It's hard to watch a movie like Martin Scorsese's The Last Waltz with a critical eye. If I was to look at it purely on an entertainment level then it would flirt with an A because The Band and their music are so genuinely brilliant and amongst the best ever committed to cinema. Yet, then again, Scorsese's handling of the interview material interspersed throughout is rather weak and inconsequential, unlike Madonna: Truth or Dare, and I couldn't give it much higher than a C+. However, if I'm looking at the film from a technical standpoint then I'd probably go with a B because it's certainly more inventive than Neil Young: Heart of Gold but lacks the stripped back yet inventive energy of Stop Making Sense (both directed by Jonathan Demme for what it's worth). What am I to do?
Beginning with that wonderful title card that you see up top (am I crazy for feeling like I've seen it before at the start of another movie?), Martin Scorsese's documentation of the final ever concert by The Band is a joy to watch because, as I've said, the music is simply glorious. Featuring guest performances by Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond (free of irony), Emmylou Harris, Ringo Starr, The Staple Sisters, Muddy Waters and even Bob Dylan, The Last Waltz is veritable treasure trove for music fans. Scorsese doesn't do much with the footage, which is both a blessing and a curse, although I do wish we were able to see more than the 117 minutes (it's my understanding that the actual concert went much longer). In the end I'm going to slice the difference and give it a B+.
I'm unable to embed my favourite performance, but I would have to go with "Stage Fright", how about you?
*Yes, this is probably the only time you will see me willingly reference a Davis Guggenheim documentary. Savour it if you'd like.