• A prequel to Das Boot?

On Saturday night at the Nightingale and on Sunday at Chicago Filmmakers in Andersonville, White Light Cinema will present the 1972 hardcore feature L.A. Plays Itself from a new 2K digital restoration. The film covers a variety of approaches in its 55-minute running time, at first coming off as experimental collage (with artful superimpositions of pastoral imagery that recall Maya Deren’s work) before expanding into documentary (in its portrait of Los Angeles neighborhoods and subculture) and finally something resembling performance art (with an extended—and oddly aestheticized—demonstration of gay S&M rituals). Director Fred Halsted maintains an impressionistic style throughout, cutting between landscapes and bodies for poetic rather than narrative effect; his combinations of sound and image are striking as well. (And his portrait of L.A. subculture was strong enough to inspire Thom Andersen’s monumental film-history documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself.)