June 21, 2018

Film Review: Documentary finds Lost Angels


Narrated by Catherine Keener, film expounds on Skid Row.

“Skid Row is the warden for people who cannot live in the real world,” says a subject for Thomas Napper’s documentary, Lost Angels: Skid Row is My Home. That’s saying a lot considering Skid Row is utterly surreal.

Rather than focus on crime and rampant drug use, which is the area’s calling card, Napper weaves a story around eight individuals and their devotion to their home, their recovery, and each other.

While the profiles are endearing, it’s the stats that are staggering. 11,000 residents occupy a small, 52-block section in downtown L.A. with two-thirds of them in the throes of drug addiction or mental illness. An additional one in four choose to live on the streets. As the numbers show the state of Skid Row today, Napper breaks down the origins when it was a haven for the drying out of lushes, to the mid-70s transformation with government asylums closing, effectively dumping the mentally ill into the streets.

The commentary is apt. It appears that the United States has a stigma of mental illness that borders on taboo. It’s sad but true that Los Angeles’ Twin Towers Correctional Facility also happens to be largest mental institution in North America. Since there is a lack of institutional structure, it’s harder for the general public to approach the mentally ill, not because they don’t want to, but they don’t know how.

Lost Angels: Skid Row is My Home is a gritty, realistic and humanistic look at Skid Row that is definitive of its members and community. Essential food for thought.

Starts Friday, Dec. 7, Daily 11:15a.m.; 1:15 p.m.; 3:15; 5:10; 7:10; 9:30; 11:30; at Arclight Cinemas Hollywood, 6360 W. Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA, (323) 464-4226. (www.arclightcinemas.com)

There will be Q&As with filmmakers and people featured in the film following the 7:10 p.m. show on Friday, Dec. 7 and Saturday, Dec. 8.