July 30, 2014

Film Review: Neil Young Back To Square One­­­

 

PHOTO COURTESY SONY PICTURES CLASSICS

Film Review: Neil Young Back To Square One­­­

Neil Young travels back to his old stomping grounds in the roaring documentary, Neil Young Journeys.

Does there really need to be a reason to see Neil Young jam? No, but it’s always nice to have one in pocket just in case someone asks.

Documented by Jonathan Demme (Rachel Getting Married, Silence of the Lambs), Neil Young Journeys is the third collaboration between director and musician.

The premise for Journeys is Young taking a trip down memory lane as he drives from his hometown of Omemee, Ontario [Canada] to Toronto’s iconic Massey Hall wrapping the final two nights of his Le Noise tour.

Young makes stops along the way chronicling the inspiration for some of his best and other well known songs that shaped the artist he has become. It’s refreshing to see a prolific auteur like Young shed even more layers of himself.

While Journeys shows an intimate portrait of an artist, Demme and director of photography Declan Quinn also showcase a musician at the height of his powers.

The concert footage is simply stunning as the audience truly feels like they’re at the show. Quinn puts you in the front row as Demme adds layer of ambience to make you feel like Young is playing for an audience of one.

All the movie magic in the world wouldn’t mean much if there wasn’t anything interesting in front of the camera and Young delivers. We see the guitarist in multiple styles: The auteur sharing a moment and baring his soul; the sweaty, gritty rocker still going strong; and (my favorite) the guitar god effortlessly shifting between campfire acoustic and cranking out waves of feedback.

What also stands out is the dearth of vintage Neil Young rockers. Ohio and Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black) make their way into the set list, but most of the concert focuses on Young’s 2010 release, Le Noise. Songs as powerful as “Love and War” and “Hitchhiker” show an artist still in his zenith well into his fourth decade.

Father Time has nothing on Neil Young and Journeys is a welcome treat for the ardent fan, as well as a great entry point for the novice rocker.