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Saturday, March 14, 2020

STREAMING THIS WEEKEND: "Neil Young: Heart of Gold" Film + Reviews

"Neil Young: Heart of Gold" Film

This weekend, the concert film "Neil Young: Heart of Gold", directed by Jonathan Demme, will be streaming on Hearse Theater | NYA.

Therefore, mining and metallurgy metaphors coming your way.

Back in 2006, movie reviews for "Neil Young: Heart of Gold" were virtually unanimous in singing the film's praises -- and critics were nearly unanimous in using mining and metallurgy metaphor phrases like "glittering gold" and "strikes gold" in reviews.


Here's a sample of some of the reviews for the Jonathan Demme film of the 2005 Nashville Ryman concerts.

From New York Metro review "Young at Heart: Jonathan Demme syncs up perfectly with Neil Young" by David Edelstein:
"Among the achievements of Neil Young: Heart of Gold is that it triumphs over its exalted press notes, which describe it as "a groundbreaking union of film and music ministered by Jonathan Demme and Neil Young." Ministered, huh? I've always
preferred my country-rock with a grain of sulphur, but the Reverend Demme's track record with concert films (chiefly that celebration of transcendental alienation Stop Making Sense) is as good as anyone's, and the Reverend Young, bouncing back from a brain aneurysm, has certainly earned the right to take the long view. And by the time the director gets to Young and his musical family standing around tuning their instruments - it's right before an August 2005 Nashville performance of Young's latest album, Prairie Wind, at one of the former sites of the Grand Ole Opry - you get an inkling of the movie's fluid grace."

From review "'Neil Young: Heart Of Gold': The Magic Of Music Made Visible" by Kurt Loder:
"'Heart of Gold' isn't quite like any other concert movie. There are no frantic edits, no showy montages, no swooping pans across a cheering audience. (In fact, the audience isn't even shown.) The picture was shot entirely with long-range lenses, which means there were no cameramen scurrying around the stage to distract the musicians. The performances move forward in long, serene takes, and the result is a film that focuses completely on the playing and singing. The musicians' empathic interaction is revelatory."

From The New Yorker review by DAVID DENBY:
"Demme keeps the cameras right in front of the performers, and he avoids the stale rock-concert ecstasy of swooping and swivelling and shooting into the lights. Nothing in this movie is aggressively sold; nothing in it is intended to change your life. The attitude is "Take it or leave it -- this is what Neil Young is."

Ignoring the audience in the hall, Demme concentrates on the music and the lyrics and the relations between Young and members of the band -- sometimes just a nod, a smile, a raised eyebrow. Since the sound is unusually clear as well as full, one can actually hear the lyrics in all their mournful near poetry. One might call "Neil Young: Heart of Gold" soothing, even becalmed, but mellowness and ripeness, when they exist at this high level of craft, should have their season, too."

Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN Concerts - Septemeber 2005 review "Forever Young - Jonathan Demme captures Neil Young at his best in Heart of Gold" by Stephen Cole:
"Elegantly lit and handsomely staged in the neo-classical country style Young intended — no haystacks or sequins! — this concert film has the burnished glow of a Vincente Minnelli MGM Technicolor musical from the 1950s. And no one seems happier to be transported back in time than Young, decked out in a pewter swallowtail coat and wide-brimmed gaucho hat, as he sidles up to prim and pretty cowgirl Emmylou Harris for an old-fashioned duet."

Neil Young and Emmylou Harris
Guess who has 11 Grammy Awards and which one has zero?
From New York Times review "A Weathered Rocker but Still Unbowed" By MANOHLA DARGIS:
"In 'Neil Young: Heart of Gold,' the colors shift from ocher to shades of blue as the mood shifts from plaintive to rueful. Every so often a scrim slides awkwardly into place behind the musicians and a painted train cutting across a prairie is replaced with an interior scene of a skinny cat, a fat chair and a fireplace. The show's simplicity and homespun vibe serve Mr. Young's emotionally tremulous songs, both the new and the old, wonderfully well. At one point, during one of his occasional verbal rambles, he says half-jokingly, half-defensively that he's got some love songs left in him. This film, which is at once a valentine from one artist to another and a valentine from a musician to his audience, is surely proof that he does."

From The Washington Post "Neil Young film becomes American family affair" by Bob Tourtellotte:
"Neil Young, iconoclastic troubadour for decades of counter-culture in the United States, has made the ultimate American family film.

It seems ironic, but it is true, says Jonathan Demme, who directed "Neil Young: Heart of Gold," which is now playing in U.S. theaters.

The term "family film" is associated with Disney and Pixar and huggable stuffed toys. Young's song "Needle and the Damage Done" speaks to heroin addiction, and he will forever be linked to 1960s and 1970s anti-war protests with songs like "Ohio" from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. And since then, the 60-year-old has only grown in stature to become a standard bearer for angst-ridden teen rockers.

Yet, in "Heart of Gold," the Canadian-born Young and Demme have created what they term a "dream concert" of songs from his recent "Prairie Wind" album and older "Harvest" and "Harvest Moon" records that conjure spirits of country-and-western music's past and harken to a simple life in the North American heartland.

"It puts me in touch with some deeply felt, old-fashioned, powerful ideas about what America stands for, what the family stands for, what friends stand for," Demme told Reuters in a joint interview with Young. "There's a complete absence of cynicism. I think it makes you feel good to be human."


From review "Being Neil Young: A Survivor's Song" BY JAN STUART:
"You don't have to be a Neil Young fan or contemporary to be deeply moved by the prescience of these songs or the affirming presence of his back-up singer wife, Pegi, his friend Emmylou Harris (who provides memorable assist on "This Old Guitar") and a graying fraternity of studio-musician pals from the year one. To see and hear "Neil Young: Heart of Gold" is like soaking in a warm tub filled to the brim with luxuriant, life-restoring music."

From LA Daily News "Forever Neil Young" by Fred Shuster:
"It was a very personal performance, like my club performances before I became well-known, before people developed preconceptions of who I am," Young, 60, said from his home near San Francisco. "The idea was based on the old folk tradition where you'd talk a little about a new song before you'd play it. Very much in the Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan tradition - although Bob never talked that much - in the fact we were doing all new songs for an audience that had never heard them before. This was a crowd who knew what to expect - it wasn't a crowd yelling for 'Heart of Gold.' "


From Village Voice review "Long May He Run: At 60, a not-so-young Neil confronts death with elegiac hymns to family, friendship, and love" by Tom Charity:
"Plaintive and valedictory, Prairie Wind unfolds as a testament: Almost all the songs default to the first-person singular, and judging by Young's simple, straightforward intros, he means them to be understood as such. "Here for You" is dedicated to a daughter who has left home. "Far From Home" is about the right resting place, and "This Old Guitar" is a tribute to the instrument he "inherited" from Hank Williams and will pass on in turn one of these days. Mortality and remembrance are abiding themes; abiding is another."

"Thanks to Jonathan Demme for making this picture. Johnathan was so supportive of my music.
I will never forget what he did for me."
- NY
Neil Young & Jonathan Demme

"Heart of Gold" Premieres at Sundance Film Festival - 2006

From Rolling Stone review by Peter Travers:
"The first half consists of songs from Prairie Wind, the album Young recorded last year after a brain aneurysm threatened to call him out before he hit sixty.

Screw that. With a voice that still stands up to the country-rock throb he coaxes out of his guitar, Young lets his new songs of hard and high living on the Canadian plains bleed into the classics he wrote for Harvest and Harvest Moon. Demme is there to catch every note of bruising beauty. You don't just hear it in the music, you see it etched in Young's face. This is more than a movie, it's a privilege."

On The Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum ChuckHD28 posts on a preview screening:
"The whole package draws you in and has you believing that you have the best seat in the house. The shots Demme captures are of intimate moments. Intimate moments between and among the musicians, their music and the audience. Knowing looks, smiles and nods among and between performers. That innate sign language between a leader and his band. Count it out Chad, enter now Keith, all finish. Almost indetectable inflections that the all together ensemble reads in near perfect harmony.

Oh, and since there might be a couple of people here who have some interest in Martin guitars, I suppose I should mention the Martins. Neil's 1941 'bone and his Longworth era D-45 are featured, as well as a new, (as it looked to me) D-28 (rosewood D with a black pickguard), that Pegi Young played for a couple of tunes. Of course, Neil mentioned that the 'bone once belonged to Hank Williams and that this was likely the first performance the Ryman had seen of this guitar since Hank Williams, Sr. last performed there. BTW, also on stage playing guitar was Grant Boatright, the gent responsible for introducing Neil to Tut Taylor and "Hank" back in the early 70's."

From Chromewaves "I've Been A Miner For A Heart Of Gold", Frank blogs:
"There's a real serenity and vulnerability about Neil in these performances, in both the songs and the somewhat surprising openness of the between-song dialogue - it's a real celebration of his life, his family and friends. The first half of the film is all new material, but later on he gets into some classic acoustic material which sounds so good, it might well bring a tear to your eye.

On the visual front, the film is appropriately understated, using slow cuts and tight close-ups on the performers in conjunction with simple but warm stage and costume design to create an intimate, elegiac and down-home atmosphere perfectly suited to the mood and setting of the Grand Ole Opry. Most past tour films featuring Neil have concentrated on trying to capture the chaos of his electrified Crazy Horse material, and justifiably so - the Horse in action is something to behold. But Demme shows that Neil Young the folksinger is just as electrifying on the screen as the ragged rocker, though in a completely different way. This is a very special film, not just for the quality of the music but for capturing a brilliant artist at a very key point in his life and his career. Definitely worth seeing for any Neil fan, and stay for the closing credits - they're mesmerizing."

From Chicago Tribune review "For Young and Demme, `Heart' a dream project" by Mark Caro:
"To make a "Prairie Wind" movie, Young said he and Demme batted around several ideas, including a plan to "film all kinds of things in Canada and find old stock footage and go back to the Indians." But, he added, "we elected to just let the music speak."

"There's so much dream imagery and dream themes throughout so many of the songs," Demme added. "At a certain point, I think we were joking, it was like, `Hey, let's make it a dream concert!' The great part is it's Neil Young's dream. Nothing will go wrong. It'll be the perfect musicians. It'll be the perfect venue.'"

Young said, "Let's make a movie that looks like a dream concert that is something that, if I closed my eyes and thought of the best way I could see to do a concert at that time, that would be it."

So Young lined up his band from "Prairie Wind" -- a collection of veteran rock, country and soul players who have backed him in the past, including keyboardist Spooner Oldham, steel guitarist Ben Keith and the Memphis Horns -- and booked the historic, acoustically pristine Ryman for two August performances. Meanwhile, Young and Demme conceived of the concert in cinematic terms.

Young's ambition to make unified albums meant to be heard (or seen) in their entirety can be interpreted as yet another against-the-grain move by this maverick musician. This is the iPod age, after all, when songs are sold individually and scrambled according to the listener's whims.

But when you watch "Heart of Gold," you have to go on Young's emotional journey as he designed it.

"It forces it to be an album," Young said. "You go to the film, you have no choice.

"You can't shuffle `Heart of Gold.' You can't shuffle that sucker. You can't take it with you -- at this point, anyway." "

From Philadelphia Inquirer review "Making a concert film come alive" by Dan DeLuca (via Largehearted Boy):
"Demme proclaims himself 'perfectly happy' with Heart of Gold.

'In fact, I think I'm more happy with it than anything I've ever done,' he says. 'My whole position was that if Neil Young is actually going to agree to let me film him performing, then I want him to love this movie, and reflect what he cares about... . I didn't want to impose my thing. I wanted to memorialize his thing.'"

Musician Neil Young and Director Jonathan Demme - 2012
(Film Director Jonathan Demme Passes At Age 73)

From Ain't it Cool News by MiraJeff:
Neil Young fans will be pleased.

I saw the film at the Paramount Screening Room and the sound was incredible. If this film sneaks into a multiplex in addition to the art-house theaters, see it at theater with better sound. The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville was the original home of the Grand Ole Opry, and the acoustics are incredible. The sound in this movie is like another Neil… a Diamond. It’s gorgeous. You can even hear maracas shaking, and honestly, who doesn’t like maracas? Granted at 103 minutes, I think the film runs a song or two too long. By the end of it, Neil Young has kind of worn out his welcome, but then again, I’d much rather pay for 10 bucks for 103 minutes of Neil Young than 50 bucks (probably) for a 75-minute Weezer concert, which trust me, is generous for them. The one big question about this film is, why do we need it? Why now? Why Prairie Wind? At a concert, you’re with your buddies, you’re under an influence or two (hopefully), and you can talk, which you can’t do at a movie. I admit to looking at my watch several times and I noticed a few other critics doing it too. As a theatrical experience, it drags a bit, especially if you don’t like one of his songs. However my roommate Anders Hester, lead singer of The Alright Ma’s, went to the screening with me and being a huge Neil Young fan and having gone to several shows, said it was the most vulnerable he’d ever seen Neil Young, who in his opinion, plays one of his best shows. Obviously, there will be differences of opinion depending on your allegiance to Neil Young.

If you’re still on the fence about seeing this movie and you’re a guy, I’ll recommend it because of one musician I haven’t mentioned yet. Emmylou Harris. This woman is stunning. Incredibly beautiful. I have no idea how old she is and out of respect, I won’t look it up on the Internet for this review. I have a newfound appreciation for this woman. I didn’t even realize she’s won 11 Grammys. A bunch of other cool guitar, harp, and broom (yes broom) players join her and Neil Young onstage. It all amounts to something special, but whether or not that magic translates to the screen well is up for debate. To each his own my mother would say, and after all, music is deeply personal. I’m not going to ruin the set list but it will please fans and semi-fans to know that he does play “Old Man,” saying that he wrote the song about a guy he bought a home from. But Heart of Gold is made up primarily of his latest album Prairie Wind (not the song, which is one of the least good in the film), the album that many consider one of the artist’s bests. To be honest the film did spike my interest and make me want to hear more, just like Walk the Line made me want to listen to Johnny Cash more. Speaking of, if someone ever has to play Neil Young in a film, I nominate Tom Wilkinson. The likeness is uncanny.

The bottom line is that to see an artist like Neil Young do what he does best, the movie is definitely worth 10 bucks. You’d pay that to hear a shitty cover band at a frat party. So ultimately, this film is critic proof, because who hates Neil Young? Who is going to pan a 2-night performance when Neil Young was scheduled to have brain surgery less than a week later? Think he had a lot on his mind? Music is the man’s sweet release, so show him a little respect and see Neil Young: Heart of Gold if you get a chance.

The Shadow of Rick "The Bass Player"

From by HERALD NEWS by Adam Zagoria:
New Jersey native Ellen Kuras, who said she listens to Young's music every day, filmed the concert portion of the movie in Super 16mm using nine cameras. The goal, according to Demme and Kuras, was to create the "dream state" evoked by many of Young's lyrics.

Before singing the title track to "Prairie Wind," Young tells the story of how his "daddy" suffered from dementia in the last part of his life.

"I know some of you know what that's like," he said. "It's something to see your loved ones living in the moment."Then he launches into the title track, singing, "Prairie wind blowing through my head/Trying to remember what my daddy said/Before too much time took away his head."

Later, Young explains how he wrote the song "Here for You" for his 21-year-old daughter, Amber, now out of the house and in her final year of college.

"There was a time I used to write songs like this for girls my own age," Young cracked, smiling toward Pegi. "It's a new genre, the 'Empty Nester,' and they might have their own radio station for 'em."

"When your summer days come tumbling down," the song goes, "and you find yourself alone/Then you can come back and be with me/Just close your eyes and I'll be there."

Prior to singing "This Old Guitar," Young explains how the guitar he is using for the concert used to belong to legendary country singer Hank Williams, who might have used it in his final appearance at the Ryman in 1951.

"The more I play it, the better it sounds," the song goes. "It cries when I leave it alone."

After completing the songs from "Prairie Wind," Young returns to his roots on "I Am A Child," "Harvest Moon" and "Heart of Gold," the first lines of which seem to have new meaning given what Young has recently gone through:

"I want to live, I want to give. I've been a miner for a heart of gold."

He wraps up the set with "Old Man," "The Needle and the Damage Done," "Old King," "Comes A Time," "Four Strong Winds" and "One of These Days."

Demme realized that another song would be needed when the film credits roll, and so he approached Young about that possibility. After saying he would think about it, Young agreed.

The result is a beautiful solo version of "The Old Laughing Lady" that Young plays on guitar while seated in a chair before an empty auditorium as the film ends. When he completes the song, the old singer puts on his hat, packs up his guitar in an old case and slowly walks off the stage.

Demme, who sat in the corner of the Ryman watching the performance, said the moment was appropriate because Young told him that after a concert, he likes to go out and look at the empty house.

"So he was essentially doing what he always does," Demme said. "And I had no idea he was going to do it."
br>More on "Heart of Gold" premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and the Nashville Ryman Concerts, the album "Prairie Wind", and the song "Heart of Gold", which inspired the film's title.

More on friendship and films of Neil Young & Jonathan Demme.

Labels: , , ,


At 3/14/2020 05:47:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

A film deserving of the hi resolution treatment with surround sound. A perfect candidate for a Blu Ray release. A magnificent film by a truly gifted director. I own the DVD, but have dreamed of it being released in hi def. It’s a perfect concert film; right up there with Stop Making Sense in my opinion. It captures a artist at a pivotal point in his life with tenderness and skill. It also features some exquisite playing by a group of talented people Neil was really comfortable with, and it shows on every song.

🤞🤞🤞for a Blu Ray some day.


At 3/15/2020 03:44:00 PM, Blogger Tim B said...

Totally agree Great film Awesome performances just love “one of these days “

At 3/15/2020 10:58:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

I detest the moronic comment from David Denby, New Yorker pseudo intellectual calling Neil's lyrics "near poetry." Tiresome idiot. I say pseudo intellectual because he has nothing of real note, no real achievement, just "criticism." And his criticism is not grounded in anything from aesthetics. My harshness comes from my desire for art and it isn't coming from people like Denby, but Neil Young has given his life to the effort. "So all you critics sit alone."


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