Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Chocolate Subway, Marshmallow Overcoat. Those kind of names, you know?

The Last Waltz (1978)
Chosen by Caleb Bailey who had, well a lot to say about it so I'm going to put it after the picture.

Caleb says: 'When I say (in true 1960s style) that "I dig The Band", the most common response is, "what band?". That would be this band - four Canadians and an Arkansas farmboy, gradually assembled by Ronnie Hawkins before being poached by Dylan (these are the boys who helped ol' Bob 'go electric'), before ultimately making some beautiful music in their own right. This is their final concert; a fantastic concoction of roots, blues, country, funk, rock 'n' roll, soul and, of course, a last waltz. Joined by a host of musical luminaries - Van Morrison, Dr. John, Clapton, Neil Young, Paul Butterfield, Neil Diamond, Muddy Waters, Emmylou Harris and, well, and Ringo Starr - this is a fitting, kinetic, kaleidoscopic tribute to The Band and their distinctive brand of music. Okay, so I'm supposed to be recommending the film, not the music...Well, what can I say, Scorsese's direction is sublime, choreographed to within an inch of its life: cameras glide on rails, along pre-planned routes, ignoring the audience (usually a primary focus for most concert films) and focusing on the natural musical skills of its subjects, their telepathic understanding of each other, and the vastly differing takes on showmanship of their guests. The intercut interviews with The Band are certainly cornball - unnecessarily fawning even - and clearly ripe for the later lampooning that Rob Reiner/Marti DeBergi provided a few years later. But, forget 'Tap', there's none more The Band.'

Well there's little for me to add really, Caleb pretty much hits the nail on the head. I'm not sure I've ever watched a concert film before (sure something will come to mind the second i post this) and can't believe that it took me so long to see this (there's still a couple of other Scorsese gaps I should fill actually) but it's rather excellent. The music is terrific and it really captures a time and place beautifully whilst barely leaving a concert hall. Some of the finest D.P.s worked on this and it shows being both incredibly personal and grandiose at the same time.
And good lord, Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters is amazing.

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