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  • Laurel Canyon

    Laurel Canyon

    ★★★½

    From Alison Ellwood (THE GO-GOS), another smoothly made, selectively candid rock documentary which, much like Andrew Slater’s ECHOES IN THE CANYON, burnishes the Laurel Canyon creativity myth of Eden put asunder by Charles Manson, Altamont, cocaine and arena/stadium tours.  Ellwood deserves credit for greater inclusiveness with portions devoted to Love, Joni Mitchell, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Little Feat and Bonnie Raitt (though the second half is slightly marred by DJ Jim Ladd’s portentous self-importance).

  • Creem: America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine

    Creem: America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine

    ★★★

    Short (75 minutes and change) documentary on the more irreverent Detroit-based cousin to Jann Wenner’s ROLLING STONE; as run by founder/original editor Barry Kramer, the magazine is portrayed here as NATIONAL LAMPOON meets WKRP IN CINCINNATI.  As with most recent documentaries, lazily falls back on  the usual cliched limited animation crap to illustrate anecdotes.  There’s also some symbolic pouring one out in memory of Lester Bangs.plus interviews with reformed sinner, now-consciously-elevated scribes such as Greil Marcus, Ann Powers, Cameron Crowe and Dave Marsh.

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  • Hitsville: The Making of Motown

    Hitsville: The Making of Motown

    ★★★

    Essentially Berry Gordy conducting his wake (with present tense and archival interviews from collaborators) while he’s still around to enjoy it.  Some great performance footage, but the Berry-centric approach means that classic Motown music is kept on the margins while endless backslapping about the near-infallibility of the company’s assembly line of development/competition/promotion consumes much of the running time.

  • Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind

    Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind

    ★★½

    Family-controlled documentary on Natalie Wood is a rather uncomfortable hybrid of first-generation (Bob Dorian, Gene Klavan, Nick Clooney) American Movie Classics tribute to Old Hollywood/the discipline of the studio system and an ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT special with a lot of home movie/interview footage, with Wood’s death handled as matter-of-fact with a somewhat spiteful dig at younger sister Lana’s speculative interviews.  Publicist Alan Nierob, who represented Mel Gibson during the latter’s outbursts of anti-Semitism and sexist boorishness, turns up as one of the authoritative interviewees in the latter section.