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|Index||108 reviews in total|
After 16 years together The Band decided to call it a day and got
together for one final gig in the San Francisco club where they first
performed properly as "The Band". Supported by a range of "friends" who
may be recognisable to some sharp-eyed rock and roll fans, the gig was
captured by Martin Scorsese as part of a documentary looking at the
band and their final show called "The Last Waltz".
Although I know some of their music I was not familiar with The Band, so I came to this film on the strength of recommendations of other viewers who know what sort of music I like as well as the fact that this was a Martin Scorsese film. Despite that I immediately got into the film although I do recognise that those looking to this to fulfil the "documentary" side of things will probably be disappointed. In this area we are left with very little talking and, although it is relaxed and engaging, it is hardly that informative beyond providing basic information and the odd nugget here and there. No, this is not a "documentary" in the way that the term would suggest, instead this is a concert film and a very, very good one at that.
With a vast array of guests joining The Band on stage, this is an impressive gig. The songs are mostly memorable and there are very few performances that could not be described as at least "good". The list of names should be enough to interest you (unless you honestly have zero interest in the period or the type of music) as those popping up in support include Bo Dylan, Neil Diamond, Dr John, Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Neil Young and Van Morrison to name a few. I cannot imagine many people struggling to enjoy the music and, if you enjoy some of it then you will more than likely just about all of it. The Band members are all impressive on stage and they also come over as very natural, chilled and funny in the interview sections.
Overall this is an impressive and enjoyable concert film. As an informative documentary it falls down by not having a lot to teach the audience, however this is a minor complaint because the interviews are still fun and the main focus of the film is the music. This aspect is great and I enjoyed almost all the artists and songs. Well worth seeing if you like great music performed by some great artists.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this in the cinema with some friends from college when it was
first released. I could not remember any of it. I didn't try to. Now,
about 28 years later, I buy the powered-up DVD version for half nothing
and settle down to watch.
OK, get this out of the way first. One point for Neil Young: sings from the heart. One point for Van Morrison: sings from the soul. One point (should be several, but then you might get the wrong impression at first glance) for Muddy Waters: showing everyone how it should be done.
Who messed up whom? Did The Bland make a fool of Bob Dylan and turn that fine word-smith into another mediocrity straining after effect? Or did Bylan turn The Bland into this cod folk-rock band with a taste for everything and nothing?
Think about the campy stage set. Hey, what a send up! Someone knew what this junk was all about. Maybe a point for him too, yes?
The DVD goes to a charity shop tomorrow.
This doc of The Bands' final concert is of more historical than musical interest. By 1976 The Band were at least 4 years past there peak and at times they give the impression here of a group that had played together just a few too many times. The interviews are shallow but Robbie Robertson still manages to come across as one of the smuggest people ever. It's worth catching for some of the guest performances - The Band manage to temporarily wake up when Ronnie Hawkins is on, Joni Mitchell is brave enough not to trot out a greatest hit. The highlight though is watching Van Morrison 'dance' during Caravan - a unique performance never imitated. The lowlight is some chap called Robert Zimmerman performing a bad Bob Dylan impersonation doing one of the master's greatest songs Forever Young. To some up an interesting look at mid-seventies rock aristocracy. Younger viewers might just feel that punk arrived just when it was needed most.
I happened across this on Turner Movie Channel the other evening. It was
shown in widescreen. I didn't recognize the musicians at first, and then I
saw this great drummer who was also singing, and really belting out the
songs! It was Leroy Helm, who played Loretta Lynn's Daddy in "Coal Miner's
Then I heard the interviewer, and I recognized that voice. "Damn, that's Martin Scorsese!" I said out loud.
I was sorry I came in late on this, because the music was fantastic, and it was a thoroughly fascinating documentary about rock music. There were so many late 70's rock stars singing, and I was just sorry that Linda Ronstadt and Kris Kristofferson weren't part of it.
I originally approached this film, 22 years ago, with wide eyed
Bob Dylan and the Band were personal heroes, as were Joni Mitchell and
Overall, I left the cinema in a somewhat deflated state. There was no doubting the charisma of Robertson, but he was not, for me, the heart of the Band and too much attention was given to him. The interviews were interesting but too truncated.
I was less than impressed by the concert footage. Whoever let Neil Young on stage in that state has a lot to answer for. Muddy Waters was outstanding as was Joni.
I have always thought Van Morrison a pain in the posterior and my views were confirmed here.
The Band itself was excellent and Dylan was awesome.
The surprise package of the night was Neil Diamond, a singer and songwriter whom I have often dismissed completely. His presence at the farewell concert was a major surprise (although I heard somewhere that Robertson had produced a couple of his albums). I was knocked out by his powerful rendition of a song, "Dry your eyes", that he co-wrote with Robertson. It is a pity that he has never really delivered on the potential he displays here.
I can't believe anyone would give a positive review of this film. This is nowhere near one of the best documentaries, in fact it's one of the worst. The concert footage is terribly shot. But the worst part is the interview segments (which are a measly 20-30 seconds each). I was shocked to see how bad a job Scorsese did. If The Band was so interesting, why not show it? All we get is a few minutes worth of useless rambling about "psychedlia" and groupies. This is supposed to be illuminating? Give me a break!
And I'm not sure I succeeded. I may have dozed off for a
The opening words on the screen at least summarise what it is I don't get about this kind of rock music: "This film should be played loud." Why? What's the idea? If it's ALL loud (and believe me, it is), how does one appreciate the loudness of any particular bit, apart from developing a headache? Music that asks us to revel in its sheer volume has something to hide. Scorsese might more aptly have said: "This film must be played loud in order to register at all."
The strange thing is that most of the songs (there's enough musical variety for there to be exceptions) fall flat; their musical content falls just short of enough and they need ENERGY, not mere loudness, to come off. Most of the musicians seemed skilled but exhausted.
The concert footage is at least filmed properly. Scorsese does nothing but train cameras on the performers so as to enable us to see what they're doing; he doesn't try to mold the concert, which is its own work of art, into HIS work of art. But the behind-the-scenes interviews are a boring waste of time. No doubt they satisfy the wish I expressed earlier, and diminish the loudness while they last, but any other footage that served the same purpose would have worked just as well.
It's, apparently, "the best rock movie ever made".
I found it tiresome, and not really that interesting. It's more like a music video interspersed with some uninteresting prattle.
Dull and uninteresting.
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