Saturday 28 June 2008

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man (2005)

Rather than being a documentary on one of the greatest and most influential songwriters in the history of music, this is mostly a sort of premature book of memorial. There are snippets of interviews with Cohen, and they're interesting, but most of the film consists of other musicians throwing out twenty seconds of adoration and fragments of songs performed at a January 2005 tribute concert in Australia. It's worthwhile but it's ephemera, not really anything of substance. The only substance here comes from the mouth of Cohen himself.

The artists are diverse and inviting: Rufus Wainwright, Nick Cave, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, U2, Jarvis Cocker and others. The interpretations are interesting to varying degrees: Nick Cave swings I'm Your Man, Rufus Wainwright sings Everybody Knows like a lazy river. I enjoyed all, and I'm a devotee of cover versions that attempt to truly reinvent their originals, but only a couple of these rank in a collection of such things.

Martha Wainwright, brother of Rufus and daughter of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, impressed me most and I'll be seeking out some of her work. Most intriguing to my mind has to be a vocalist called Antony, partly because he performs If It Be Your Will, possibly Cohen's most beautiful song, without succumbing to the ease in which it can be massacred, and partly because he seems completely other. He doesn't sound like he looks and he doesn't move like he looks either.

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