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LA 92

Year: 2017
Studio: National Geographic
Director: Daniel Lindsay/TJ Martin

Having lived in Los Angeles for a short while I'm always interested in the cultural touchstones that emerged from there and became global news events. It's the reason I watched Ryan Murphy's The People vs OJ Simpson and John Ridley's agonising but slightly beautiful (maybe 'dignified' is the better word) documentary Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992.

Where that film was more about how the Rodney King incident and subsequent days of riots and destruction was the focal point for longstanding racial tensions in Los Angeles, this movie is a bit more about the incidents themselves, and although they use a lot of the same connective tissue (by virtue of the footage used, for one thing), it's saying something a little bit different from Let It Fall.

In this case, directors Daniel Lindsay and TJ Martin start with the Watts riots of the mid 60s. As the film moves through the election of Tom Bradley as Mayor and the promotion of Daryl Gates as LAPD Commissioner, then into the denser territory of Latasha Harlins, Rodney King and the South Central riots, it's purpose becomes increasingly clear.

Where Let It Fall was talking more about how inevitable the riots where after such a build-up of anger and injustice, Lindsay and Martin are commenting on hows we've all been here before, and likely will again.

There's not much to say about the unfolding of events you don't already know if you know anything about the whole case (especially if you saw Let It Fall, which tells you more than you ever knew you wanted to find out), but you'll watch it with the same hollow-throated fear that you'll see something terrible.

And whether it's the grainy CCTV footage of Soon Ja Du shooting Harlins dead, Damian Williams throwing a brick into the side of Reginald Denny's head recorded by a news chopper or dozens of other acts of violence, you do.

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