Early in Los Angeles Plays Itself, Thom Anderson’s amazing film about the city that never sleeps because we’re always dreaming about it, the narrator, who is supposed to be Anderson but is also something like God, says one of those things that is so obviously true that the hearer may have the paradoxical experience of satisfaction at an epiphany of something we already knew colliding with the surprise that we hadn’t figured it out before: ’If we can appreciate documentary films for their dramatic qualities, perhaps we can appreciate fiction films for their documentary revelations’. This is certainly the case when it comes to emotional truth (Braveheartwas shot partly in Ireland, but still quickens the hearts of Scots; so was Saving Private Ryan for that matter, but it inspired mass catharsis among veterans of the Normandy landings); but it’s unquestionably profound for films actually made in places we know. I have a theory about this.

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