by Laurie Coker

For me, the last night at SXSW 2012 had to be Friday and not Saturday, as is usual. My granddaughter’s first birthday wins out, even over the potential for finding a gem at the festival. On my final venture, I opted for a documentary, having not covered many, called ‘Sunset Strip,’ a historical look at the famed 1.5 miles of road where dreams live and die for artists of every genre. Having met some of the cast and creators on the Red Carpet, my interest was piqued even more, especially with the promise of music covering several decades.

Overall, my expectations were met. ‘Sunset Strip,’ which includes interviews from folks like Kelly Osborn, Phyllis Diller, Mickey Roark, Johnny Depp, who founded the famed Viper Room (star River Phoenix died on its door step), and countless others, did please me for most of it. It offers looks at famous landmarks, the making and breaking of careers (in comedy, music, and burlesque and even, organized crime). It traces highs and lows of this small strip – that once outshined Vegas (until that is, Vegas came along). But, honestly since I have never had much use for heavy metal and “hair” bands, that part of the film bored me. I understand the need for paying equal time to each era, but I just could not bring myself to care, so at that point things dragged for me.

I always wonder about documentaries and the life of them. I suppose that is one reason that I lean toward narrative features at the festival, but I am glad I saw this one. It offers a historical look at a place with a rich and sorted tale in a way that will appeal to a variety of audienes. I am placing a B- in my grade book. As noted, the 1990s just weren’t my favorite in music, but then I have my reservations about the music of the 80s too.


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