Reviews

My Dinner With Jimi

Kaylan's recollection of the wild night when he and his band met Donovan, The Beatles, Brian Jones and Jimi Hendrix is an amazing portrait filled with fabulous performances and plenty of humor.


My Dinner With Jimi

Director: Bill Fishman
Cast: Justin Henry, Jason Boggs
Length: 90 minutes
Rated: Not Rated
Distributor: Rhino
US DVD Release Date: 2009-06-23

My Dinner With Jimi is a re-enactment of Howard Kaylan's memories of one spectacular summer night in the Swinging London of 1967. It's everything you'd expect to find in a purple-hazy, half-remembered reminiscence filled with hit songs, hash pipes and pop legends. The fact that it comes from Kaylan, a Turtle and one half of Flo and Eddie, means that not only is it authentically faithful to the events and vibe of the times, but it's also enthusiastically hilarious.

The film begins just before the Turtles released "Happy Together" and Kaylan (Justin Henry), co-vocalist Mark Volman and their band mates are rising in the L.A. scene on the strength of early hits like "She’d Rather Be with Me" and a cover of "It Ain't Me, Babe". We see the energetic young combo playing the Whisky with a little band called the Doors as opening act, and hanging out at Cantor's Deli with Frank Zappa and Mama Cass.

All of this is wonderfully mad-cap, as is the teen magazine photo shoot which includes actual text from the original articles (Personality: Mature and sensitive, Hobbies: Painting…), but its purpose is to prepare you -- or show how unprepared The Turtles were -- for the mind-blowing experience London was to afford the band.

When "Happy Together" becomes a number one smash, the Turtles head to England where the boys meet up with The Hollies' Graham Nash (Chris Soldevilla), who becomes their unofficial guide on a wild ride. They are treated to a smoke with Donovan (Rob Benedict) and a life-changing pre-release spin of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in Nash's flat.

When taken to The Speakeasy later, our incredulous heroes meet their heroes, and unfortunately The Beatles, John Lennon in particular, didn't quite live up to their legends on the eve of the unveiling of the masterpiece that was Pepper. Of course, for every hero that falls there is another on the rise.

Kaylan's band mates flee the scene after the Beatle debacle, and he's left alone in a strange city signing an autograph for… Brian Jones. Jones (a wonderful Jay Michael Ferguson), it turns out, was a huge fan of the west coast sound that spawned the Turtles, and he introduces the awe-struck Kaylan to another life-changing musician who, like Kaylan, is on the eve of superstardom.

Royale Watkins plays the titular dinner companion, and he is arguably the best thing about the entire film (and that's saying a lot, because it's all fantastic). Hendrix was obviously the best thing about Kaylan's memories of the night, otherwise the film would be called, Toking with Donovan or Graham Takes Us On a Trip, but Watkins' portrayal of him is beyond brilliant. It's so much more than homage, which would've been understandable. In no way does it seem like a parody, either, which might have been expected.

No, this isn't a collection of studied mannerisms, this man inhabits the character the way the character wears the red velvet suit: with complete confidence. He's an irresistible, magnetic and utterly transfixing presence.

Clearly, Kaylan felt the same way about the original. His awkwardly endearingly recollections of his experience show him as the fan to which all can relate. His reverently detailed descriptions of each of these amazing artists demonstrate the depth of his admiration for them, which all can recognize. The fact that he was one of them is not lost on the viewer, either.

That he can recall that night with such clarity and affection, given all of the great things that must have happened to him before and since, is what makes this movie magnificent. But then, the fact that he can recall that night at all makes My Dinner With Jimi miraculous!

8

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.