GREENWICH VILLAGE: MUSIC THAT DEFINED A GENERATION (Laura Archibald). 121 minutes. Opens Friday (March 8) at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. For times, see listings. Rating: NNN
In this irresistible doc, Canadian filmmaker Laura Archibald mines a trove of archival footage and interviews with Pete Seeger, Kris Kristofferson, Judy Collins, Tom Paxton and dozens of other gifted musicians whose talent was nurtured in the Village cafés of the 50s and 60s.
Though Suze Rotolo's A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir Of Greenwich Village In The Sixties is used as a frame (Susan Sarandon reads excerpts from it), it's Seeger - gentle, politically committed and inspiring - who is the film's central figure.
The interviews sometimes have a predictable feel: the musicians weren't competitive; no one was interested in fame; gee, Bob Dylan's Blowin' In The Wind is a good song. But occasionally there's some great content, especially José Feliciano's Dylan imitation and Buffy Sainte-Marie's commentary on why politics mattered.
And the footage is awesome. In addition to a clip of Cass Elliot's first band (she has her hair in a flip!), an incendiary performance of Freedom by Richie Havens and a charming appearance by Joni Mitchell singing Night In The City, Dylan sings A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall for the first time.
It's weird that the gay presence in Greenwich Village is mentioned only once, and it's always irritating to hear New Yorkers refer to themselves as the centre of the universe.
Except in this case, they might be right.