DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
YEAR OF THE HORSE (director/writer: Jim Jarmusch; cinematographer:Jim Jarmusch/L. A. Johnson; editor: Jay Rabinowitz; music: Neil Young and Crazy Horse; cast: Billy Talbott, Ralph Molina, Frank (Poncho) Sampedro, Larry Cragg, Neil Young, Neil Young Sr.; Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: L. A. Johnson; October Films; 1997)

 
"If you don't like the music, forget it. But, if you're like me, a Neil Young fan, this is great inside stuff."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Jim Jarmusch ("Dead Man"/"Down by Law"/"Permanent Vacation"), hipster NYC indie filmmaker, captures the raw energy and pulsating sound of Neil Young's Crazy Horse band as they hit the road for a 1996 European tour. There are backstage interviews with the four-man band, Neil Young (songwriter, guitarist & lead vocalist), Frank 'Poncho' Sempedro (guitarist), Billy Talbot (bass player), and Ralph Molina (drummer), conducted from the 1976, 1986 and 1996 tours. Shots of the boys include them stoned in London, playfully setting on fire a vase of flowers in a Glasgow hotel room, intensely rapping with great feeling about their music in Germany, getting testy at a rehearsal, uncomfortable discussions about their serious drug problems, trying to explain how the veteran band of over twenty years is family and how difficult it is on the road away from their families, and there's also a funny bit with Jarmusch giving Young, on a bus ride, a Bible lesson on why the Old Testament G-d is so pissed at mankind. And, of course, there's the boys on stage doing in full a few of their moving numbers.

If you don't like the music, forget it. But, if you're like me, a Neil Young fan, this is great inside stuff. Jarmusch fell in love with the band and filmed the aging rockers (Young is 52) in Super 8 (unfortunately resulting in poor quality grainy visuals), but he nevertheless caught the kooky spirit of the edgy, grungy artists and the spirited joy in their unique sound. They end the documentary singing "Like a Hurricane," blending together how it was performed in 1986 with the present 1996 tour. The rockers today are more paunchy and their hair grayer, but the music still has the same snap and vibrancy. For those so inclined, this is a great snapshot portrait of the band and has great concert footage of them performing nine songs--that include classics like "Stupid Girl" and "Tonight's the Night."

REVIEWED ON 6/29/2010       GRADE: A-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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