An expatriate Russian dancer is on a plane forced to land on Soviet territory. He is taken to an apartment in which a black American who has married a Russian woman lives with her. He is to... See full summary »
St. Louis, Missouri. For Chuck Berry's 60th birthday, Keith Richards assembles a pickup band of Robert Cray, Joey Spampinato, Eric Clapton, himself, and longtime pianist Johnnie Johnson. Joined on stage by Etta James, Linda Ronstadt and Julian Lennon, Berry performs his classic rock songs. His abilities as a composer, lyricist, singer, musician and entertainer are on display and, in behind-the-scenes interviews, are discussed by Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, the Everly Brothers, Bruce Springsteen and others. There's even a rarity for Berry, a rehearsal. Archival footage from the early 1950s and a duet with John Lennon round out this portrait of a master.Written by
With the event of his 60th Birthday, Chuck Berry organising a special concert with the help of some very famous friends and colleagues. This film follows the rehearsals for that concert as well as the show itself while also taking time to interview Berry's peers, family and friends to get a picture of the man himself.
Although I'm not a huge fan of Berry's, I do enjoy his music and am also interested in the man himself. It is for this reason that I watched Hail, Hail Rock n' Roll despite not really knowing what angle it was coming from. The film works well with the backdrop of the 60th birthday concert and gets access to see Berry at work, and thus see what an ass he can be! The rehearsal scenes are the most enjoyable as stars such as Keith Richards and Eric Clapton are frustrated by Berry's approach. However what the film fails to do is really go beyond what Berry either wants to show or can't help but show. Discussions over his marriage and his run-ins with the police are quickly brought to a halt.
There is much of interest early on and many of the interviews with other stars are really interesting to a point. The second half of the film is mostly taken up with the concert and sadly most of it isn't as good as you'd hope it to be. All the instruments are great and Berry is a good showman but his voice is not as strong or as effective as it once was and it shows in some of his songs. Happily the influence of others and his basic talents as a musician and showman help cover the odd shaky moment.
Overall I felt that I didn't really know much more about Berry than I did before I watched the film. I got a reasonable impression of what type of person he is but I didn't know too much about his past especially anything that he clearly didn't want to be discussed or shown. The music is good despite some of his songs being a bit less than he would have hoped, and the film is worth watching if you have more than a passing interest or appreciation for the music involved.
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