Laurel Canyon – rated – SIMMERING

When I see a film, I nearly always take notes.  In the dark.  On my Palm Pilot.  Recently, there have only been two films where I forgot to tale notes: Lord of the Rings (Part 1) and Laurel Canyon.  I wonder why?

Laurel Canyon is a very amusing film, but not satisfying, which is why I have only rated it SIMMERING. And yet it distracted me from my usual analysis, so it’s got to be worth something on that basis alone.  The director Lisa Cholodenko is talented, and is very interested in artists of all kinds, and pop as well as high culture.  Her previous film High Art (reviewed on this website under ‘Films of 2002”, is also fascinating but ultimately unsatisfying.

‘Here, the thing to savour are the performances.  First and foremost, Frances McDormand as Jane, the 45-year old record producer with a young spunky British rock star (Alessandro Nivola) as her boyfriend, Ian. Perhaps that explains my enthusiasm for the film.  She has my dream life!

Also in the cast are the increasingly-interesting Christian Bale as her son, Sam, and Kate Beckinsale as Alex, Sam’s fiancée

The mise-en-scene is so authentic: the opening shot is a wonderful tour by helicopter from downtown LA over the Hollywood Hills to the seedier, funkier parts of town, at last to Laurel Canyon and old-rock-star heaven.  There are wonderfully amusing tit-bits throughout the film, such as Jane’s photo gallery, and the old rock concert posters.  The clothes are great, too, but the film doesn’t lead anywhere interesting or say anything new.

Still, it’s an interesting trip even if the destination is disappointing.