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Year of the Horse - The Movie

Jump down to...
--> Hip Drag Queen's Review
--> A 10-year-old's Review
--> Jim Beller's Review
Also see...
--> Richie XFMR man Hand's Troc Trek
--> The San Francisco Chronicle's story on the premiere.
--> The San Francisco Examiner's story on the premiere and the Troc show.
--> The San Francisco Bay Guardian story on the premiere.
--> The MSN Cinemania wrap-up on the San Fran Film Fest
--> An nice, objective Reuters review.
YOTHFest RustFests
--> At the Toronto Film Festival.
--> With the CDOP (Albany, New York).

Year of the Horse, Incoherent First Thoughts On

by Jeffry Hip Drag Queen Robert Connelly

This is going to ramble, but it's the best I can do.

Wow. Wow, wow, wow. What a killer fuckin' movie.

I'm not just saying that because I'm a Rustie, and of course, my fondness for LOW and HH makes my opinion that much less reliable, but...

I'm glad I hadn't read much at all about the film on Rust or otherwise. Then I probably might have known how much of it was shot on super-8, or the Muddy Track footage, or, hell, even the 1976 stuff...

It'll be criminal if that particular version of Fuckin' Up isn't on the CD (Jarmusch said that the album tracks will not necessarily be the ones from the movie). And I finally understand all the fuss about The Gorge LAH.

Flowers burn. And burn.

Neil's voice seemed higher than usual during Fuckin' Up, which opened the film. He sounded more like someone's bad imitation of himself. (I'm reminded, for some reason, of the USA for Africa video in which Stevie Wonder instructs Dylan on how to sound like Dylan.)

I suspect there's going to be a fair amount of debate about the way the film was shot. I happen to love the way super-8 and 16mm look, and Neil had specifically asked for the look those formats can provide. Let's look at it this way: the clearest footage in YOTH is like the grainiest footage in RNS. In any event, it's going to annoy a hell of a lot of people. (Good!) If this film had been shot on straight 35mm like any other concert/documentary, it wouldn't have sucked, necessarily, but it wouldn't have had nearly as much character. I'd almost go so far as to say this is the movie The Song Remains the Same wanted to be--but that would piss off Zep fans and I could never finish that damn movie and as a result have no right to criticize it, so I won't go that far. But anyway...

Billy smokes a lot of grass. Ralph sounds like an extra in a Scorsese film. Poncho is nuts.

What else, what else...Scott Young is among the interviewees, the majority of which take place in a grimy washroom in some Dublin backstage. This room is probably the most consistant image in the film, and is in fact on the poster...

...the poster which, near as I can tell, they had up for no more than four or five hours. I did take some pictures of the marquee, though; how often you see a marquee for the world premiere of a Neil Young film? I'll get them developed asap and maybe one can go on HyperRust or something.

Jesus Christ! (Well, that's what he calls himself.)

It's officially a Shakey Picture, with Bernard co-producing with Jim. Elliot, Jay and L.A. are all in their standard positions.

Best moments from the credits:
The theater, unfortunately, could not comply. I don't think their system could have handled it.

I don't know exactly how it timed out with the Trocadero gig, but from where we were sitting (front row of the seldom-used balcony), I recognized Billy arriving just a few minutes before it began. Apparently all four were there, but I couldn't tell. They left as soon as the movie was over.

According to Jarmusch, it'll be released theatrically this fall. It's gonna be a long wait.

Neil is not a Bible scholar by a long shot, and Jarmusch likes the Old Testament largely for the gory stuff. I'm guessing Neil hasn't accepted Jesus as his personal savior.

The big finish was a montage of three LAH's: 1976 and two from '96, The Gorge and one other I'm not certain of. It started with '96, then seamlessly switched to '76, then not so seamlessly back to '96. As he described it, Jarmusch wanted to show how much they've changed over the years, how crisp and clean it was in '76 compared to the chaos of this tour. It shows.

Muddy Track, according to Jarmusch, will be released on video, and he also wants to edit the '76 footage into feature form.

The credits were over Neil playing Music Arcade.

All in all, it was very much worth missing him at the Trocadero.

Hip Drag Queen says check it out.

The YOTH Experience

by Daryl A 10-year-old O'Grady

Ok, so we're late. I'm standing in the lobby waiting for my wife in the bathroom, something is happening on the stage and I'm anxious to get to a seat. We'd driven around "the Castro" for 20 minutes looking for parking, no parking within miles of this place. If you don't know what the Castro is, ask your neighbor.

So I'm standing there, anxious, and this entourage comes by. I didn't even really notice it, I thought it was just some people coming down from the balcony, but I look over and think that guy looks a lot like Pancho, then the next guy goes by and I think, that guy looks a lot like Billy and then the next guy goes by and I think that's Ralph. So I don't know if Neil walked right past me and I was too preoccupied to notice, but Crazy Horse did, and I sort of noticed. Good thing my wife takes awhile.

The film is produced by Bernard Shakey and Elliot Roberts. It has a lot of clips of the band backstage, mostly old stuff, 1976, 1986, etc. In present time, each guy sits in a chair and expostulates about Crazy Horse. Mostly just how great it is to play with each other. Between these, there is footage of last year's tour. This may not be a definitive list, but the set is:

    Fucking UP
    Big Time
    Stupid Girl
    Barstool Blues
    Slip Away
    Music Arcade (over final credits)
May not be the right order, that's from memory.

There are some witty clips from years ago. A couple of Billy and Neil bitching about how to do a song. There's one of Neil setting afire the flowers on a dinner table.

In the present footage, Scott Young talks about the band a bit, and all of them talk about Danny Whitten and David Briggs. Interesting bit is when Pancho talks about joining the band after Whitten's demise and he says that at the time he was doing a lot of herion and other drugs. He said that getting a steady gig, making money and having something to do helped him clean up, so he says "Crazy Horse killed one guy and saved another".

I liked it. It's a document of last year's tour with quite a bit of footage of the guys over the years.

I must say, as I watched this film, I was thinking about what Neil is about. I don't know if everyone has 1 artist that connects with them more than any other, but Neil is it for me. I mean, I love Dylan, Mendelsohn (my favorite classical composer), Woody Allen, Fellini, William Styron, John Irving, and on. Many great, great artists. But really, I don't think that any other artist casts such a huge spell over me as does Neil. I was listening to Barstool Blues...

   I have seen you in the movies,
   and those magazines at night.
   I saw you on the barstool when
   you held that glass so tight
   and I saw you in my nightmares
   but I'll see you in my dreams
   and I might live a thousand years
   before I know what that means
And God, I remember those words from 1975, an impressionable youth, and just making such a huge impact on my life. No artist that I've been familiar with has created so much art that hit me so hard.

I don't know if that makes any sense, and sorry to go on and on, but that's what I was thinking about as I watched this film. I sure hope that it's going to be available on video, so that I can crank it up and watch it at home.

    A 10-year-old

YOTH, and Neil Buys Us Troc Tickets

by Jim Beller

The Rockin' Bellers here, getting in a report on Year of the Horse. We went to see the new Jim Jarmusch concert/doc movie at the Castro Theater. Got there early - around 5:00. Met Hip Drag Queen -- could tell he was a Rustie by his handsome button.

Then we hear a guy trying to sell his tix to the movie and to the party at the Townsend club, because he just got vouchers for where Neil was really gonna be -- the Trocedero. Me and Hip hop into my car and careen down to the Troc, but then realize that the logistics prohibit both the movie and the show -- you have to redeem the vouchers during the movie (some wierd Neil mind game?) Also, only two vouchers (requiring ID to redeem). So I would have to abandon either wife Elsbeth, or friend Sharon (who bused all the way down from Forestville). So we go back to the movie....

I'm brooding a little, waiting for the movie to start, when in walks Neil and Pegi. They sit down a few rows ahead of us (we had strategically placed ourselves right behind the reserved rows). Jarmusch introduces the wonderful movie. Doesn't have Neil or the Horse take a bow. Neil and Pegi leave really soon after the movie starts.

YOTH ("Proudly shot in Hi8, Super8, and 16mm" -- "MADE LOUD TO BE PLAYED LOUD") was gorgeous and witty, interspersing some 70's Neil footage, interviews with the band and their extended family, and other touring band junk, with great terrific classic Neil performances.

I'll have to leave a complete set list to someone else (including where each was shot) but he started with Fuckin' Up and included Barstool Blues, Slip Away(?), Big Time (which was done to a collage that included some David Briggs footage), TTN (which was framed by interviews about Danny Whitten), Sedan Delivery, Music Arcade, and ended with a really cute intercut 70's and 90's Like a Hurricane's. (Actually, Music Arcade was played over the credits).

But back to LAH... First were some cuts from last year's show in some terrific amphitheater in France, then all of a sudden Neil is 25 again! Most of the song is a version from the post-TTN era, then another cut (of course this one is more visible) back to 96.

So Jarmusch gets up to answer questions. He mentions that Neil left to go play, but doesn't say where. We (me, Els and Shar) get up and leave -- sorry Jim, great flic!

We figure we will hang around outside the Trocedero and listen for a little while on our way home. We get there and hear a little RITFW through the wall. We notice people are walking in the front door. Check it out - hundreds of people had already been turned away earlier, but some tickets are available! We walk right in, up to the ticket window,and the guy hands us tix, and says that Neil wanted us to have a nice evening and was paying for our tickets!! I wish I knew why all this happened, but why ask why?

    Jim Beller

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