More Mill Valley Movies: New Orleans, Laurel Canyon, & the Chicago 7

Since the drive-in experience, I’ve been watching Mill Valley Film Festival movies from the comfort of my couch. So far, I’ve seen two musical documentaries and two films about the 1960s – and I only saw three movies.

A Take Me to the River New Orleans

Here’s one documentary that will make you tap your feet. Director Martin Shore focuses on funk, rock, and (near the end) rap, giving us a tasty helping of music. Most of the film was shot in recording studios, as tunes get created and recorded, and the film often plays songs from beginning to end. There’s also some city history, including Hurricane Katrina. The musicians strongly believe that musical culture must continue from generation to generation. The performers include The Neville Brothers, Ani DiFranco, Snoop Dogg, and a lot of adorable and talented children who may one day be famous. This is the second excellent documentary about music in New Orleans this year (the other is Up From The Streets – New Orleans: The City Of Music), and both are worth watching.

You can stream this doc until the festival closes Sunday. I suspect it will be streaming elsewhere afterwards. I hope so.

B+ Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time

Alison Ellwood’s long, two-part documentary follows the LA music scene of the 60s and early 70s. If you love the music of that time (and it was the time of my adolescence), you’ll enjoy it immensely. Most of the musicians covered in the film (including Joanie Mitchell, David Crosby, and Jim Morrison), lived in the titular canyon, which Ellwood uses as a center point for the wide-ranging story. The film mostly treats the music and counterculture as something positive, but it also deals with such negative issues as sexism, cocaine, and the Manson Family. Great music plays throughout the film.

Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time only streamed at the Festival Thursday night. But it’s already streaming on Epix.

A- The Trial of the Chicago 7

Another movie set in my adolescence, but this time, it’s not a documentary. Aaron Sorkin’s suspenseful courtroom drama, based on actual events, takes you back to another time when another president was getting out of hand. The Nixon administration set out to make an example of arresting seven members of the new left, and the trial became major news for months. The judge went in ready to throw the book at the hippies, yippies, and Panthers, and never changed his mind. Meanwhile, some of the defendants – especially Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin (and Jeremy Strong) – set out to turn the courtroom into a clown show. Dramatic, historical, and sometimes hysterical. Other recognizable actors in the film include Eddie Redmayne, John Carroll Lynch, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Frank Langella, and Michael Keaton.

Via the Festival, you can only stream The Trial of the Chicago 7 today (Saturday) at 6:00, as part of the Aaron Sorkin Spotlight Conversation. You can also watch it on Netflix. That’s how I watched it.

One thought on “More Mill Valley Movies: New Orleans, Laurel Canyon, & the Chicago 7

  1. Lincoln, it’s worth mentioning that, even though Joni Mitchell’s image is used to sell the film, the place in the story where she should have appeared is oddly empty. She is not interviewed and is scarcely mentioned by others. My guess is that the film’s makers were unsuccessful in their attempts to involve her in the production, so they had to work around her, leaving a strange vacuum in a film about the denizens of Laurel Canyon. This was, after all, the woman who served as muse to virtually all the people who were interviewed, and who named one of her most successful albums “Ladies of the Canyon”. In fact, she is not the only significant person notable by her absence. On the other hand, because of his willingness to be interviewed frequently and at length, the film ends up really being more like “David Crosby and friends”.
    So, yes: worth seeing, but don’t blink or you’ll miss Joni. I get the feeling she’s put all that behind her, along with the music she made.

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