The Movie Drought’s Over: Echo in the Canyon

Echo in the Canyon written by Eric Barrett and Andrew Slater (who also directed the doc) is a glorious celebration of the California music scene in Laurel Canyon in the late 60’s and 70’s.

You know a documentary is great when you have no relation to the concept and yet you’re still enraptured. My first trip to California wasn’t until I was in my 40’s. And I was probably about the same age when I first awakened to Brian Wilson.

And thank God I did AND was smart enough to get to Van Wezel for his Pet Sounds concert a few years back. As Tom Petty (God rest his soul) said in the doc, Brian Wilson may be our century’s Mozart.

But I digress. The doc had a perfect balance of old footage of the Mamas and the Papas, the Byrds, the Beatles, Stephen Stills and Neil Young (among many others) and the new concert honoring that music, starring Jakob Dylan, Beck, Fiona Apple and many more.

Also woven in were Jakob Dylan conversing and jamming with both icons of yesteryear and his newer musical friends helping him on the tribute concert.

Jakob Dylan was originally inspired by the Jaques Demy movie “Model Shop” from 1969 set in Laurel Canyon. Proof that movies can inspire anyone to create their own masterpieces. And while Jakob Dylan is most probably a giant egomaniac (given his name was the only one front and center: STARRING JAKOB DYLAN), he does have a more melodic singing voice than father Bob and is downright handsome, hence his spokesmanship in the doc was heavenly. And who better to carry on a torch than the son of an icon like Bob? I also appreciated that Bob was not a large part of this narrative, having just had the spotlight in Scorsese’s Rolling Thunder Revue.

I know I’m not the only one who watched this doc and was saddened by the contrast of our current world’s frenetic life style. I hope my son, a beautiful spirit whose passion is music, has time and like minded musical comrades to get together and just hang, play cheer on and compose. But I’m praying that making ends meet and the stupid number of distractions in our world don’t inhibit his dream.

A must see in my book and I’ll definitely take in a second helping when and if Echo in the Canyon goes to Parkway 8.

“The Fall of the Amercian Empire”, Denys Arcand is only half Woke

I’m new to Denys Arcand, having just seen “The Fall of the American Empire” at Burns Court. The film was stimulating enough that I’ll check out his earlier work.

I’ll probably start with the Academy Award winner from 2003 “The Barbarian Invasion” (which won the Oscar for best foreign film in 2003), but I’m also intrigued with “The Decline of the American Empire” from 1986 referred to as the French’s Big Chill which won accolades at Cannes.

So, I’m assuming, given his movie titles, Arcand has a bit of a fixation about the United States and from “The Fall of the American Empire” I assume he sees us (or U.S. in this case) as the ne’er do well older brother who has corrupted their (Canadian) morals.

If Arcand movie is based at all in reality, Canada seems to be a mess; rampant homelessness, political and police collusion, gang warfare and an overall ennui. And much like Wall Street, the movie seems to be chagrin about wealth and that if greed’s not at least good, then it sure gets you out of legal problems.

I did not appreciate the gratuitous violence (two really graphic scenes), and I was also offended about his racist take on African Americans. Perhaps Arcand justifies this due to his sympathy for indigenous people and for homeless, but two rights don’t make a wrong in my book.

The film’s other cliche was the whore with the heart of gold (played by the gorgeous Marpier Morin), but again, Arcand balances this by having an intelligent male who becomes the Robin Hood hero (well acted by Alexandre Landry) and a sly old ex-con (played by Remy Girard) in a plot that is super complex. Again, Arcand seems to be half Woke, or to sound more grammatically correct half awake. one thing’s for certain, he holds no favor for politicians or the police.

To compare another French film of recent viewing, “The Fall of the American Empire” is far better even with its flaws, than the fluff of “Non-Fiction”.

“Yesterday”, I Had A Headache

Yesterday is an awkward film that actually displays more about what’s wrong with society all the while thinking that it’s cute. Hence, my headache, but like a heart ache since I know many male bashers will find this charming, and I say nearly choking, romantic.

First, in an age where we’re allegedly embracing globalism, why the heck can’t the actor, Himesh Patel, obviously of Indian descent, be given a character name of that ilk. In my mind, the whiter than white name Jack Malik is an absolute slap in the face.

Second, I didn’t believe Lily James’ performance as a pouting, ‘why don’t you make a move on me’, galloping Airedale terrier for one millisecond. If her character’s mixed messages weren’t the poster child for the growing number of emotionally abused men, I’ll eat my Queen Elizabeth hat.

And I truly thought Kate McKinnon was ‘going places’ given her extreme comedic talent on SNL, but she keeps taking crap role after crap role in films. Here she plays an even worse misandrist than Lily James. To my utter chagrin, folks were giggling at her put downs of Himesh’s appearance.
If Himesh’s character had been a female, #Metoo heads would have broken the internet.

So here’s the real message Yesterday gave us:
1. People these days are too distracted to even recognize a profound song (this should have been the through line (instead of the gag reflex cutesie Ed Sheeran and Jame Cordon schlock) and hence a great social commentary on society).
2. Women get to do and act however they want; cruel, ‘confused’ and men will fold and become their “wife guys”, (a new term, see the NYT article about it).
3. Coco Cola and Cigarettes killed John Lennon (see the film and you’ll get my drift here).
4. Parents are bumbling idiots.
5. A screenwriter evidently doesn’t have to answer questions about why people forgot their memory about just a few cultural icons, but others remain intact.

“Hey Miley, what’s good?” You (and Nicki Minaj) ask?

Well, Himish Patel was the best actor of the lot and has a excellent singing voice as well. Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis should get back to the drawing board to redeem themselves. And the CineBistro (aka end of the Roman Empire, people gorging themselves while reclining) Theater probably got my last $27 (ticket and popcorn) because people act like they do in their bedrooms; chatting, texting, and getting up to use the facilities way too often. But super fitting considering the silly movie on screen.

Go ahead and see Yesterday, but lower your bar to something not even a contortionist limbo dancer could fit under.