Okay, I promised some music reviews last week and didn't post any so here goes:
You could not come up with 2 concert films that are more different from each other than NEIL YOUNG : HEART OF GOLD and AWESOME! I FUCKIN' SHOT THAT!
Jonathan Demme's work documenting Young's 2005 Ryman Auditorium performance is straight-forward and polished much like the music it presents. I'm far from a hardcore Young fan - I have I guess what you'd call the essential discs ("Harvest", "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere", "After The Gold Rush", "Rust Never Sleeps", etc.). have seen him live a few times, but over the years have drifted away from his newer releases because of too many same-sounding songs.
A few songs into the show - that complaint melts away.
With a large band of ace players (including Emmyloo Harris, Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham, and wife Pegi Young) Neil plays the Prairie Wind album in its entirety then a smattering of crowd pleasing hits (like the title song especially) and it all sounds sweet to these ears. The DVD has some cool extras most notably a clip of Young on The Johnny Cash Show in 1970. Man, they need to release that show in full!
AWESOME! I FUCKIN' SHOT THAT! throws out the traditional approach and goes for the jugular - 50 fans are given Hi-8 and digital-video cameras to a Madison Square Garden Beastie Boys show and Adam Yauch's alter ego Nathaniel Hornblower edits together all their footage into one of the most rowdy, renograde, in your face concert films ever. One of the camera people even films his trip to the bathroom!
Whatever your opinion of the Beasties' music this film is a lot of fun to watch - the split screens, the fast cutting, the wide range of angles, and the sense that the whole arena was pumping and pounding. It does drag a bit at times - the trance instrumental set wasn't as exciting as other bits, but this inventive and punchy concert flick definitely deserves the right to, you know...party.
The best music documentary since Scorcese's NO DIRECTION HOME : BOB DYLAN in my book (or more accurately on my blog) is definitely THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON. Funny, disturbing, and never dull - the story of bipolar Beatles-obsessed quirky songwriting Devil-fearing Johnston is told by his extensive archive of home made films, audio-cassette diaries, magic marker drawings, and interviews with family and friends.
The overwhelming amount available of Johnston's self documentation pours out of the movie and into the bonus features on the DVD - it takes quite a bit to get through all of it but it is worth every second.
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