I decided against seeing Amir Bar Lev‘s Long Strange Trip (theatrical 5.26, Amazon Prime 6.2), his four-hour Grateful Dead doc, at Sundance, but I’ll be catching it on 4.12 at a Los Angeles press screening — 5 pm to 9:30 pm with a half-hour refreshment break.
A Variety review by Owen Gleiberman plus the film’s Wikipedia page state that the running time is 235 minutes, but p.r. releases have reported slightly longer lengths — 238 and 242 minutes. Update: Obscured Pictures’ R.J. Millard, a recent addition to the team, clarifies that “the final running time will be 241 minutes (4 hours, 1 minute).”
The only Grateful Dead album I’ve ever really liked is Live Dead. Recorded at San Fransico’s Avalon Ballroom and Fillmore West in early ’69 and released later that year, it was the first live album to use 16-track recording. Village Voice critic Robert Christgau wrote that side two of the double album “contains the finest rock improvisation ever recorded” — agreed.
I presumed from the get-go that Long Strange Trip would be an above-average thing because of Bar-Lev‘s esteemed track record — My Kid Could Paint That (’07), The Tillman Story (’10) and Happy Valley (’14).
From Gleiberman’s review: “[Pic] has the sprawl and generosity of a good Dead show, yet there’s nothing indulgent about it — it’s an ardent piece of documentary classicism. I’m one of those people who can’t stand the Grateful Dead…yet I found Long Strange Trip enthralling. For the first time, it made me see, and feel, and understand the slovenly glory of what they were up to, even if my ears still process their music as monotonous roots-rock wallpaper.”