This film was a gift to me. I make no claims for it, nor do I offer any apologies. It comes from work on The Thoughts That Once We Had. There was one shot we had to cut whose loss I particularly regretted. It was a shot of a train pulling into Tokyo Station from Ozu’s The Only Son (1936). So I decided to make a film around this shot, an anthology of train arrivals. It comprises 26 scenes or shots from movies, 1904-2015. It has a simple serial structure: each black & white sequence in the first half rhymes with a color sequence in the second half. Thus the first shot and the final shot show trains arriving at stations in Japan from a low camera height. In the first shot (The Only Son), the train moves toward the right; in the last shot, it moves toward the left. A bullet train has replaced a steam locomotive. So after all these years, I’ve made another structural film, although that was not my original intention.
– Thom Andersen
An opening title card from director Thom Andesen’s new feature film, The Thoughts That Once We Had, directly identifies the cinematic writings of philosopher Gilles Deleuze as the project’s primary subject and inspiration. Deleuze’s two volumes on film, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image (1983) and Cinema 2: The Time-Image (1985), are today synonymous with a certain modernist school of thought that, while integrated in academia to such a degree as to be all but understood, remains quite radical. Unquestionably dense and provocatively pedantic, the French empiricist’s filmic texts integrate an array of theories and conceptualizations into a fairly delineated taxonomy, and are therefore fairly conducive to Andersen’s established approach to essay filmmaking—and particularly to the director’s latest, which finds him deliberating on Deleuzian dogma while charting an alternate, personal path through film history. Continue reading
Although he has been limited to bit parts, actor Tony Longo is an axiom of American action cinema: the giant who is too softhearted for the job. Composed of three short movies, “Hey, Asshole!,” “Adam Kesher” and “You Fucking Dickhead!,” The Tony Longo Trilogy brings together all of the actor’s scenes in three of his most memorable films: “The Takeover” (Troy Cook, 1995), “Living in Peril” (Jack Ersgard, 1997) and “Mulholland Dr.” (David Lynch, 2001).
L.A. Times Review (exerpt):
By Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Plays Itself’
The metropolis is exposed in a clip-laden documentary about its role in cinema, classic and otherwise.
It is a remarkable work, quite likely the best documentary on the City of Angels ever made…
…Thom Andersen’s 2-hour, 49-minute “Los Angeles Plays Itself,” a cinematic essay/meditation and labor of love on how this city has been depicted on the screen. Smart, insightful, unapologetically idiosyncratic and bristling with provocative ideas, it’s as sprawling and multi-faceted, fascinating and frustrating as L.A. (an abbreviation Andersen despises) itself.
…the heart of “Los Angeles Plays Itself” (and the reason why a commercial release is problematic) is brilliant and extensive use of clips from a hoard of feature films.
Starting with a startling opening shot of distraught stripper Sugar Torch running on a downtown street, from Sam Fuller’s “Crimson Kimono,” through a closing segment on the black independent films “Bush Mama,” “Killer of Sheep” and “Bless Their Little Hearts,” Andersen serves up segments of more than 200 films, from 1913’s “A Muddy Romance” through 2001’s “Hanging Up.” Truly, as the voice-over read by fellow independent filmmaker Encke King suggests, this has to be the most photographed city in the world. Continue reading
Get Out of the Car is a response to my last movie, Los Angeles Plays Itself. I called Los Angeles Plays Itself a ‘city symphony in reverse’ in that it was composed of fragments from other films read against the grain to bring the background into the foreground. Visions of the city’s geography and history implicit in these films were made manifest. Continue reading