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Melancholy in shape, but still hopeful, Crosby’s willingness to bare naked his personal struggles on-camera makes for a truly poignant movie.
The typical trappings of a reflective documentary about a larger-than-life star are all there, from nods to the weight of stardom and how political leanings can both help and harm a talent on the rise, but they’re made bigger and richer because it’s Crosby who is acknowledging them, unblinking.
What makes David Crosby: Remember My Name one of the best rock documentaries of all time is the no-bull immediacy of the filmmaking.
While the documentary does conjure up the whole sex-drugs-rock ’n’ roll ethos of that fabled time with great flair and pungency, it also movingly probes the hazards and costs of the overindulgence and self-deceptions the era’s lures often entailed. In essence, it serves up the myth and a necessary corrective to it simultaneously.
As much as the film celebrates his creativity and gazes unflinchingly at his failings, it also functions as a valedictory, almost a requiem of sorts. Think of it as the film version of the final albums made by Leonard Cohen and David Bowie, who made wrenching final statements that they likely knew would be their last.
Remember My Name still works magnificently as a tragicomic character sketch.
In David Crosby: Remember My Name, Crosby is more than just a rock ‘n’ roll survivor nursing a lifetime of second thoughts. He’s a romantic witness to a time that was genuinely about following the road of excess to the palace of wisdom.
Remarkably, it never comes across as fawning or hagiographic. Instead, Crosby and his interviewers collaborate to create something that feels honest and insightful.
Produced by Cameron Crowe, who interviewed Crosby as a young journalist for Rolling Stone in 1974, the film spins a powerful and enlightening fable about the ultimate cost of survival. It’s about what happens when the most reckless and bridge-burning among us ends up being rock’s Harry Potter — i.e. the boy who lives — and must sift through the guilt and wreckage of all the relationships left in his wake.
Fans will enjoy the backstage access, the home movies, the snapshots and the reminiscences, but the movie keeps you at a distance, while implying that it may be just as well not to get too close.

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