Dream Factory

In Los Angeles, the fantasy and the reality of the movies live side by side.

El Capitan Theater Liana Jegers

Los Angeles has an inferiority complex when it comes to film appreciation—anyone will tell you that. The hang-up is exacerbated by comparisons with New York, where repertory cinemas abound and there seems to be a Bresson retrospective in constant rotation. We undoubtedly lack a festival culture; the city has reportedly only ever screened a full Cannes lineup once, in 1974. The best film critics all live in New York; really, the entire critical infrastructure is there. It can be a real quest to find new releases from outside the United States in this “AMC-dominated multiplex environment,” as programmer K.J. Relth-Miller put it to me when we spoke in October.

A strange bifurcation tends to arise in these conversations: LA produces, New York consumes. LA creates; New York appraises, judges, critiques. That sense was only heightened, during the spring and summer of 2023, by the simultaneous strikes of SAG-AFTRA and the WGA. The country has learned of the nitty-gritty contract details of both unions: the way they use digital technology and artificial intelligence; the che…

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