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|Index||114 reviews in total|
A splendid time is guaranteed for all.According to your taste,you are
sure to find in this 2 hours movie what you are looking for. Here are
The Band are at their best: the wistful "out of this world" ,the harrowing "it makes no difference" and the duet with Emmylou Harris ("Evangeline) are particularly exciting perhaps because they are not among their best known staples such as "the night they drove old Dixie down" or "the weight".
Although Neil Young did not like his performance ,I love him whatever he may do;and his cover of Ian Tyson's "Four strong winds" makes sense cause both Young and the Band are Canadians,but it was not in the film.On the other hand his "helpless" is at least as good as the original he made with CSN .(I must admit I'm not a fan of CSN)
I do not go much generally for Joni Mitchell's stuff but here she delivers the goods;her "Coyote " is peppy,jazzy and I wish she had done "Amelia" too.
Van Morrison is musically closer to the Band than anyone else on the stage:the first time I had listened his "moondance" album,I mistook it for a Band album.A great artist,a great song "Caravan".On the other hand ,his cover of a traditional fails to excite me cause there are so many great songs in his own catalog he could have performed.
My favorite moment is Dylan's fiery "Baby let me follow you down" .My Lord,what a singer! The Band perfectly segues from this traditional into "I don't believe you" although the Rhino reissue of the record on four CDs four years ago reveals that they performed "Hazel" just after "Baby..."Forever young" and "I shall be released " climax the concert.
A note about the previously unreleased tracks on the 2002 edition:it could have been boiled down to a three-CD set cause the concert rehearsal ,the studio ideas (sic) and the jams could have stayed in the can.But there are plenty of good songs we do not hear in the film:outside "Four strong winds"and "Hazel" ,there is Clapton's "all our past time" Mitchell's "Furry sings the blues" the Band's "Acadian Driftwood" (J'Ai Le Mal Du Pays =I've got homesick blues)and more..
Martin Scorcese bows to no one,when it comes to direct a rock film.
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.
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 eerie.
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.
Of opera, a friend of mine once said: 'If you see La Boheme and don't
like it then you can know with absolute certainty that you will not
like any opera'. The same can be said of 'The Last Waltz' and the music
of The Band in general. If you don't like The Band, forget all the rest
because, compared to The Band, the rest is, to varying degrees, a step
All the good stuff has been said more eloquently than I could so I will just make a couple of comments. In the movie, Robertson pretty much laid it on the line as to why he was breaking The Band up: he couldn't take life on the road anymore. Yes, I am sure he has an ego and who doesn't? But who can fault a man for wanting a normal life? And then there is Rick Danko. Has there ever been a more endearing performer in the history of rock 'n roll? And yet, he was addicted to drugs and died before his time. Think of the emotional energy that they were required to put out for every gig and then think of 100 or so gigs per year for 16 years. Is it any wonder that they needed to wind down afterward? It was and is an inevitable component of this type of music and a pretty good base from which to argue that, for all of its beauty, it probably would have been better had rock 'n roll never happened. All the art in the world is not worth one human life.
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.
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