Little Birds was Elgin James’ first screenplay and it was accepted into both the Sundance Screenwriters Lab and the Sundance Directors Lab. In 2009, James was awarded a Time Warner Fellowship Grant as well as an Annenberg Feature Film Fellow Grant. He was recently named as one of Ioncinema.com’s “American New Wave 25”, in addition to being selected as one of Variety’s 2011 “Directors to Watch.”
James who wrote and directed this movie comes from the streets of Boston and he chose to convey his gritty experiences of homelessness and heading up a street gang of modern day Robin Hood punks through the characters of two teenage girls who come from the poverty stricken coastal town of Salton Sea in California and end up with some older boys on the streets of a grimy section of Los Angeles.
Not content with the writing and directing hats he also contributes to the accompanying soundtrack and score to the film. The first 5 songs, 2 of which are by Elgin James & The Suicide Gang, have a proper blues country feel and Elgin has a Tom Waites timbre to his voice which is very pleasant to listen to. By the 5th track however I was feeling pretty down which given the content of the film is hardly a surprise. Track 6 is where I woke up, Another Man Don’ Gone by Odetta & Larry is a brilliant recording of an old traditional by this 50s blues folk duo, a forgotten gem that raised my spirits.
Big Star’s September Gurls is next in line and is a very welcome upbeat poppy Beach Boys-esque tune to lighten the mood. Anenome by The Brian Jonestown Massacre is one of their more typical tracks with a hippy laid back and surreal vibe; personally I like this old indie band which has been around for 20 years so this was another welcome track.
The final song on the album is the aptly named Little Birds by Tift Merritt a singer-songwriter who saw an early screening of the film and was so moved that she went home and wrote this song for it. It is melancholy, poignant and a fitting end to this sombre soundtrack.