Beefeater In-Edit 2013, Chapter IV
music documentary during the In-Edit Festival was the one with less expectations as, being honest, we didn't have any clue about what we were going to find. In that sense "Sunset Strip" was a nice surprise, quite fun and smooth entertainment on one of the most famous (arguably the most) streets on the planet, Sunset Strip, aka The Strip.
The documentary proposes a historical ride through the quite wild story of The Strip. From its origins, the not so glamorous road that connected Hollywood studios to a developing area that soon would become Beverly Hills in the roaring '20s, to the new Millennium. There's music, cinema stars, gangsters, hippies, drugs, hair metal, decadence, counterculture, glamour, scary parties, comedy, more drugs, and neon lights.... All is narrated in a very lightweight way, just a glimpse, a little bit of the whole, so the film can keep flowing, peppered by the comments of an impressive number of celebrities (even too many in my opinion) and people who were there (and others who weren't).
"Sunset Strip" doesn't offer any real insight or much substance. For the good and the bad. Some of the opinions are more passionate, amusing or significant than others. It's not the same hearing former mobsters talking about that policeman who made their life impossible than hearing Kelly Osbourne (what?). It's not the same hearing Lemmy or Billy Corgan than Slash (uggh). Johnny Depp (at least he used to be interesting) than Keeanu Reeves. I think you get it now. Also, some parts are way more absorbing than others. The mafia, the story of the clubs or the bloom of live music is much more engaging than the Chateu Marmont's or the comedians parts. But despite being somewhat uneven in the weight of its parts, or its unconventional mixture of footage, opinions, storytelling, live music and animations, it keeps going with fluency. It would be close to being confusing or chaotic, but believe it works because its doesn't attempt to go deeper.
If something is made clear on the documentary, is that Sunset Strip's story is made by cycles. It's arguable if there's space for a new rebirth of the street today, despite director Hans Fjellestad tries to convince us that the new generations of artists and club owners are injecting new life to The Strip. That sort of latest minute eulogy looks forced, as the director doesn't show us the reasons behind that argument, and doesn't help the film coherency either. But I don't think "Sunset Strip" deserves to be blamed at all. It works just fine as a quite entertaining and pleasant, unpretentious carousel of stories on a very particular street.