Adrian Mack at the Georgia Straight writes about the Bernard Shakey Film Festival currently touring the country.
The latest showing was held July 31, Aug 1 – 4, 6 and 10, at the Cinematheque, a 194-seat theatre in the heart of Vancouver’s downtown.
Mack writes: “Musically speaking, we love it when the chaos of this singular singer-songwriter’s imagination coheres into something inexplicably moving—think of the bizarre imagery that gives ‘Powderfinger’ its unlikely force, or the silver spaceships of ‘After the Goldrush’—but we’re less forgiving when he applies the strategy to the seventh art.
“This movie was made up on the spot by punks, potheads, and former alcoholics,” is how Young described Human Highway, an improvised home movie self-financed over four years to the tune of three million bucks, and then released in 1983 to the same howls of derision that seemed to greet everything the musician did in the ‘80s.
Viewed now in its director’s cut, Human Highway is far more entertaining than its critics allowed, Mack said.
As for Young himself, Mack calls his uninhibited performance as uber-nerdy car mechanic Lionel a “true marvel.” What millionaire rock star has ever elected to make himself look this goofy? “Jerry Lewis movies, Japanese horror movies, The Wizard of Oz—it’s all in there,” was Young’s appraisal of this brazen and unapologetic mess; a vanity project perversely free of anything remotely vain.
According to the article:
Bernard Shakey’s first ever celluloid credit appeared nine years earlier with the infamous Journey Through the Past (1974). Young made the film as Harvest was turning him into the world’s shorthand for sensitiverustic hippie. Along with the album of the same name, it helped transform Shakey’s reputation as something quite different, raising its auteur’s gambit of not giving a shit to dizzying heights. Journey Through the Past obliterated everybody’s expectations, but if the subsequent panning of the album was understandable, the film deserved better.
If we see Shakey now as a man with a steadfast loyalty to his own muse, and a sincere indifference to your opinion, this movie clued us in 40 years ago. Its value as cinema, meanwhile, is best summed up by long-time collaborator Larry “LA” Johnson, who praised Young’s primitivism. “He will try stuff people more knowledgeable than him would never think of trying,” he said. “He’s the naïve explorer.”
The explorations of Muddy Track (1987) might provide this retrospective with its towering moment of dreadful inspiration. Young was in Europe with Crazy Horse when his entire world went into free fall, and his diary of that disastrous 1987 tour, captured with a video camera named Otto, is unmissable. “What I’m looking for is anything bad,” he tells a small crew at the beginning. “If people get uptight while you’re filming, don’t stop… Anything that happens that’s going wrong, I want it.”
Cue endless sheets of freezing European rain, riots, numerous cancelled shows, bad shows, worse shows, band fights, more band fights, painfully bad interviews, and the pitiful sight (and sound) of Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina trying to wrestle with synth-drums. Muddy Track is a terminal document from what should have been the end of Neil Young’s career. “It was a tour with a bunch of people that hated each other, hated what they were doing, and it showed,” said producer David Briggs.
Significantly, the gonzo humour is also still intact. In fact, Young is straight-up nuts in Solo Trans. “I got way into that guy,” he said, of the greaser Shocking Pinks persona he adopted at the time. “I was that guy for months. He was out there. It was a movie to me. Nobody saw it but me, but who gives a shit?”
“Nobody saw it but me, but who gives a shit?” What a great title for this must-see weekend of films.
Also Included: Rust Never Sleeps (1979), Neil Young Truck Show (2009, directed by Jonathan Demme), and Dead Man (1995, directed by Jim Jarmusch).
Last week, Neil Young released The Monsanto Years, an agribusiness-themed concept album and a unique collaboration with Willie Nelson’s sons, Lukas and Micah, alongside Lukas’s bandmates in Promise of the Real. Now Yahoo Music is proud to premiere the accompanying The Monsanto Years film, which documents the recording of the album’s nine tracks at converted movie theater Teatro in Oxnard, Calif.
Young’s Rebel Content Tour with Promise of the Real kicked off Sunday, July 5. Each tour stop will not only include a solo acoustic set by Young plus a full electric set backed by POTR, but also “The Village of Action,” featuring information booths for local, national, and global activist groups — thus tying in to The Monsanto Years’ theme of sustainable farming, as well as other environmental and human rights issues important to Young and POTR.
Neil Young at the premiere screening of the movie “The Monsanto Years” on Wednesday, April 22 and the IFC Center in New York.
“It’s a move about making a record.” N.Y. Not rated, 59 minutes.
A very special work-in-progress screening, this is a document of the recording of the upcoming album ‘The Monsanto Years’ with Neil Young & Promise of the Real. “No auto tune or vocal booths were used, and no ears were harmed in the making of this record.” – Shakey Pictures
“Neil Young and Promise of the Real, a band featuring Willie Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah, will hit the road this summer in support of their upcoming album together, The Monsanto Years. Young’s new LP will reportedly arrive on June 16th according to a press release sent to promoters, while the Rebel Content Tour itself will kick off July 5th at Milwaukee’s Summerfest…. In January, Young revealed that he was working on an album called The Monsanto Years, but the rocker appeared to be joking about the title at the time. ‘I’m working on another album now that I’m going to be doing with Willie Nelson’s sons,’ Young said. ‘It’s an upbeat review of the situation.’ At a surprise concert April 16th at San Luis Obispo, California’s SLO Brewing Co., Young and Promise of the Real debuted 11 new tracks that might appear on their joint LP. Those songs boasted protest-minded titles like “Monsanto Years,” “Rock Starbucks,” “Seeds” and “Too Big to Fail,” fan site Sugar Mountain reports. Young had previously teamed with the Nelson brothers at Farm Aid and the Bridge School Benefit.” – Rolling Stone
A Bernard Shakey Movie.
And his Q & A with the audience at the Bernard Shakey Film Retrospective
Neil Young made a special guest appearance at the week-long Bernard Shakey Film Retrospective, held at IFC, NYC, April 17-23. Following showing of the film Muddy Track (ahem, perhaps the TOP Neil film ever created), Neil was interviewed on-stage by filmmaker Jim Jarmusch and also fielded questions from the audience. Neil then returned a little while later and talked about his upcoming album, titled The Monsanto Years. A film that captured the recording of the album in the studio was then shown at IFC. It’s a rocking, soulful album but, as the title might indicate, relies heavily on environmental tones.
Thanks to Rustes Televisione YouTube channel
Long one of folk and rock’s most respected artists, Neil Young—under the pseudonym Bernard Shakey—has also been making films for over four decades, from concert movies JOURNEY THROUGH THE PAST (1974) and RUST NEVER SLEEPS (1979), to GREENDALE (2003) and other fiction features. This weeklong survey offers a rare opportunity to discover another side of Young’s creative genius, both behind and in front of the camera. The program includes weeklong NYC theatrical premiere engagements of MUDDY TRACK (1987), a one-of-a-kind chronicle of a European tour with Crazy Horse, and the newly restored director’s cut of HUMAN HIGHWAY (1982), a wildly anarchic satire of Cold War America starring Young, Dean Stockwell, Sally Kirkland, Russ Tamblyn and Devo. Also screening are Young’s two collaborations with Jim Jarmusch: DEAD MAN (1995), for which Young provided the stunning, feedback-heavy score, and YEAR OF THE HORSE (1997), a kaleidoscopic doc portrait of Young and Crazy Horse during their 1996 world tour.
Archives Guy on Facebook announced on April 10 The BERNARD SHAKEY RETROSPECTIVE.
April 17-23 at the IRF Center,
323 Sixth Avenue at West Third Street, NY, NY.
*Theatrical World Premieres of Muddy Track and Solo Trans.
*Human Highway (Director’s Cut).
*World Premiere of the newly restored Rust Never Sleeps.
Picture carefully restored from the film’s original negative, and audio restored from the original sources…with a new and improved 5.1 surround mix by Tim Mulligan (the concert and film’s original mixer).
Movie include Deadman, Greendale, Human Highway Director’s Cut, Journey Through the Past, Muddy Track, Neil Young Trunk Show, Rust Never Sleeps, Solo Trans & A Day at The Gallery. Year of the Horse.
According to the IFC Center: This weeklong survey offers a rare opportunity to discover another side of Young’s creative genius, both behind and in front of the camera. The program includes weeklong NYC theatrical premiere engagements of MUDDY TRACK (1987), a one-of-a-kind chronicle of a European tour with Crazy Horse, and the newly restored director’s cut of HUMAN HIGHWAY (1982), a wildly anarchic satire of Cold War America starring Young, Dean Stockwell, Sally Kirkland, Russ Tamblyn and Devo. Also screening are Young’s two collaborations with Jim Jarmusch: DEAD MAN (1995), for which Young provided the stunning, feedback-heavy score, and YEAR OF THE HORSE (1997), a kaleidoscopic doc portrait of Young and Crazy Horse during their 1996 world tour.
Wearing what has become his uniform of the day, Neil Young made a surprise appearance on Friday, March 19 at SXSW in Austin, Texas.
The singer-songwriter attended a special screening of his 1982 movie Human Highway at the Paramount Theatre and participated in a Q&A session after the film.
According to NME News, Young is quoted as saying about the film: “It has a life of it’s own. It refuses to die – we tried to kill it a couple of times,” said Young of the surreal movie, which was shown in a newly re-cut and re-mastered format. “It was never satisfying to look at, because I knew there was more than what we were seeing… I always wanted to make it what it could be.”
He wore a black hat, black leather jacket over a baggy black T-shirt, black pants, and what looks like a Native American medicine bag around his neck.
Of the band Devo, which appeared in the movie, Young said:
“They’re geniuses – they had something that was totally unique,” said Young yesterday. “When I met them I freaked out.”
Speaking about his work outside of music, he commented: “You’ve got to do other things, because just music is not enough.” He added that the new version of the movie, which includes previously unseen footage, will be touring film festivals throughout the year, before getting a DVD release. “I like people to look at it in the theatre – I like people to look at it with other people. I’m not a fan of the solitary art. I like to hear people react.”