|Index||6 reviews in total|
Lou Reed's brilliant musicianship and Schnabel's deft hand at directing combined with gorgeous rich sound makes this the finest rock and roll concert movie of my life. The huge band, including choir, back up singers, horns and strings held down by the greatest rhythm section ever were filmed and recorded such that Lou Reed's stellar performance and incredible poetry were allowed to shine in all their unique genius. Lou's vocal performance was brilliant in its execution and in the recording. His back up musicians were outstanding. The solo's, including the vocal solos, were delightful in their musicality and originality. Schnabel's sets and the his daughter's performance enhanced the visual pleasure created through simple unaffected camera work superbly shot and edited. Ask me if I liked it.
I wish I could give more than 10! I can't understand why anyone says
that Lou Reed is an "indifferent performer". It is his laid-back,
laconic style, whilst delivering lyrics of such power and dark energy
that makes him the genius he is. I loved this film and was particularly
moved by Antony's beautiful and original "Candy Says".... Schnabel and
Reed made the perfect film partnership.
Everything Reed has done, from his early days with the V.U., is brilliant, and what I admire particularly is the huge variation in genre, in both the music and the content of his songs. There is the less well know album in homage to Warhol, for instance, not often mentioned, but containing some wonderful lyrics and also collaborating with the great John Kale. Reed is God.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lou Reed's Berlin", directed by Julian Schnabel, only shows the concert, filmed on five different evenings in St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York. There are no interviews or anything, just some text at the beginning of the movie informs the audience about the basic facts for "Berlin", Lou Reed's 1973 album, that is a prime example for misunderstood artistic intention. It was neither a commercial nor a critical success. Over the years, of course, things have changed and today "Berlin" is seen for what it is: A classic album with very dark atmosphere. Lola Schnabel, Julian's daughter, filmed abstract visuals fitting to the song lyrics (with Emmanuelle Seigner). These visuals are kept much brighter, also as a contradiction to the dark lyrics. Julian Schnabel leaves out the concert audience nearly completely and lets the camera concentrate on faces and hands on stage. If you like the film, you will like it for the music, as I did. The band obviously has fun playing together, Antony Hegarty has some perfect moments. A concert movie, amazing to relax.
Julian Schnabel might have been the most annoying New York artist of the Eighties, but he has really blossomed as a movie director. Concert films don't usually show much visual style, but here Schnabel has worked out a distinctive look for the movie that is entrancing without ever being intrusive or flashy-for-the-sake-of-flashiness. Of course, it helps that he's got a great series of songs to film: the Berlin album is one of those rock masterpieces that has grown over time, and it's almost reassuring to know that it was trashed by critics when it came out, since Lou Reed is so clearly having the last laugh on them now. Reed, as it turns out, has become an even more compelling camera subject than when he was young and a little too pretty for his own good. Here, he looks both ravaged and utterly determined to give every song his absolute best. It's bracing to see an artist who has sometimes thrown his talent away for the sake of looking cool now grab hold of the best he's got with such energy and devotion. There's weariness in his face, but no defeat, and Berlin's relentlessly downbeat lyrics remind us that, at its best, great rock music has always had the ability to take our losses and pain and make something beautiful out of them, without sugar-coating them with sentimentality or fake uplift.
This is a film of Lou Reed performing his 1973 album "Berlin", along with images in the background of actress Emmanuelle Seigner (different ones, not a continuous film). On stage there is a great band (Fernando Saunders and Tony Smith are a great rhythm section), but the revelation is guitarist Steve Hunter, who was the main player on "Berlin". Where has he been lately, he still sounds great. There are also string and horn players, as well as a choir. If you're a fan of Lou's, you'll like this. If you aren't, you'll appreciate the musicianship, but not the music. Lou Reed is such an indifferent performer. As a longtime fan (I was too young for the Velvets, but know him from "Street Hassle" on), I've always felt that Lou plays it way too straight. He is just not that dynamic, its not like watching Springsteen, Billy Joel, i.e. artists that sound like the music greatly moves them. This detracts from the power of "Berlin". Steve Hunter provides most of the great guitar work (Lou is a great rhythm guitar player, so that makes sense), and I did appreciate this film. Particularly, "How Do You Think It Feels" and "The Bed" sound great with this group, but you'll never be able to replicate the harrowing "The Kids" live. If you've heard the studio version, you'll know what I mean. So, this is it: Dust off your copy of "Berlin", then watch this film. If you're a fan, you'll like it a lot. If you aren't, this won't convert you. You can still appreciate the music, though. I liked it. Its meant to be played loud.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was one of my favourite films of last year, Lou Reed's Berlin is an amazing album, so imagine my excitement when I hear the director of 'Diving Bell' Julian Schnabel is set to make a film of the concert that Lou is performing at St.Ann's Warehouse, Brooklyn, New York. So can the visionary director make the 1973 concept album into a decent film? Can the musicians replicate the record on stage? Let me answer the second question first. The band fronted by Lou are all great musicians and with the addition of Anthony (of Anthony and the Johnsons) they do come as close as they can without upsetting any children (rumour has it that the children's cries on 'Kids' are real as they were told their parents were dead, locked in a cupboard and recorded through the door). Which is all well and good but does it make for good viewing? Well to be honest no, as much as I like the music and the director's style it comes across as boring and pretentious. Lou is hardly the most animated man and when he's not looking like Jerry Springer he resembles an embarrassing Geography teacher fronting a band of lab technicians. With very little to work with from the band Julian instead plumps for using projections, colour filters and out of focus shots, which is fine to start with but after half an hour or so my attention span was already waning and there was still nearly an hour to go. With 'Diving Bell' Julian managed to make a whole film about a guy who can only blink with one eye, so maybe he thought he could conjure up something from nothing here but sadly for all his talents he cant and despite all involved the film falls flat. Die hard fans will probably lap it up but don't expect anyone to suddenly start worshipping at the church of Reed if they haven't before. The film has a great soundtrack though so I recommend just putting that on while you do the ironing or something, that way you get the great songs without the tedious visuals. A disappointing shame considering.
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