Friday, March 03, 2006

Neil Young: Heart of Gold

by Brian
I'm familiar with Neil Young's more famous songs, and I own one album of his (1978's Comes a Time), but I wouldn't say I'm particularly a Young fan. So with that in mind, let me announce that Neil Young: Heart of Gold is the first great movie of 2006. I wanted to see it as soon as Jeffrey Wells unleashed this self-parody of a Wired item, calling it "an AARP concert film" and "Geezer Rock", just to see for myself.

It's really a beautiful concert film, and I was surprised by how well the songs from the new album hold up against the established classics. I was also surprised that Young had up to 25-30 musicians on stage at a time without the arrangements sounding cluttered or forced; see some of Bruce Springsteen's more recent live shows for a good example of what I mean. And I loved the earnestness and utter lack of pretension in Young's performance; Rattle and Hum this is not.

I also thought Jonathan Demme's direction was top-notch, very stripped down and unintrusive. He seems to complement Young's performance without trying to augment it. When the camera moves, it is slowly and with purpose, with no attempt at artificial excitement or hype. Instead the story is told through editing: glances between Young and wife/backing vocalist Pegi, a smile from Emmylou Harris, a rare wide shot of the audience, framed by the stained glass windows of the Ryman Auditorium.

So, Geezer Rock ... who knows. It definitely stands apart from most filmed live music today. But I loved it, and if that makes me an old man, fine by me.


Blogger Chris said...

So far it's been a great decade for music docs. Wilco's I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, Dylan's No Direction Home, Punk: Attitude.

There are a bunch of interesting looking ones on the horizon too; Dave Chapelle's Block Party and Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That.

3/03/2006 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Count Olaf said...

I thoroughly enjoyed Metallica's Some Kind of Monster

3/03/2006 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

ooh, I forgot that one. I hate Metallica but I loved that film. Now that is a good music doc.

3/03/2006 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

I'd add DiG! to the list of great music documentaries. There was also a great wink to it an episode of "The Gilmore Girls."

3/03/2006 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/09/2006 11:49:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

I moved my comment above to a post, since it looks like comments to old posts can be almost invisible since they don't show up in Recent Comments. Now watch this one show up....

3/10/2006 06:47:00 AM  

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