Due to the recent unpleasantness, Baton Rouge has eclipsed New Orleans as the largest city in Louisiana. Is the city destined for greatness? Scenic Highway is the name of US Highway 61 as it passes through northern Baton Rouge. It is also this trip to the city – and such landmarks as Huey Long’s art deco State Capitol building and Buckminster Fuller’s hidden geodesic dome. This darkly affectionate memoir is also an exposé of the city’s colorful history – told through the use of animated motion graphics, archival Super 8 footage, and re-created & faux-created elements.
***1/2 – Mather uses a combination of archival Super 8 footage, iconic still photographs, animation, and loopy recreations of famous events in Baton Rouge’s history to create his sardonic and irreverent ode. Relevant selected readings from such authors as Mark Twain and Jack Kerouac set to Juuso Auvinen’s moody, dreamy score provide an aural complement to Mather’s oddly engaging visual history. If Scenic Highway were just some sort of bland Chamber of Commerce puff piece about Baton Rouge, Louisiana, it certainly wouldn’t even bear a mention here. Fortunately for Mather and his viewers, Scenic Highway is to the common travelogue what the triple latte is to coffee. – Film Threat
Part diary, part travelogue, part mystery, part filmmaker retrospective, Scenic Highway is a love letter to the hometown of he who must surely be Baton Rouge’s most prodigal son. Evan Mather’s homage to the capital of Louisiana is a pastiche of styles and formats that rewrites the geography of this landscape through a collection of video footage, animated maps and diagrams, written testimonials and guided tours. Bracketing some of the City’s more salient (if bizarre) history factoids within the context of the State and the world at large, Mather manages to write himself right into this urban text with excerpts of his earlier films shot in the region and other Super-8 and video snapshots of him and his friends against the same backdrop. The results are hilarious, deeply touching and often breathtakingly creepy. FIVE STARS! – New Orleans Video Access Center