Shangri-L.A.: I watch “LA Story”

Eve Tushnet | 4/23/2019 | Staff
joyy (Posted by) Level 3
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When I was in fifth grade my family and I moved briefly to Santa Monica to be with family during a difficult time. It was hard for everybody; least hard for me, but I missed home a lot. I was unhappy and acted badly. So for a long time I thought of “LA” as a place I hated–a place where I’d been unhappy even though a lot of people were very kind to me. And of course nobody will ever fault you if you say you hate LA. What’s not to hate?

Then I visited again as an adult and realized how beautiful LA is. You can still see noir in the buildings; that unchanging sunlight is noir sunlight. (Sunlight in LA is like Andy Warhol’s line about Coca-Cola: “All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good.”) Every time I go back there I like it more.

LA - Story - LA - Movies - Place

LA Story is about loving LA and being loved by it, and I’m always here for movies about loving a despised place. It’s an utterly charming 1991 Steve Martin romantic comedy in which the greatest romance is with a city. Starting with the opening credits, perfectly punctuated by the sprinklers, you can feel the movie rejoicing in the city, in all its idiocy and violence and glitz. I loved this film, for real. The “open season on the freeway” scene is the most 1990s thing you’ll ever see: cavalier, anti-moralistic, bullets whistling a happy tune. (There is only one thing that I like and that is whistling in the dark.) LA Story has a beautiful description of LA (“I’ve seen a lot of L.A. and I think it’s also a place of secrets: secret houses, secret lives, secret pleasures. And no one is looking to the outside for verification that what...
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