SXSW 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! It’s hard to wrap your head around the music of the 1960s. It’s like trying to imagine the creation of the world; it is too big to comprehend fully. Freedom and individuality were in the air. Folk music, the blues, electricity, and literature all soaked into the pop scene at once. You stack a thousand other explanations on top of those, and the sum would still be greater than the whole of its parts. Laurel Canyon: A Place In Time, a two-part documentary that takes a stream-of-consciousness approach to the music, telling a series of short stories loosely connected by a cast of familiar faces.
“…a neighborhood in Los Angeles that became the unofficial hub of America’s spontaneous response to the British Invasion.”
Those characters are the residents of Laurel Canyon, a neighborhood in Los Angeles that became the unofficial hub of America’s spontaneous response to the British Invasion. Everyone from Love, The Byrds, The Doors, Joni Mitchell, and even The Eagles called it home. It was a closed circuit of creative energy. At one point in the movie, someone refers to it as a Garden of Eden. Lions weren’t lying down with lambs, but Monkees were hanging out with Mothers of Invention, which seems like an appropriate analog.
Directed by Alison Ellwood, the documentary’s windblown attention span actually helps it chase the music. It’s like La Ronde, except you follow, say, David Crosby for a while until he has an interaction with Jackson Browne, then Browne leads you to Bonnie Raitt, and so on and so on. Every now and then, you circle back to a previous character, but the chain rarely breaks. The only outlier in the group that’s focused on is Jim Morrison, who seemed to salute a different freak flag than his neighbors.