Royale Watkins (left) and Justin Henry enjoy a 60s spread in My Dinner With Jimi.
My Dinner With Jimi (FilmsWeLike, 2003) D: Bill Fishman, w/ Justin Henry, Royale Watkins. Rating: NNNN; DVD package: NN
More than anything else I've seen, this gets the Swinging 60s right. The clothes and music are the easy part. It's tougher to capture the uneasy mix of exuberance, dorkiness, self-conscious hipsterism and unconscious pomposity of that allegedly irreverent time that birthed so many sacred cows of its own.
My Dinner With Jimi nails it in one tight, funny memoir from the pen of Howard Kaylan.
In 1967, the song Happy Forever launches Kaylan's California band, the Turtles, into the big time and sends them to gig in Swinging London. Fresh off the plane they get an advance listen to Sgt. Pepper, and then, awash in Beatles adoration, they meet the Fab Four in London's hippest private club. The Beatles are all drunk and Lennon is obnoxious. Kaylan doesn't much care. He meets Jimi Hendrix and they go for a drunken supper, but another Turtle is crushed, leaves the club, returns home and never plays guitar again.
You can read a lot into those two opposed reactions, not least about the never-acknowledged spiritual destructiveness of the Beatles cult that peaked with Sgt. Pepper, but Kaylan and producer Harold Bronson confine their amiable commentary to sorting fiction from fact and telling rock stories.
Royale Watkins as Hendrix and Justin Henry as Kaylan play off each other well, and they're surrounded by very good comic actors, most notably Jason Boggs as Turtles co-vocalist Mark Volman and Brian Groh doing a deadly John Lennon.
EXTRAS Kaylan and Bronson commentary, Turtles In London doc, Turtles discography. Widescreen.