Netflix makes Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein bio-pic dream come true

The director of the smash “A Star is Born” rounded up some big time producers for his planned Leonard Bernstein film biography.

Spielberg and Scorsese are the two biggest names.

The famed composer, New York Philharmonic director and popularizer of classical music via TV’s “Young People’s Concerts” might not be the most commercial follow-up for a star and director at his peak. Which might be why he wasn’t able to get this project into a traditional studio’s lineup.

Cooper announced plans to film this in the spring of 2018.

Enter Netflix.

Oh, it’s totally happening now.

Posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news | Leave a comment

Movie Review: The anime sights we’ll see, “Weathering with You”

you1

It is a chilly Martin Luther King Day in America’s vacationland, and I am in a suburban multiplex with a couple of anime fans, and maybe a dozen anime apostates, all here for “Weathering with You.”

The latter group know enough to choose to be there, to buy tickets. But like me, they’re not given to swooning over something simply because it wears that “anime” badge. So while I laugh at some of the intentional gags — the 20ish journalist Natsumi who rides the young hero, 16-year-old Hodaka, with “Are you looking at my boobs?” — the rest of the audience is there to remind us of the silly, over-the-top gestures, emotions and facial expressions of this beloved Japanese art form.

This tale (in Japanese with English subtitles, dubbed in some theaters) is a romantic fantasy with a somewhat muddled environmental allegory at its heart. Writer-director Makoto Shinkai (“Your Name.”) and his animators deliver fantastical images — all manner of translucent “fish” which live in the clouds — attached to a story that otherwise could have been filmed with live actors on real sets in Kanto (the region around Tokyo).

But would anybody have given this a second thought if it wasn’t animated?

The story, which takes a solid half hour to set in, follows the runaway Hodaka from the ferry boat, which he almost falls off of during a storm, to the offices of the gruff 20something Suga, who runs a conspiracy news service for magazines, with the fetching Natsumi as his assistant.

“Are you looking at my boobs again?”

Establishing scenes offer a fascinating glimpse of how the down-and-out manage life in one of the most expensive cities on Earth — cubicle-sized apartments, cafes that feature shower services, cheap noodles eaten on the fly in a street-scene whirl of McDonald’s, Starbucks, Kent cigarettes and Suntory ads. The only words he hears from cops or potential employers are “Are you a minor?”

Tokyo is a minefield of exploitation (sex trade, etc.) for homeless minors.

A free Big Mac is how the hungry Hodaka stumbles into a doozy of a story. The McDonald’s girl who slips him the burger, Hina, has this weird gift. We’ve seen her climb to a battered rooftop shrine on an abandoned building after watching over her dying mother in a nearby hospital.

Hina’s prayers are for a break from Japan’s relentless run of rainy days. A beam of sunshine tells her, and us, that her prayers were answered.

A fortune teller relates that there are “Sunshine Girls” and “Rain Girls” who can control the weather. In the age of cell phone cameras and universal internet access, this ancient belief turns out to be easy to “prove,” and make viral.

Hodaka and Hina set up an online “Weather Maiden” service. Want to be certain your outdoor wedding or party comes off without a hitch? Need for it to be a clear day just long enough for your late husband’s spirit to come home on the anniversary of his death? Text her, pay her and she’ll make it happen.

 

The slice-of-Japanese life is one of the best features of anime, not just the photo-real streets, skyscrapers and neon. Traditions and superstitions of the “Spirited Away/My Neighbor Totoro” variety have their charms. You can lose yourself in that, here and there, in “Weathering with You.”

But that’s just background and subtext, and the movie’s text — the unconvincing love story it tries to set up, the melodramatic introduction of a handgun that falls into Hodaka’s hands, scaring off sexual exploiters but putting the cops on his tail.

There’s inherent pathos in the idea of a nation that worships “girls” to an almost creepy extent having these “Sunshine Girls” and “Rain Girls” who can, briefly, in the blush of maidenhood, influence the weather. What happens when they’re no longer girls is where the story attempts to take us.

But the storytelling is slack, and the moments of ditziness can take you right out of the film. The everyday “magic” (shades of “Kiki’s Delivery Service”) is only magical on first sight. The whole TV news broadcasting this or that bit of “conspiracy” or “magic” or proof of this supernatural belief in Japanese life is far more interesting than the meandering story and subplots Shinkai chose to develop.

It’s fanciful enough, but “Weathering with You” is too scattered with dashes of dullness making for many dead spots. It’s not on a par with virtually anything the anime master Hiyao Miyazaki made, and falls well short of the heart of  “Your name.”

It barely passes muster as a time-killer on a chilly day in America’s vacationland.

2stars1

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for suggestive material, some violence and language

Cast: The voices of Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori, Shun Oguri

Credits: Written and directed by Makoto Shinkai. A GKids/Fathom Events release.

Running time: 1:53

Posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news | Leave a comment

BOX OFFICE: “Bad Boys for Life” takes 4 Day MLK weekend with $73.4 million in tix

That makes it a January blockbuster. No wonder Sony is rushing to set up a fourth film in the Will Smith/Martin Lawrence franchise.

It achieved the second biggest Martin Luther King holiday weekend opening ever.

“Dolittle” managed $29.5 million over the four day weekend, not awful but not nearly enough.

“1917” to it’s awards season bounce tl third place. It has now earned over $81 million. “Bad Boys” made almost as much in four days. Formula and franchise matter. And stars.

https://www.boxofficemojo.com/release/rl1182631425/?ref_=bo_hm_rd

Posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news | Leave a comment

Netflixable? A Brazilian preacher-mogul tells his side of the story in “Nothing to Lose” and “Nothing to Lose 2”

lose1

Foreign language films, or “international” films as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences now calls them, immerse you in a culture, and the good ones — no matter the subject, can tell you a lot about a place without ever visiting.

Brazil is very much on the cinema buff’s radar this winter, thanks to the Oscar contending documentary, “The Edge of Democracy,” about the one-time dictatorship’s loss of democratic rule to a recognizable alliance of the very rich, the very racist and the exceptionally gullible.

And then there’s the scalding “Christmas special” titled “The First Temptation of Christ,” which drew violence and protests in Brazil and calls for a Netflix boycott in the U.S. when it popped up on the choices of the easily-offended this holiday season.

Both those films are instructive if you choose, as I did, to do a deep dive in Brazil via Netflix offering the paired preacher bio-pics “Nothing to Lose” and “Nothing to Lose 2.”

I’d never heard of the charismatic and “entrepreneureal” Protestant preacher Edir Macedo, who megachurch-based media empire made him famous and rich, and attracted unwanted attention from Brazil’s government and supposedly its Catholic Church.

He looked at the rituals of Catholicism, as practiced in the backward Brazil of his youth, and found his calling — preaching the gospel, in parks and street-corners, practicing direct action Christianity by caring for the homeless, failing healing, etc.

And by the ’80s he was such a “threat” he was getting hounded by the government, eventually jailed under charges of money laundering and a laundry list of other infractions.

But when your ministry is as rich as his, with his own TV channel at home, adjunct ministries around the world, you can do what Billy Graham and the Mormon Church have done in the U.S. — put your message, your “version of the story,” into movie theaters.

The two films cover much of the same ground, stories dominated by Macedo’s persecution — or persecution complex — and depiction of his indomitable spirit.

“I like to say I have broad shoulders,” “Bishop” Macedo (Petrônio Gontijo) modestly declares (in dubbed English if you choose, or the original Portuguese). “It’s one of my duties, to be a lightning rod for the church!”

“If Jesus had his disappointments, why shouldn’t we? We trust the Holy Spirit, and he is leading this mission!”

The films are both artless exercises in agitprop, the dialogue dull, scenes flatly staged and shot in soap opera fashion — save for the sermons, the arrests and a little trip this modern day prophet took in imitation of his idol.

Gontijo comes off as far more convincing and “charismatic” in the original Portuguese, however. And even though the films recycle the persecution, with mustache twirling police, state and Catholic officials scheming to find something to charge Macedo and his “cult” with, and him blithely telling his inner circle the obvious.

“It’s obvious they want to attack me…So much disrespect for the Bible!”

“Nothing to Lose 2” is one of the most pointless sequels ever, as it recovers too much of the same persecuted and rising above it ground.

But “Nothing to Lose” is far more interesting, as “origin stories” inevitably are. We see Macedo’s doted-on childhood, kid teasing him with the nickname “Pinky,” and his teen awakening to the puzzling hilarity of all these rituals on the Catholic calendar — parades with statues of the corpse of Jesus, or of the virginal Mary.

“Is God dead or alive, Dad? If the Bible is true, to make people believe in the image of a DEAD God makes no sense!”

He starts showing up at altar calls in a local Protestant church, finds the woman who shares his beliefs and his life, Esther (Day Mesquita), starts pulling homeless people into the church he’s attending, and when that’s frowned on, sets up on his own.

Can assuming the title “Bishop” be far behind? Jesus went to Sinai for his moment of truth. Macedo and his entourage take a Cook’s Tour just to walk the same path — if only briefly.

And how can a man get this rich if he’s really that busy helping the poor in a country where poverty is as racial (virtually no black Brazilian faces show up in either film) as it is endemic?

But if there’s nothing else one takes away from “The Edge of Democracy,” it’s that the powers that be have been paranoid about anybody mobilizing a great following, and that as we learned from “The First Temptation,” people there take their religion violently serious.

So the movies neither make the case that Macedo is the con man the government says he is, nor gives him self-manufactured, self-financed exoneration.

And both are dull enough that the reports out of Brazil, that his Universal Church of the Kingdom of God made the films, bought out theaters to show it, gave away tickets to both films, and still couldn’t get people to show up.

Seeing the movies, you understand. As a movie producer, Bishop Edir Macedo is still just a street corner preacher with a megaphone — small time.

“Nothing to Lose”

1half-star

“Nothing to Lose 2”

1star6

MPAA Rating: PG, and PG-13, violence and thematic elements

Cast: Petrônio Gontijo, Day Mesquita

Credits: Both films directed by Alexandre Avancini, scripted by Stephen P. Lindsey and Emílio Boechat , based on the memoirs of Edir Macedo .

“Nothing to Lose” running time: 2:14

“Nothing to Lose 2” running time: 1:36

Day Mesquita
Posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news | Leave a comment

“Parasite,” Zellweger, Phoenix, Pitt and Dern win the 2020 SAG Awards

It all seems cut and dried as far as acting awards go, doesn’t it?

Same winners, show after show after show.

But Best Picture seems like a three picture race, thanks to that Sscreen Actors Guild (SAG) award for best ensemble last night.

Editors, producers and other guilds narrowed the field to “1917” and “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” — but the largest guild of all goes for “Parasite,” a most worthy winner.

“Once Upon a Time…” seems like more more of a long shot. “Little Women” canot elbow it’s way into tje conversation.

Brad Pitt and Joaquin Phoenix have been giving wonderful speeches. Renee and Laura might want to step up their game.

There were of course TV winners as well. Go to the link to see Jennifer Aniston, “Fleabag,” “Mrs. Maisel” and “The Crown” celebrated.

https://deadline.com/2020/01/2020-sag-awards-winners-list-screen-actors-guild-1202835426/

Posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news | Leave a comment

Movie Review: Terry Crews carries a Big Hammer as “John Henry”

henry1

Love that Terry Crews.

When it comes to big, burly character actors who can credibly play tough guys, and hilarious goofs on their tough guy image, he has just two peers — Danny Trejo and Dave Bautista. Pretty good company to be in.

And if there’s anybody you can picture in your mind when you hear the folk song “John Henry,” it’s Crews, a big man right at home with a sledgehammer in his hand, as a “steel-driving man” or a menace to a bad man.

But as John Henry, he’s parked in the middle of an archetypal “Man of Peace” forced to become a “Man of Violence” revenge thriller that — short as it is — loses track for LONG stretches of just what it’s about. It’s a cluttered, disjointed and not terribly satisfying variation on the “die with a hammer in my hand” legend that might have been a great showcase for a character actor given a leading role, for once.

Grainy home video flashbacks tell us who John Henry is and how he came to be this way. He grew up “straight outta” Compton, and his amusing blowhard of a widowed dad (horror veteran Ken Foree) loves telling him the story, “You know why I named you John Henry?”

It’s because he was strong, even at birth. A man-mountain of an adult, wearing a permanent scowl, he’s not the sort to take having his little dog run over, only to have the gangster (Gerald “Slink” Johnson) who killed the dog rage about the blood it got on his Escalade, and threaten John with a pistol.

But John Henry does take it. He picks up his pet and walks away from the confrontation.

The neighborhood’s notorious for a reason. When a big gang card game ends in a massacre, your first thought is “John Henry got around to his vengeance early,” but no. The gangsters were bragging about all the “ho’s” they’ve rounded up to make money for them. The shooters were there to end that.

One girl (Jamila Velazquez) gets away and hides under John Henry’s house. He’s not going to give this stranger up, even when the cops cruise through, sweeping the neighborhood for survivors or witnesses, “some kids” who escaped the carnage.

John lives in the house he grew up in, caring for his still-bragging-about-his-sexual-prowess Pop, “BJ.” Big John’s on oxygen and in a wheelchair. His massive, sensitive son may have the kind impulse of hiding “Berta” there. But it is BJ who knows enough Spanish to let them communicate.

There’s the set-up. John and BJ hide Berta, the cops are sort of looking for her, and the surviving members of the gang, led by Hell (Ludacris) are looking, too.

So are her brothers who, it turns out, were the ones who shot up that card game trying to free her. Emilio (Joseph Julian Soria) finds Berta, and soon they’re all holed up in that house waiting for Hell to unleash hell upon them.

That simple plot tells us where this is going, but writer-director Will Forbes is loathe to get to the point. The script loses its suspense, power and minimalism as we get all this Berta back story, more John Henry backstory explaining why he’s non-violent and his connection to Hell, John Henry bonding with Berta, John Henry bonding with Emilio and John Henry catching up with old classmate Tasha (Kimberly Hebert Gregory) and an even older neighbor.

The story is disjointed and abandons its minimalist focus on who and what is important. Stupid interludes with gang-bangers — who all dress in white — explaining “The Human Centipede” to each other while on watch, an off-key Tasha/John dance-reminisce moment where they remember “our jam” from back in the day, add nothing.

The picture stops dead for the better part of an hour during all of this, even as the viewer is muttering “Commence to HAMMERING, John.”

Ludacris, playing a character who calls himself “king” and sits on a throne in his gang hideout, has never looked more worthy of his chosen moniker than wearing this blinged-up metal jaw he sports here – ludicrous.

henry3

Once the picture finally gets around to what it’s supposed to be doing, it almost turns exciting and visceral, and it kind of makes sense. Nothing shows viscera and blood to better advantage than white on white clothing and decor — spattered and arterial sprayed. All a bit too little entirely too late, here.

Crews isn’t bad in the title role. But he overdoes the “triggered” by violence thing. The editing wipes out any subtlety to the performance.

And anyway, by the end we know it’s going to take more than a hammer to fix “John Henry. ”

1half-star

MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, sexual references and some drug use

Cast: Terry Crews, Ken Foree, Ludacris, Jamila Velazquez, Joseph Julian Soria, Gerald “Slink” Johnson and Kimberly Hebert Gregory

Credits: Directed by Will Forbes, script by Will Forbes and John Skinner. A Saban Films release.

Running time: 1:32

Posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news | Leave a comment

BOX OFFICE: “Bad Boys” near $60 as of Sunday, on track for $68 MLK Day, but but “Jumanji?”

“Jumanji” FINALLY finishes a weekend ahead of “Star Wars.”

It took a month, but holding audience and having legs at the box office finally bore fruit fruit for”The Next Level.” It will probably play longer into this winter than “The Rise of Skywalker,” even if it has no prayer of catching it.

“Just Mercy” edges “Little Women,” with both worthy films– only one a contender — still in the top ten.

“Bad Boys for Life” came in over $59.

“Dolittle” had a worst case three day (out of four this holiday weekend) prediction of $20, and just cleared that. Barely. See below.

Weekend Box Office: (1) Bad Boys for Life $59.2mil (2) Dolittle $22.5 (3) 1917 $22.1 (4) Jumanji: The Next Level $9.6 (5) Star Wars Ep IX: The Rise of Skywalker $8.4 (6) Just Mercy $6.0 (7) Little Women $5.9
https://t.co/XwvE9GsghA https://t.co/sjV466A3KA https://twitter.com/metacritic/status/1218947895166025728?s=20

Posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news | Leave a comment

Netflixable? The Internet sex trade comes a little too easily to this “Jezebel”

jezebel3

One hazard of the “speak your own truth” corner of indie film is the way the filmmaker’s story supplements or even supplants the one being told on the screen.

Haitian-American writer-director Numa Perrier (“Queen Sugar”) dipped back into her own past for “Jezebel,” a period piece about her days on the ground floor of the Internet sex streaming trade. She tells us a story of struggle and poverty in 1990s Las Vegas, which is just gritty enough to rope us in.

She made her story, which she talked about everywhere, the film’s credentials inviting it to be judged as “authentic” rather than dramatically sound, gritty and engrossing.

Her quasi-titillating tale of online porn, chat rooms and “private sessions” has all the edge rubbed off, making for a movie that pulls its punches, a borderline PG-13 version of a movie that should be hard-R or worse from the get-go.

Sabrina (Perrier herself) is matriarch of a family stuffed into a cheap residence hotel room. But she’s not the mother to little Juju, Tiffany or Dominic. Their mother is dying in the hospital, with only teenaged Tiffany (Tiffany Tenille) adamant about visiting her. The only money coming in is from Sabrina’s phone sex work.

They can’t pay the bills, can’t afford a car. That’s cramping the style of her unemployed boyfriend (Bobby Field), and cutting his boyfriend and brother Dominic’s (Stephen Barrington) cruising and drinking on the strip. Tiffany, who can pass for 19, needs to get a job. Sabrina finds the ad and sends her out the door.

“Just show off a little bit,” she cajoles. “Make a little money.”

It’s 1998, the last days of the dial-up Internet. And entrepreneurs are setting up chat rooms with bikini-clad models who talk dirty enough to those who log in to convince them to credit-card their way to the Promised Land — a private session, like a private dance at a strip club.

Shy, mama’s girl Tiffany has to grow up, and mighty fast, too. Her new sex co-worker Vicky (Zoe Tyson) can show her the ropes and teach her the rules.

“No nudity in the chat room…No personal information, no ‘penetration,'” she’s told.

Vicky’s business-owner brother Chuck is in charge, and his casting routine is worthy of Roger Ailes. Only Chuck has a reason to check out his employees nude.

“You’re gonna need to shave that.”

Vicky ensures that Tiffany, who takes the stage name “Jezebel,” waltzes right into this world as an innocent, primed to take it over by being “a natural.”

This is better than stripping, Vicky reassures her. “The guys can’t touch you. And you don’t even have to see how gross they are in person!”

The story makes Jezebel an instant favorite, even though we have no hint she’s sexually experienced. The pitfalls facing her are both topical (racism) and too typical. One “customer” becomes obsessed.

And how does her newfound sexual precocity impact the home life, where David may get a job but still has the whiff of a perv when he’s around Tiffany/Jezebel.

Eighty-six minutes isn’t enough time to develop much of this, but we can guess where the story would go next. Perrier — most of the female names in the credits sound like porn stage names — scores points with her recreation of “slow” and “delay” issues of the net in ’98. But we don’t see how the actresses interact with their clients (no screen they can read or camera they’re acting to is shown).

The work? A little back-stabbing, a little angling for better pay, some “on the side” cash — but otherwise, it’s all presented as borderline good, clean fun — giggling over “regulars” who finish their “private sessions” quickly, the ridiculous (no sound online) but not funny enough “acting” the “girl on girl” scenarios they have to play up to give the people what they want.

But when Tiffany burbles “That was so easy,” she’s getting at what is the rub here (ahem). This is so perfunctory and edge-free that it plays as incomplete, a movie “talked” into great reviews by hearing the filmmaker’s personal connection to the story.

Does “Jezebel” speak for itself? A little, but not nearly enough.

2stars1

MPAA Rating: unrated, sexual content

Cast: Tiffany Tenille, Numa Perrier, Zoe Tyson, Bobby Field and Dennis Jaffee

Credits: Written and directed by Numa Perrier. An Array/Netflix release.

Running time: 1:26

Posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news | Leave a comment

More proof “1917” is the official Oscar favorite — A Producers Guild win

Last night the Producers Guild best picture award went To “1917.”

The signs, starting from the Golden Globe “upset win,” are unmistakable.

Best picture favorite, quite probably best director, too.

I still think “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood,” and its director have a shot. But at this point, both have to be considered underdogs.

And “Little Women” feels like a “statement” vote and dark horse for Best Picture.

But the Netflix contenders are out, “Parasite” will have to settle for Best International Feature, and so on down the line.

https://t.co/u9rg8yetaf https://t.co/D4r5j0682Y https://twitter.com/hollywoodnews/status/1218784909248094208?s=20

Posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news | Leave a comment

Documentary Review: “Once Were Brothers” remembers the The Band

brothers1

There’s an implied “Gather round, children” to any appreciation these days for the music of the Woodstock Generation. When credible documentaries about the history of house music and electronica exist, when NWA earns a perfectly respectable and quite popular bio-pic, looking back over the nearly half-a-century since The Band played its “Last Waltz” can feel like archaeology, arcane Americana best confined to The History Channel.

But Lord, what a history.

“Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band” is a history of the group that sat at the crossroads of rockabilly and Dylan, Muddy Waters and “Roots Music,” aka “Americana.” It places them at the nexus of mid-century American history and warmly embraces the songs that they made that rendered them immortal.

And if it gives the surviving leader of the group that famously feuded, with members carrying grudges to their grave, the last word — that’s what you get by dying before Robbie Robertson, boys. “Once Were Brothers” takes its title from a recent Robertson song that reminisces about their brotherhood, and is based on the songwriter/guitarist’s recent memoir, “Testimony.”

Oh, and the only woman eyewitness to this history included in the film is Dominique Robertson, Robbie’s wife.

Daniel Roher’s film has heavyweight producers. Martin Scorsese, a fan long before he directed their curtain call concert documentary “The Last Waltz” is one (and appears on camera), and Ron Howard and Brian Glazer’s Imagine Entertainment ensured there’d be money to do it right and attention once it was finished.

So, definitive? Pretty much.

A fresh interview by Robertson and archival interviews by the rest of the group — drummer/singer Levon Helm, keyboardist Garth Hudson, singer and bassist Rick Danko and singing pianist Richard Manuel — take us through Band legend and Band lore.

They formed as a backup ensemble for late-blooming rockabilly Ronnie Hawkins (interviewed here), wrote songs and got tighter and tighter playing gigs throughout the early 1960s, impressed Bob Dylan enough that he hired “The Hawks” as his backup band.

And when they cracked out on their own, the guys everybody in Woodstock, New York knew only as “Oh, they’re with Dylan. They’re the band,” capitalized that label and ripped music out of the hands of the psychedelic ’60s with “a sound you’ve never heard before, but like they’ve always been here,” as Bruce Springsteen put it.

It still boggles the mind that a Canadian of Native American/Jewish ancestry — Robertson — composed the anthem “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” But he did. And that “drunkard’s dream” standard of country bad bands, “Cripple Creek” came from the same place, a songwriter and a band longing for a simpler era, the geography of the Mississippi Delta, earthier music that felt as if it came from another time.

“I got the impression there was a lot of mythology in there,” Van Morrison recalls.

Scorsese heard 19th century American literature in it — a touch of Herman Melville. Others? John Steinbeck set to music.

Robertson takes us to his seminal moment when, nostalgic for a past he didn’t share, he looked at the city of manufacture burned into the inside of his Martin guitar — “Nazareth, Pennsylvania.”

Music changed with “The Weight,” a song that begins with folksy Arkansan Levon Helm’s lament, “I pulled into Nazareth, I was feelin’ ’bout half-past dead.”

Bob Dylan remembers their appeal, and vintage footage of the documentary about his infamous “Dylan goes electric” tour, “Don’t Look Back,” captures the American and European 1966 tour where every show was amusingly greeted by a chorus of boos.

The photographer for their breakout album, “Music from Big Pink,” remembers how out-of-step with the “Generation Gap” times it was for a rock band to round up parents and relatives for a crowded and warm inside-the-cover group photo.

And we’re given the most credible version of the long break-up that was a long-time coming, the committed and generally “straight” Robertson mystified how his bandmates could binge drink with Clapton and each other, or drink and snort cocaine alone — some even dabbling in heroin.

“I was confused that the guys wanted to play with that fire,” Robertson recalls.

But as tragic as that was (and with all the drunk-driving/pre-seatbelts accidents, it could easily have been worse), that only set the table for making the perfect exit. They gathered up their favorite musicians, who ranged from Joni Mitchell and Neil Young to The Staple Singers, Muddy Waters and Neil Diamond, and took a final bow together with “The Last Waltz.”

All music documentaries are subjective in that they’re the most engrossing to those the most into the music. But for the right fan, Roher’s lovely leafing through musical history will be touching and at times thrilling.

The archival interviews capture even the band members no longer with us at their most lucid, at their fondest for what they’d had together and lost.

As Robertson’s title song, sung in the hoarse whisper of age, goes — “When the curtain goes down, we let go of the past…Once were brothers, brothers no more.”

4star4

MPAA Rating: R for some language and drug reference

Cast: Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson, Dominique Robertson, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, David Geffen, Taj Mahal, Ronnie Hawkins, Van Morrison and Martin Scorsese.

Credits: Directed by Daniel Roher. A Magnolia release.

Running time: 1:44

Posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news | Leave a comment