film adapted from James Ellroy's novel.
In the film, Andersen argues that the influence of Hollywood overshadows Los Angeles and one of the reasons the city is frequently abbreviated. He makes the case that directors have a distate for modernist architecture, which is regularly used for villain's homes.