Year of the Horse

Super-8 and 16-millimeter multiple-camera perspectives of Neil Young and Crazy Horse onstage in 1996 are the emotional center of this concert film and bio. Cinematographers L.A. Johnson and Jim Jarmusch (who also directed) seem particularly attuned to the enthralling repetition in the band's music and stage behavior, and editor Jay Rabinowitz maximizes this seductive quality with decisive, flowing cuts during the plentiful performance segments. The rest of the movie is allotted to interviews with band members and support staff, moving homages to dead people who were involved with the band, gorgeously doctored footage of crowds, and snippets—some from 1976 and 1986—of band members arguing, rehearsing, and relaxing. Many shots contain the typical reflexive acknowledgment of the filmmaking process—the filmmakers interacting with their subjects, the subjects playing to the camera or talking about being documented—but it never becomes cloying, perhaps because the movie also contains footage so intimate it's hard to believe a camera was present. This portrait debunks the idea that Young's the dominant figure in the band by giving lots of screen time to Ralph Molina, Frank “Poncho” Sampedro, and Billy Talbot—and not just so they can talk about Young. Still, his powerful yet understated persona asserts itself in alluring flashes.

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