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Legendary poet, singer/songwriter and alleged ladies man Leonard Cohen is interviewed in his L.A. home about his extraordinary life and times, interspersed with old footage from his private photo collection and lavish praise plus elaborately performed Cohen cover songs from a motley crew of colleague musicians, amongst whom Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Rufus & Martha Wainwright, Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker and U2's Bono and The Edge. By way of dessert the latter two and their band mates even get to back up the man for a special performance of his own. Written by
Swie Tio <email@example.com>
[explaining his song, "The Traitor"]
It was about the feeling that we have of betraying some mission that we were mandated to fulfill, and being unable to fulfill it. And then coming to understand that the real mandate was not to fulfill it, and that the deeper courage, was to stand guiltless in the predicament in which you found yourself
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Performed by Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Kate McGarrigle (as Kate) and Anna McGarrigle
Written by Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson
Published by Universal-Geffen Music o/b/o Itself and Robinhill Music and Stranger Music Inc. (BMI) / Sony/ATV Songs LLC (BMI)
All rights on behalf of Stranger Music Inc. and Sony/ATV Songs LLC are administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing,
8 Music Square West, Nashville, TN 37203 USA.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Rufus Wainwright performs courtesy of Geffen Records See more »
First of all, this documentary focuses on a concert that was a tribute to Leonard Cohen, an artist and a poet that has been influential to countless others. This Sydney concert gathered a lot of talent that came together to celebrate his music. Lian Lunson, an Australian director, has taken the best tracks of the historical presentation that mixes well with the man it's paying homage to. Let the viewer be clear that for a better picture of who this man is and what he has done in his life, it will not be found in this movie. For that, anyone interested in Cohen's life must go somewhere else because of the limitations this medium had.
The life of Leonard Cohen is examined briefly as an on camera interview with him at his Los Angeles home. Several biographical bits of information are revealed during that conversation, but of course, it only covers the highlights of his life in sketchy details. One gets to know, for instance, about his early life in Montreal. The death of the father when Cohen was nine. His New York stay, at the legendary Chelsea Hotel, home of the cool people that influenced a whole generation. Then one learns about Mr. Cohen's introduction to Zen Buddism and his becoming a monk.
A curious note arises from the lips of Leonard Cohen's lips about being a notorious ladies' man, something he was always notorious for, and yet, how far from the truth it was. There is also a moment in which the poet reads for our benefit the introduction he prepared for one of his books being translated into Chinese, a culture that always fascinated him.
The concert itself is an excellent way to hear Leonard Cohen's songs as others interpret them. Rufus Wainwright sings three numbers to great effect. Antony makes a poignant appearance belting "If It Be Your Will", all tics and mannerisms, yet making the song seem new. Nick Cave has also two good moments interpreting "I'm Your Man", and "Suzanne", two of the songs closely associated with Mr. Cohen. Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen who back up most of the songs, are perfect in "Anthem". Martha Wainwright's take on "The Traitor" has a different edge when she sings it, yet it's one of the highlights of the evening.
The best is left for last. Bono, and Edge, who have been praising Mr. Cohen throughout the film come together to back him as he sings his "Tower of Song" in his own inimitable style. It shows a lot of generosity on his part leaving his own material to be reexamined by a younger generation that clearly loves him.
Lian Lunson shows she had the right idea in how to bring the concert into a movie that gives relevance to a man that had it all, Leonard Cohen.
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