RevFest 2013 – Sunset Strip

Sunset Strip

Directed by: Hans Fjellestad

Starring: Johnny Depp, Dan Akroyd, Tom Arnold, Alice Cooper, Peter Fonda, Tommy Lee, many more

Three and a half stars

Review by: Julian Wright

People, locations, world events and wars all past and present have been documented, but could this be a first? A documentary about a street. And not even the whole thing, just the 2.4 kilometres that is referred to as the Sunset Strip- the glitzy fraction of the 35 kilometres that Sunset Boulevard extends through Hollywood. Sounds like a bonkers idea to dedicate about 95 minutes to bitumen, but as director Hans Fjellestad finds out, it was one mightily influential and iconic section of road.

With a celebrity guest list of participants that rivals that of the Academy Awards, the audience is taken down memory lane via anecdotal stories harking back to the 1920s when Sunset Boulevard was just a dirt road, through the subsequent decades and the cultural shifts that the popular road experienced. It was place where actors came to make it big, where musicians came to be creative and where comedians slugged it out at popular night spots. Some of the biggest names in showbiz graced this section of street.

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Several minutes are dedicated to the scandals that went on at famous Sunset Strip hotel Chateau Marmont – a place that many movies stars called their home away from home and got up to some mischief. But the focus here is the evolving music scene, which appeared to shift like clockwork with each new decade from jazz to rock to punk to grunge. The stories we hear from those that grew up there or spent a significant amount of time there are funny, insightful, breezy and a times gossipy – but that’s half the fun.

Eventually, it begins to feel a little elitist and there is an inescapable feeling that this is just an excuse for a bunch of big name movie stars and rock legends to reminisce. They are fun to listen to but it is hard for “outsiders” to relate to these people and the experiences they had. Weren’t there any ordinary LA residents that were affected by this buzzing street that wasn’t involved in the arts? Another point of view might have made this more accessible.

Sunset Strip screens as part of Revelation Perth International Film Festival 2013 on July 6, 7 and 9.

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