50 fantastic films: laurel canyon (2002)
August 28, 2010, 8:37 am
Filed under: 50 fantastic films

laurel canyon director: lisa cholodenko (2002) with frances macdormand and christian bale.

went walking down to franklin street, by way of the shakespeare bridge that crosses over a lush small valley tucked in the low hills below the higher hollywood hills on the way to the los felix theater to see lisa choldenko’s current film “the kids are all right”. cholodenko is comfortable telling lazy tales about the los angeles aging hippy class. the drama is low key, her style is too. not a flashy director that usually catches pictomat’s eye, but one that seems unerring in her portrayal of the small foibles and missteps that people often fall in to.

such was the case in her previous film “laurel canyon” where frances macdormand played a record producer in her 50’s that lived life slighty closer to the edges than her visiting son, christian bale. after having just seen lucinda williams we could almost imagine macdormand’s character based on her and several 1970’s singer/songwriters who did live in laurel canyon only a few miles from the theater we now sat watching cholodenko’s latest domestic drama. “laurel canyon” was an exceptional film in that it used macdormot as a sexy, knowing, and at times perhaps reckless character that her coen brother husband doesn’t seem to see in her.

in “laurel canyon” macdormot seduces both the lead singer of a brit band she is producing, but also invites her son’s girlfriend into the cozy little threesome, with no understanding of the conflicts that might occur. it is a small, tight little movie that focuses on the l.a. music scene, and the untidiness of human behavior. it flew in and out of the theaters in 2002, but deserved more attention than it received. the same could be said for her current effort. we left the theater with l.a. under our feet and its movies whirling in our head. vermont avenue where the theater is located is now a lot like our little hood in pdx. lots of restaurants, little shops and bookstores. we walked back and looked up to the hollywood hills with it’s many canyons, famous and tucked away, but frank lloyd wright’s huge cast block, and disintegrating ennis-brown house loomed large and unstable directly above vermont, facing the city like a huge aztec ruin. we hummed joni mitchell’s “ladies of the canyon” on our walk home.


1 Comment so far
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hey, isn’t lisa cholodenko gay? yep, thought so.

nice commentary about mr coen’s lack of scope regarding his wife. she is a treasure.

“…foibles and missteps…” “…the untidiness of human behavior.” yes. you couldn’t be more spot on.

Comment by e

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