Detective City Angel: A Film by Alessandro Cima


First, here’s a nice review and interview about the film at Dangerous Minds. Want to follow a secret identity artist through a dangerous Los Angeles as he escapes and hits like a criminal? Hang on and watch carefully. You may need to watch it 14 times to catch the drift. But you’ve probably got that kind of time anyway. This is a Los Angeles crime film. But it’s as if several films on celluloid fused together and what you end up with is an art film that gets overwhelmed by urban documentary and then collapses into a narrative thriller. It’s filled with hints, clues, evidence and misdirection. Images, ideas and sounds bounce off each other, mirror each other. There are secrets in this film. You have to watch carefully, through layers to catch things. I’ve tried to make a film that moves like disjointed thoughts toward the preordained ending. Continue reading

Behind The Wall: The Battle for LA’s Murals

Oliver Riley-Smith made this short documentary about the disappearing mural art of Los Angeles. It features a prominent muralist complaining about how murals have been ‘bludgeoned by graffiti’ and ‘censored by the city.’ Perhaps so. The city does make it difficult to get permits for murals. But I don’t really like murals. They tend to be stiff and unoriginal. I like the murals that have been vandalized by the graffiti artists. Sorry but I do. They are much more interesting than the clean murals which are entirely unimaginative and offer nothing to move art in any direction whatsoever. If muralists want to preserve their images, they should paint indoors. Look at the mural on the highway underpass wall that’s covered with graffiti at the 42 second mark in the film. Beautiful. Much better than the mural ever was. The muralist in the film says, ‘Museums are for the dead. I want life.’


There’s a guy in this film called ‘Ghost One.’ I like what he says about art.  He’s realistic and open to whatever comes along.  He says that taggers mark up murals because they assume that their marks will have more longevity that way. That’s a very interesting thought. An artists seeks longevity by making his mark inside the work of another artist. Fascinating. Much more interesting than the murals. Such thinking shows possibility.

But then the film draws the two sides together and our muralist says he ‘hopes our two styles can work together.’ Well, they can’t really, but it’s a nice thought.

Los Angeles to Ease Restrictions on Murals

The Los Angeles Times reports that the City Council is easing its restrictions on outdoor murals.  It will no longer classify them the same way it does billboards.  Since 2002 it has been illegal to paint a mural on private or public property because the artworks are considered advertisements.  But Los Angeles is going to try to do a better job of distinguishing between the two.

Of course this will all get muddled again as soon as an artist paints a figure holding a can of Coke!  Is it art or is it an ad?  As a rule though, it is never difficult to tell when something is a giant ad and when it’s not.  It just takes a little common sense and observation.  Surely the City Council can manage this.

But the bottom line is that the murals of L.A. are inspiring and extraordinary.  The city needs to reclaim its title as ‘The Mural Capital of the World!’

The photo is a portion of a photo by Al Seib for the Los Angeles Times,  April 6, 2011.