Welcome back to the Spool’s weekly interview podcast, More of a Comment, Really…, where editor-in-chief Clint Worthington talks to actors, filmmakers, composers and other figures from the realm of film and television.
What happened to Timothy Leary? One minute, he was an anti-establishment rebel, spending ten years in prison after advocating for the “turn on, tune in, drop out” drug liberation culture of the ’70s; the next, he was a government narc, informing on the same people he hooked in. One possible explanation lies in his exciting, deeply idiosyncratic relationship with Swiss-born Joanna Harcourt-Smith, the subject of Errol Morris‘ latest documentary My Psychedelic Love Story (which hits Showtime this weekend).
Centered entirely on Harcourt-Smith’s side of the story, Morris’ latest doc is playful and intriguing in all the ways you’d expect of his interrogative, interview-centric approach to documentary filmmaking. It certainly helps, of course, that frequent collaborator Paul Leonard-Morgan (Wormwood, American Dharma) is along for the ride, painting between the lines of Harcourt-Smith’s lively, charming investigation of her own past, as much a mystery to her as it is to the audience. Was she really a CIA spy, a Mata Hari figure meant to take down one of the government’s greatest counterculture nuisances? Or was she a lost, naive girl looking for the ride of a lifetime?
Leonard-Morgan (no stranger to this podcast; we talked to him earlier this year about Amazon’s Tales from the Loop) weaves an intricate blend of synths, driving strings, and percussion through Morris’ kaleidoscopic, montage-heavy approach to Harcourt-Smith’s story. Luckily, we managed to catch him in the final weeks of preparing the score to talk to us about working with Morris, the engaging mysteries of the film’s subject, and the logistical complexities of recording live music during a global pandemic.
Listen to our interview with Paul Leonard-Morgan, as well as an exclusive piano rendition of the film’s main theme. My Psychedelic Love Story premieres on Showtime November 29th.
My Psychedelic Love Story Trailer: