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This City Might Be the Most Overlooked Background Actor in the World

Tony Zhou guides viewers through the many faces of Vancouver.
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Whether you know it as the Canadian Hollywood, or the butt of jokes about it being the Canadian Hollywood, Vancouver, B.C. is one of the most prolific chameleons in the movie biz, tricking audiences into thinking it's New York, Chicago, Gotham, Tokyo, Pyongyang, or Absolutely Nowhere, U.S.A. A new film essay, Vancouver Never Plays Itself, sees Every Frame a Painting creator Tony Zhou pointing out all the familiar Vancouver landmarks in movies from Mission: Impossible and X-Men to The Interview or TRON: Legacy. Zhou and co-writer Taylor Ramos' larger statement is that Vancouver needs to build a cinematic identity of its own, as filmmaker Thom Andersen discussed about LA in Los Angeles Plays Itself, and this thesis takes the center stage as the video reaches its cinematic crescendo.


Zhou delights in pointing out what makes the masters masterful, such as Akira Kurosawa's composition, and the way David Fincher and Chuck Jones lead you through a narrative, but this falls in the same category as In Praise of Chairs, which, too, observes a larger trend that you may have fleetingly thought about but is expertly articulated by Zhou's disembodied voice.

See more of Tony Zhou's work on his website.


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