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Laurel Canyon
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Laurel Canyon

4.5 2
Director: Lisa Cholodenko

Cast: Frances McDormand, Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale


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Laurel Canyon is neither a great movie, nor a spectacular disc, but both still have enough going for them to recommend. The image, framed at 1.85:1 and anamorphic, is somewhat plain, but still shows good use of color. Detail is also adequately reproduced, as are skin tones and the darker elements of the screen. The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack doesn't pack much


Laurel Canyon is neither a great movie, nor a spectacular disc, but both still have enough going for them to recommend. The image, framed at 1.85:1 and anamorphic, is somewhat plain, but still shows good use of color. Detail is also adequately reproduced, as are skin tones and the darker elements of the screen. The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack doesn't pack much of a punch, which really isn't a surprise for the small nature of the film, but it is a shame, considering the subject of the music industry. The surrounds aren't really employed, which could have added some depth on this disc. Supplements are fairly slim, for the most part. Though there is a commentary with director Lisa Cholodenko, even she admits that she's rambling on, but fortunately she does cover a lot in the course of the film. A 21-minute featurette is also included. It's not so much a short documentary as a "talking head" interview with Cholodenko again, as she talks even more about her film, intercut with scenes from the film and some location shots. Finally, along with filmographies and two television spots, are theatrical trailers for this film, All the Real Girls, Love Liza, and Talk to Her.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Layers of sexual sublimation and an interesting twist on the Oedipus complex enrich this provocative drama from writer/director Lisa Cholodenko. Set in the eponymous Los Angeles neighborhood famed as a musicians' and actors’ enclave in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Laurel Canyon tracks the complex flirtations and seductions that ensue when straight-laced Harvard Medical School student Sam (Christian Bale) moves west with his fiancée, Alex (Kate Beckinsale), to the home of his pot-smoking record producer mother, Jane (Frances McDormand). The upside-down generation gap between the uninhibited mother and her uptight son is intriguing enough; but things really get interesting when the equally uptight Alex finds herself sharing a few joints and a sexy moonlight swim with Jane and her much younger rock singer boyfriend (Alessandro Nivola). Cholodenko populates this quintessential L.A. setting with a cast of well-drawn characters, and the finely tuned performances, with their emphasis on subtext and body language, conjure up an atmosphere electric with sexual potential. Every relationship and attraction in Laurel Canyon rings true, from the tepid anti-chemistry between Bale and Beckinsale to the feisty sexual sparring between Nivola and McDormand to the good-girl/bad-boy tango danced by Beckinsale and Nivola. And Natascha McElhone rounds things out as a sexy med-school colleague who falls believably head-over-heels for Sam. But at the center of Laurel Canyon is the sensual novice/initiate dynamic between Beckinsale and McDormand, whose seemingly effortless evocation of wise sexuality and sexy wisdom is Laurel Canyon’s real anchor. We can be thankful to have a film that allows this marvelous actress the opportunity to show off her seductive side.
All Movie Guide - Andrea LeVasseur
Lisa Cholodenko's sophomore film Laurel Canyon has a similar premise to her first feature High Art: A beautiful and intelligent good girl is lured into a wild lifestyle by an older, bolder woman. This time the catalyst is Frances McDormand in the juicy role of successful L.A. record producer Jane, convincingly devious with her infectious grin, tight leather pants, and awe-inspiring macho sexuality. It's unfortunate that the movie was not about her; she's frequently reduced to the background so that the predictable story of the uptight, humorless couple can unfold. As studious Alex, Kate Beckinsale is an appropriately bland foil to the obviously appealing McDormand and her immature younger lover, Ian (Alessandro Nivola). In a parallel story line, Christian Bale does his best as the restrained dullard Sam by thwarting the advances of sultry med student Sara (Natascha McElhone). However, his repressed anger about his unconventional childhood seems contrived since McDormand comes off as so interesting. Seen in photographs with Joni Mitchell, telling off uppity corporate label types, and flashing her braless chest to the band -- Jane is a sad, fascinating survivor with conflicts in dire need of exploring, instead of just serving as a representative for a cliché Southern California lifestyle of constant temptations. The musical score also seems to suffer from a lack of examination, despite its relevance to the narrative. Though it delivers an unsatisfying conclusion, Laurel Canyon is watchable for its well-photographed scenes of the gorgeous Bohemian estate and the excellent performance by McDormand.
New York Times
It reconfirms the filmmaker's talent as an acutely observant chronicler of upscale bohemian subcultures. Stephen Holden
Hollywood Reporter
An absorbing film about men and women and mothers and sons and how choices can forever alter relationships. Kirk Honeycutt
USA Today
All the performances are strong, but McDormand, Bale and Nivola's are most powerful. Claudia Puig

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]

Special Features

Closed Caption; Director commentary; Featurette; Cast and crew bios; Web link; Theatrical trailers

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Frances McDormand Jane
Christian Bale Sam
Kate Beckinsale Alex
Natascha McElhone Sara
Alessandro Nivola Ian
Lou Barlow Actor
Russ Pollard Actor
Amaad Wassif Actor

Technical Credits
Lisa Cholodenko Director,Screenwriter
Deborah Aquila Casting
Amy E. Duddleston Editor
Cindy Evans Costumes/Costume Designer
Scott Ferguson Executive Producer
Stephanie Gilliam Art Director
Catherine Hardwicke Production Designer
Jeffrey Levy-Hinte Producer
Mark Linkus Songwriter
David McGiffert Asst. Director,Co-producer
Steve Nelson Sound/Sound Designer
Wally Pfister Cinematographer
Karyn Rachtman Musical Direction/Supervision
Susan A. Stover Producer
Craig Wedren Score Composer
Dara Weintraub Co-producer
Tricia Wood Casting

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Start
2. Jane
3. Deep Connections
4. Sara
5. The Sex Life of Flies
6. "You Almost Killed Me."
7. Three's Company
8. Wyatt
9. "Someday I Will Treat You Good"
10. Status Report
11. Gloria
12. "Let's Stay Here a Little Longer."
13. A Mutual Problem
14. Alex's Critique
15. Anything but a Loser
16. Keeping Ian in His Place
17. "Alex Likes Your Scene."
18. Water Sports
19. Sublimation
20. Wyatt's Mother
21. Ian the Diplomat
22. "Shade and Honey"
23. "I'm Attracted to You."
24. Alex Provides the Entertainment
25. Fault Lines
26. "You Helped Open Me Up."
27. The Bottom Line
28. Taking a Mental Health Day


Customer Reviews

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Laurel Canyon 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
sugargirl84 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this movie. Christian Bale is gorgoeus. The rest of the cast does an amazing job in this film. I highly reccomend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago