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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Review: 'Neil Young Trunk Show: Scenes from a Concert'


This is the way all reviews should be written.

From Chicago Tribune: Turn It Up - Movie review: 'Neil Young Trunk Show: Scenes from a Concert' by the esteemed Greg Kot:
In the transcendent scene from Jonathan Demme’s “Neil Young Trunk Show: Scenes from a Concert,” which opens Friday in theaters, the director and guitarist take the viewer on an epic tour of a song called “No Hidden Path.”

His gray hair like a halo of straw illuminated by the lights, a hunched-over Young stalks the stage while coaxing clusters of melody or abrasive howls from his guitar. He is a picture of disheveled concentration, eyes ablaze yet turned inward, immersed completely in the strings, the sound, the moment, blanking out all distraction. He huddles with his band as they play, drawing them into his orbit, then spinning away. He leans toward the drum riser, occasionally making eye contact with drummer Ralph Molina, who slams away beneath a fluttering Jolly Roger flag.

Demme’s cameras do not break away to survey the crowd, or jump-cut nervously from one musician to another. Instead, they calmly allow the viewer to observe the song’s unfolding drama, a series of ebbs and surges spanning a quarter-hour. The director’s intense, unswerving gaze matches Young’s own. His close-ups hold a moment until we can see beads of sweat on the guitarist’s weathered skin, then pull away slowly to reveal the faces of all the band members caught up in the moment alongside him. Young keeps digging deeper inside the song until he’s exhausted every possibility, savoring every note until the last lingering moan of distortion.

We can only add -- having attended both night of the filming at the Tower Theater -- that Kot's review only begins to capture that sense of magic when Neil goes into "the zone". We've witnessed directly many such occasions when Neil goes transcendentally into "the zone", but on these 2 nights in Philadelphia, Neil went into yet another dimension of unclaimed territory.

From another review on The Reelife Blog: My Cinematic Heros at the Coolidge Corner Theater, a video summarizing a remarkable night at the Coolidge Corner Theater (Brookline, MA, USA) that include Jonathan Demme, Robyn Hitchcock, & Declan Quinn. This is definitely worth checking out just for Demme's heartfelt tribute to L.A. Johnson. Thanks Tom!

From Trunk Show Boston Screening with Director Jonathan Demme and Robyn Hitchcock comment by Mr Henry said...

Let it be known that this is really a beautiful film. I was fortunate to attend the Coolidge showing and was blown away by the power and artistry. Neil and Jonathan Demme together...when Bach spoke of the harmonic third voice, he probably never envisioned quite such a pair.

Lately I've been fixing up some fences, removing lots of crud and mildew by painting a heavy bleach solution on the pickets. Once you see the beauty of the wood exposed, it makes the whole yard look much better. That's what it's like with the songs in this film...feels like Neil is trying to "burn off all the fog" and get to the pure center of his art. Thanks to everyone who captured this for all to see.

From Philadelphia Inquirer | Director Demme can't get enough of that Neil Young By Dan DeLuca:
Q: In Trunk Show you captured one of those monster jams in its entirety. 'No Hidden Path' lasts for 23 minutes.

Demme: When we filmed 'No Hidden Path,' I thought, obviously this is too long to be in a movie. But what if it could be? So in the cutting room, what we wound up doing was justifying our choices by saying, how do we get 'No Hidden Path' in there? There's no rule that you have to be chronological, or acoustic comes first, and electric last. So we kept alternating, and altering the mood. But it had everything to do with justifying this giant epic in the middle.

Q: Why did you shoot it at the Tower?

Demme: Neil's thing was, 'I want to play in theaters where there are lots of ghosts.' Not just rock-and-roll, but classical, vaudeville, whatever. . . . You'll see there's some grainy footage in there, shot from the balcony. Those are ghost views, suggesting the ghosts came out and watched a little bit of the show. Neil conceived of it as a valentine to performers, and performance. I like that and I was moved by it. The Tower was a two-night stand, and Neil thought it was particularly beautiful. So we jumped on the train from New York and came down, set up and shot."

Photo by Larry Cragg

UPDATE: Neil Young News: Trunk Show Film Screening Dates

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At 3/17/2010 11:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wooooohaaaaa, Thrasher! Great review, but that's 100% true what you write in your response: "We can only add that Kot's review only begins to capture that sense of magic when Neil goes into "the zone"."

It only begins to capture that sense of magic.
I really hope Demme did get it on celluloid....

Show Me The Way! No Hidden Path Forever!

Because Sound Matters

At 3/17/2010 03:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I WANT TO SEE THIS SO BAD! But I'll have to wait for a dvd! GAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!


At 3/17/2010 06:24:00 PM, Blogger mshare said...

Looks like the E St Cinema in DC is going to show the film (even though it was taken off the list at the trunkshow website) - anybody up for a 3:40 early start to the weekend on Friday? A few of us who are potentially in the crowd scenes will be there to relive the ragged glory!

At 3/18/2010 10:55:00 AM, Anonymous cosplusisin said...

For anyone interested in seeing it in Canada...

I found the following information (at

Vancity, Vancouver: March 5 / March 26 - April 1

The Royal, Toronto: Opens March 26

Cinematheque Winnipeg: March 26, 27, 28, 31, and April 1 @ 7:00 PM & 9:15 PM
(Sun. Mar 28- 7:00 PM only)
April 2,3, 7 & 8 / 9:00 PM

Princess Cinema, Waterloo: April 8 - 12

Broadway Theatre, Saskatoon: April 16 - 29

Mayfair, Ottawa: April 16, 17 & 18

Cinema du Parc, Montreal: May 13 @ 9pm / May 21 -27

At 3/19/2010 07:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Landmark Theatres and Gibson will be giving away a Gibson USA Les Paul Jr guitar signed by legend, Neil Young. This special L.A.-only giveaway to an audience member will happen on opening night of NEIL YOUNG TRUNK SHOW at the Nuart, Friday, March 19 during the 7:30pm show! For tickets visit:

At 4/27/2011 10:30:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thrasher. Could you start a petition similar to Time Fades Away for the release of Trunk Show? Seriously. I'm dead serious. I'm not joking.

Please?! You have the power. TRUNK SHOW damnit. It was never in a theater in my area or I would have gone. Hey, Neil's people. Are you reading this? You still have a damn web page up for it with all the glowing reviews. Might as well take the official site down. It's a bit dated. Or better yet, update the website with the DVD release date and get it out there already!!!! Please and Thanks!!


At 4/28/2011 09:31:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher said...

@sjames - great idea! But i've got a lot going on.

It's easy to start something on Facebook.

Email & be glad to walk you through it.

At 6/04/2011 03:33:00 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

hey guys, did you get the fsacebook petition going? i too am KEEN AS HELL, being in Austrlia to see this thing on Blu-Ray


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