Though it appears at points to be the anti-L.A. pic made to order for the likes of Mike Davis and other harsh crix of the City of the Angels, Veit Bastian’s “Enter: A Film About Los Angeles” ultimately walks a more ambiguous path toward a multifaceted, if superficial, overview of the multicultural megalopolis. Docu made by Cologne-based Bastian eschews narration or any stated agenda, while interweaving verite-style filming with trippy, tracking-shot filmscapes that instantly link pic with fellow German Wim Wenders’ numerous impressionist takes on L.A. Pic should garner some international fest interest, but its telecast life will be strictly Euro.
Divided into 14 sections of various lengths, Bastian’s work goes for a collage effect, perhaps inspired by the wise notion that L.A. can’t possibly be covered comprehensively or by standard means. Rather, what’s observed here is inherently selective, though thevery selection process opens pic up to complaints of what is left out. Dilemma is only natural for any docu on the massive city and is somewhat accentuated by feeling that this is a distinctly German p.o.v.
Some sections, such as opener titled “Kitchen,” could take place in any city, with Bastian’s roving camera following roach-control worker Erwin Vela on his daily rounds. Though more effective as a portrait of humans under stress, later section titled “2 Months Old,” about King-Drew Medical Center nurse Bola Akinwole, could be a depiction of any big-city ER taking in gunshot victims. Final part of this collage, “Look,” observing without comment devout Christians in the desert taking photos of what they contend is a portal to heaven, has more to do with forces of mass belief than anything to do with Los Angeles.
Pic is on surer ground when it gets specific, as with the too brief “Hope,” about moms and their kids auditioning for commercials and, maybe, stardom. In “This Is You,” Bastian is at his best, simply recording a hilarious exchange as World Model Talent Agency head Jim South explains pay rates to an aspiring model-thesp for porn-pic acting (“It depends on whether you’re talking about boy-girl, girl-girl, boy-girl-girl … “). Seg titled “2” is brief but an effectively abstract visit to a techno rave in the San Gabriel Mountains, a landscape strongly contrasting with the streetscapes that clearly fascinate Bastian (who enlisted Cornelia Buschbell to fashion a lens producing a kaleidoscope-like mirroring effect as the camera prowls streets in a moving car).
Vet L.A. watchers may find much to carp at here — freeway culture, the local cops and gangs, Hollywood, the abundant cultural scenes are largely absent — but they also may be impressed by some privileged moments: An art collector couple shows Bastian their marvelous gallery of sculptural works by late, great L.A. artist Ed Kienholz, while cameras take us to the often-shadowy world of cockfighting and, in deep L.A. mode, along for a wild ride with freelance cameraman Stoo Mundel speeding to a latenight fire or crime scene. Mundel’s moral judgment seems to be questioned in his filming of a car chase suspect shooting himself, yet Bastian, in a bit of sensationalism of his own, chooses to include Mundel’s footage.
Sections are connected by visual segues including unremarkable helicopter footage and pastel-colored seascapes that suggest a profound natural environment on the edge of the concrete city. Tech work is above par, with music cues that seem the most Wenders-like stroke of all.