Last night, Kat took me to Cinemateket to see one of her favourite movies: “The Last Waltz”, a film by Martin Scorsese that documents The Band‘s farewell show in San Francisco, back 1976. The movie features scenes shot on a studio soundstage, interviews by Scorsese with members of The Band and, of course, songs from the actual concert, which included guest appearances by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Muddy Waters, Ronny Wood, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Ring Starr and a bunch of other musicians I don’t know much about.
The screening started at 10pm, which is a bit late for me, but despite having to struggle a bit to not fall asleep, I really enjoyed it. Beyond the fact that it was a musical film, which in general tend to appeal to me, what I liked the most was how pleased the band looked on stage; there they were these guys, at the peak of their career, saying goodbye to all of it without a single visible trace of nostalgia or remorse. That’s my impression, anyway; I barely know The Band so I might as well gotten it all wrong.
In any case, the film is worth watching, for a few reasons:
1. The cover version of Marvin Gaye’s “Don’t Do It” is great and it’s the first song you will hear in the movie (it was actually the encore of the show but, for some reason, it’s the opening track in the film)
2. Neil Young looks very stoned, especially towards the end. I find that funny.
3. Muddy Waters. Do I need to say more?
4. The Band is entertaining, sometimes even funny. I particularly found Robbie Robertson to be a very likeable guy.
Now, there are also things I didn’t like that much about the film, like Neil Diamond and some of the most folky-softy-tacky songs the band played. I’m just not that kind of guy. However, what really annoyed me was that at the end of the show, when all the guest go onstage in a “we are the world, we are the children” kind of spirit, Ronnie Wood comes out, takes the right side of the stage and remains there throughout the whole song without the director showing him AT ALL. Not even once. There was the guy that had collaborated with Mick Jagger on “It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It)”, a guy that would end up joining The Rolling Stones the year after, and he can barely seen in the film. Nonsense.
If you can leave that aside and don’t hate Bob Dylan as much as Kat does, give the film a try. There’s a high chance you will enjoy it.