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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For many years, I was known as a monk, I shaved my head and wore robes, got up very early. I hated everyone but I acted generously, and no one found me out. My reputation as a ladies man was a joke. It caused me to laugh bitterly through the 10,000 nights I spent alone.
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Tower of Song
Performed by Leonard Cohen and U2
Written by Leonard Cohen
Published by 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. See more »
Frustrating experience but still some good performances & good Leonard Cohen stories
This was a frustrating experience to sit through. Part concert film, part biography with historical footage & photos, part present day interview, these various strands seem to be struggling with each other. This was filmed primarily at a series of Leonard Cohen tribute performances organized by producer Hal Willner in Sydney, Australia during January 2005 under the banner of "Came So Far For Beauty". Many of the same artists had also performed similar concerts during 2004 in New York City and the UK. Interview clips with Leonard Cohen at his home in LA along with some archival photos and film footage are interspersed into the concert scenes.
The flow of this wasn't always very satisfying and there was one aspect that began to get more irritating the longer the film went on. The filmmakers begin sabotaging their own concert artists by editing/interjecting an occasional red sparkle/red sequin image over their performances, which you gradually realize is a foreshadowing of Leonard Cohen's own performance with U2 (filmed at a totally separate non-concert staged studio setting) to come at the very end of the film. It is like they're constantly saying: "Don't worry if you don't like this particular performance, Leonard Cohen himself is yet to come!". What kind of message is that to send in the middle of your film with other performers? Some songs are even interrupted in mid-performance by historical or interview footage and then when Leonard Cohen is telling some good anecdote we go back to another cheat sheet performance (many of the singers don't seem to know the lyrics, so their eyes and eyelids constantly have a downcast/lidded look as they look to their music stands for the words). Still, there are some terrific performances here by Rufus Wainwright (on "Everybody Knows", "Chelsea Hotel #2" & "Hallelujah") Martha Wainwright (on "The Traitor") Beth Orton & Jarvis Cocker (duet on "Death of a Ladies' Man) and former Leonard Cohen band alumni Perla Battala & Julie Christensen (they also lend terrific support for most of the other singers) on "Anthem" and with the greatest revelation being the single monikered Antony (actually Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons) giving a show-stealing rendition of "If It Be Your Will".
Leonard Cohen's & U2's seemingly mimed/lip-synced performance of "Tower of Song" comes as a big let down at the end. Even more frustratingly, the main concert's rehearsal clips show the rest of the singers rehearsing a group finale, which, after a search on the internet (see http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/hw-sydney.html), I found out was the Sydney show's closing number "Memories" ("I walked up to the tallest and the blondest girl, I said, look, you don't know me now, but pretty soon you will, So won't you let me see, won't you let me see, won't you let me see , your naked body.") which would have made for a much more humorous and rollicking finale but is sadly not to be seen in the film. A great opportunity lost but perhaps still a future possibility for a DVD down the road. Still, Leonard Cohen tells some great stories and Rufus Wainwright gets to tell his own personal "Leonard Cohen moment" story and Nick Cave gets to talk about his discovery of "Songs of Love and Hate", but I would rather have had a pure concert film or a pure interview/biography (or better yet, both separately!) rather than this hybrid which doesn't satisfy either craving completely. The good moments rescue this enough to bring it up to a 7 out of 10.
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