|Page 3 of 11:||          |
|Index||107 reviews in total|
John Lennon put on the record label of his Plastic Ono Band song Cold Turkey Made Loud to be Played Loud and we got the point. It was. Martin Scorsese puts on the opening credits of this film This Film Should be Played Loud. Well yeah, it's a concert and all but what's with the urgency for volume. This ain't a Bon Scott AC/DC show. The Band were four Canadians and a guy from Arkansas that embraced a mix of country/folk/blues/rock and projected an earthy, folksy, backwoods persona. To further complicate the Band's image Scorsese brings in production designer/set decorator Boris Levin who did West Side Story and The Sound of Music to create this ornate atmospheric elaborate stage setting that seems so ingenuous to the music of the Band. It comes across like the Dixie Chicks being invited to Mozart's house. ( well, after all it is the Last Waltz, good thing they didn't call it The Swan Song.) Niel Diamond is here and after you get over asking yourself what's he doing here, he actually is one of the better performances. Ringo Starr, Ron Wood seem a little out of place. Bob Dylan and Ronnie Hawkins are naturals since the Band served as the backup band to both performers during their 16 year career that began in 1960 and ends on Thankgiving of 1976 when this concert was filmed. Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Paul Butterfield, Dr John, Muddy Waters, Emilou Harris and The Staple Singers are among the performers. Cinematographer Michael Chapman who photographed such feature films as The Last Detail, Taxi Driver and Raging Bull leads up a team of photographers of Lazlo Kovacs, Vilmos Zsigmond, Bobby Byrne, Michael Watkins and Hiro Narita. It's beautifully photographed but concentrates too much on Band member Robbie Robertson and too little on Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel. Noted director Martin Scorsese made this film between two of his biggest features Taxi Driver and Raging Bull and it was filmed while he was working on the film New York, New York. Interviews with the band and other musicians are interspersed among the performances. It's a good document from the mid-seventies of a collection of musicians who got their start in the 60's but over rated by many. I would give this a 7.5 out of 10.
I absolutely love the band and all the other musicians that played at
this legendary concert. I am disappointed though by the portrayal of
Robertson as the leader of the band. He may have penned the lyrics to
the majority of the songs, but that is as far as his leadership goes.
Since this movie was entirely his idea and since he was the band member
who is friends with Scorcese, he is shown to be the "conductor". The
truth is, the sound of the band comes the least from Robertson. His
microphone is seldom even turned on because he has such a poor singing
voice. Also note that all of the music, vocals and instruments, besides
Helm's voice and drums were overdubbed for the film and the soundtrack.
Either way I really do enjoy this film immensely. Two stars were compromised by the misrepresentation of The Band thanks to Robertson and Scorcese, as well as the fact that the true music from that night is not to be found anywhere.
Now you gotta know I'm a player.. a quite good keyboardist.. and I've
played some of this material in bands, and I can read guitar chords and
bass lines just from watching.
And I tell you honestly, Rick Danko was NOT playing the basslines I heard song after song.. he'd jump around, and wag his elbows around, and pretend to do some flashy stuff on the fretboard.. it's just not him that you hear. It's screamingly obvious on a couple of the blues numbers, he's just thumping away on one note while the bass you HEAR is doing climbs and drops.. you know, professional.
So I don't know what was up with his playing, and I don't know if there was a ringer offstage or whether they overdubbed bass in a studio later (i.e. they recorded the audio to a 24-track).
But I swear, Rick Danko was NOT playing the bass you're hearing.
MY THEORY: Eric Clapton was around all evening, and played several times. His bass player from Derek and the Dominos, Carl Radle, mysteriously showed up during the one 'all star' jam that got filmed.. Carl's tone and playing style sounded suspiciously familiar.. as if I'd been hearing him all along.
Other than that, a fabulous look at some classic rock performers that'll never be on the same stage again.
**avoid Robbie's stoned rambling 'commentary' at all costs.
Wasn't all the BAND, in a back-woods film where they all had acting roles? I didn't see this in their film BIOS. I think it was Canadian, and in the early 80's? They were characters out of the 1800's, or early 1900's. Does anyone remember this movie? What was the name of it, and who starred. HELP IMDb! Actually, they all looked like characters out of many of their songs, like CRIPPLE CREEK, the WEIGHT,etc... Doesn't any BAND fanatic know this? I bring this up because, although The Last Waltz is the BAND at it's best, they were all fairly good actors, and the remaining members who are still alive should do more acting like LEVON and ROBBIE.
To put it frankly, I love the Band's music as well as every musician involved in this project...it gives a real humanity to the public's perception of rock stars/famous musicians, and what they are really like. The only thing I don't like about the movie is that all of the concert footage is centered around Robbie Robertson. He's a great songwriter, as well as a great guitarist. But the story as to how the Band broke up and the future was very controlled and manipulated on Robbie's part...which is a crying shame. If the whole movie wasn't so biased in point of view and showed more of the rest of the Band...it would be a 10...unquestionably...However, I highly recommend this movie to anyone who truly appreciates rock 'n roll. The music, collaborators, and the guest musicians that put their own unique mark make "The Last Waltz," the greatest rock film ever made.
Thanks to This is Spinal Tap, we won't be able to watch movies like this without thinking of Nigel Tufnel and his guitar collection, or his "11" amps. This seems to be the movie that Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer targeted for their spoof, and unfortunately for The Last Waltz, it takes away from the backstage sequences. But it's certainly not the fault of The Band. All of the members are given a chance to address Scorsese and his camera, although the focus is clearly on Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm (and that makes sense, because they are the most famous members). They seem to be high on something for most of the backstage scenes, but this was filmed in 1976, so that should come as no surprise. Was it just me, or did the members look like Stillwater in Almost Famous? What you take away from the movie, though, is not the backstage material, but the performances. I'm not that familiar with many of The Band's songs, and while the film did not make me an instant devout fan, I have a better appreciation of them.
I believe this to be the best concert film ever. To start with,it's a
series of wonderful performances from people like Ronnie Hawkins, Van
Morrison, Joni Mitchell, shown through masterful lighting and the keen eye
of Martin Scorsese. Then there is The Band. This is a group that embraces
the world of folk, country, blues, bluegrass, rock and roll; has connections
with Dylan; and are masters in performance. They are incredible musicians
and arrangers who fill the spaces between guest performances with their
outstanding work. One of the highlights comes away from the actual
concert--that is Emmylou Harris doing a rendition of Evangeline with the
Band in the background, featuring Levon Helm "harmonizing," shot in a cold
kind of lighting, mysterious and a contrast to the festive being of the
concert. It fades off and the applause comes up. It is quite
I really enjoyed Neil Young--his manic presence and the haunting voice on Helpless. I can't wait to get this on DVD. I strongly urge people to see this. If you don't like some of the single performances, stay for the ride.
Praise has been heaped on Robbie Robertson, but this film really highlights bassist/vocalist Rick Danko's great heart and talent. Watch for his reaction especially when trying to figure out what Dylan's doing as they launch into 'Baby let me follow you down' for a second time. Also note that Robertson's microphone is TURNED OFF: the guy is not a singer, though he sure acts like it in this film and Scorcese spends way too much camera time on him, adding to the illusion.
The Last Waltz (1978)
I see this movie gets high marks by lots of viewers, and I'll say right off that I like the Band, and love most of the performers in the movie. And some of the individual performances are terrific, which live shows do not guarantee. Getting unadorned footage of Neil Young or Joni Mitchell is great, and lots of different songs by the Band itself, excellent for what it all is.
But as a movie, something to sit and watch and get involved in? Not a chance. The interviews were really really boring even for someone like me prepared to be fascinated. And there is a lot of it, people sitting around talking about how really great the music was and how the concert was meant to be more than just music, but a celebration, blah blah. My god, these are adults talking! Ha...so full of themselves, and Scorsese, a great director, seems sucked into the rock star worship, too, forgetting to film it, edit it, and make it more than just another rock and roll concert film. Which is what it is.
As a quick comparison, you find something similar in Jonathan Demme's "Stop Making Sense" which is better just by virtue of being more polished and devoid of silly interviews. And there's "Woodstock," which has a whole other level of historical interest. Maybe there was a feeling "The Last Waltz" was in fact an historical moment, but not really, not for anyone except, maybe, the Band.
You all know who you are. If you love the music, you'll love the music. The interviews are hard to imagine liking more than once, if that, but the music is what it is. I'd recommend the CD.
This is not only one of the best concert films ever made and one of the best rock and roll films ever made, it is one of the best films ever made about music. Although drummer Levon Helm slams it in his book "This Wheel's On Fire", this is a masterpiece. The flaws that Levon points out are evident after several viewings, namely too much screen time given to the somewhat sleazy Robbie Robertson. Besides that, this film is perfect. I would have liked to see more screen time given to the other members of The Band, as they seem like much more likable characters. Good ol' boy Levon Helm, eccentric genius Garth Hudson, drunk as hell Richard Manuel and the youthful, upbeat Rick Danko. But, apparently Scorsese had a little man-crush on Robertson and he makes him appear to be The Band's leader. When you watch the whole Band together, however, in interviews and onstage, the leadership role suits Levon more. When he talks, the other guys shut up. With only one serious mis-step, the Neil Diamond cheese fest "Dry Your Eyes", this is just about the greatest film ever made about the power of music. Even with too much Robbie.
|Page 3 of 11:||          |
|External reviews||Official site||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|