Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Beach Boys - An American Band / Brian Wilson - I Just Wasn't Made for These Times|
Actors: Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine
Directors: Don Was, Malcolm Leo
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
Studio: Lions Gate Home Ent. Release Date: 06/22/2004 Run time: 69 minutes Rating: Nr
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Brutally Brilliant Portraits Of A Genius And The Band He Led
anthony nasti | Brooklyn, NY United States | 02/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Beach Boys - An American Band" and the subsequent "Brian Wilson - I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" are perfect documents of the real American rock band. The former focuses on the years '61 to '85 while the latter is a black & white document of The Beach Boys' troubled leader trying to get his life back together after years of personal problems.1985's "An American Band" opens appropiately enough with footage of Brian Wilson's 1976 birthday party intercut with scenes from an interview done with him from his bedroom, half - dressed, smoking a cigarette. The rest of the film's made up of interviews with the other Beach Boys that are good, though obviously scripted. The real highlight are the concert footage, featuring footage from their European tour that includes an electrifying performance of "Breakaway", not to mention glowing versions of "God Only Knows" and "In My Room", plus rockers like "Barbara Ann" and "Fun, Fun, Fun".1995's "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" has Brian coming to terms with his troubled life through various interviews with him and several people close to him, including his two wives, his daughters, Van Dyke Parks, and Carl Wilson, his brother who succumbed to lung cancer in 1998. In between are scenes of Brian doing newly recorded versions of "Meant For You", "Do It Again", "The Warmth Of The Sun" (a real surprise for me), "Til I Die", a rousing "This Whole World" as well as a few others. Overall, these are two finely done documentaries of one of the greatest artists of all time, a group who forever changed the face of music with their surfboards, woodies, girls, pet sounds and good vibrations. Surf's up."
anthony nasti | 05/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These two films provide a very good overview of the Beach Boys. "An American Band" is a fairly good comprehensive look at the band from their beginnings through 1985. There's a lot of historical performance footage of the group and interviews from throughout the years, with some on-camera narration from Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston from 1985."I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" picks up the story about 10 years later, and focuses on the genius (and genial) composer Brian Wilson, showing his at least partial success in dealing with his personal, emotional, and psychological problems, which had plagued him during the previous two decades as recounted in the "American Band" film. Brian comes off in "IJWMFTT" as much more articulate in conversation than I had expected (he's really pretty articulate by any standard), and his new performances of some older songs are well done and compelling. Interestingly, the footage is almost entirely new, including interviews with family (Carl Wilson, mother Audree, daughters Carnie and Wendy), associates (Van Dyke Parks), and admirers (Tom Petty, John Cale, Thurston Moore, Linda Rondstadt), with almost no archival footage. So, between the two films, you have a history of the band and a portrait of its driving force during its glory years. A great combination.One additional note: "IJWMFTT" is actually in letterbox in this version, not pan-and-scan. When I first bought this DVD, I was dismayed to see on the back of the box that it said the film had been modified to fit the TV screen, which usually means the letterboxing has been scrapped. I was pleasantly surprised to find when I actually watched the film that while the credits were in "full-screen" (i.e., not letterboxed), the rest of the film was definitely in letterbox. Very nice B&W photography."
Robert Morris | San Francisco | 03/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This set of two revealing perspectives on the Beach Boys has enough samples of their best music to be appealing to fans. It also uncovers glimpses of the inner turmoil that developed as Brian Wilson, their primary creative force, left touring and changed the focus of his talents from writing catchy tunes about surfing and girls to writing complex harmonic sequences with lyrics that told stories of lost innocence and finding one's soul.
The turning point came in 1966, when Wilson essentially replaced Mike Love with Van Dyke Parks as his primary lyricist collaborator after "Pet Sounds". After the resulting "Smile" project was abandoned due to internal strife, the Beach Boys minus Wilson re-invented themselves as primarily a nostalgia band, riding the crest of the wave that had formed under Brian's leadership, but whose new songs were weak imitations at best. Wilson himself never fully recovered from the demise of "Smile", although the recent successful reconstruction of this project has signified a partial recovery of his significant talents.
"An American Band" does its best to sugar-coat the conflicts, and has the look and feel of the "official story" of the band, like a 2 hour press conference in which the facts are sanitized. There are two pivotal moments in this video: one comes when squeaky-clean Bruce Johnston walks towards the camera looking like a televangelist, saying confidently with a straight face "We knew Brian was not going to be around [after "Smile"] but that we had to push on without him" (why?) The other highlight of the film is Brian's amazing solo performance of "Surf's Up" accompanying himself on the piano. "Surf's Up" expands the harmonic horizon beyond even "Good Vibrations", and is one of the most original, most beautiful, pop songs ever written. Brian's rendition is unintentionally heart-breaking; he is clearly exposing his fragile soul here on lyrics that are suggestive of innocence, a dark past, and a hope for redemption.
"Brian Wilson: I wasn't made for these times" is a biography of Brian Wilson, and is more detailed in its exploration of the Beach Boy turmoil. It is a little too long on talking heads, but also has good moments, including Brian's rendition of the story of "Good Vibrations" to eloquent tributes by Tom Petty and Linda Rondstat.
The other amazing revelation by watching these documentaries (especially if you watch them after you watch the Beatles Anthology) is the complete lack of character and wit displayed by the band members. Brian is the most interesting of the bunch, but his troubled past has rendered him humorless and incapable of displaying any evidence of wit. Carl looked like a nice guy, but again seems to take it all too seriously; Dennis played the part of a 1-dimensional sex toy, wound up and eventually wound down on substances; Al....can't think of anything to say about him... And Mike Love! He's just plain weird, will someone please tell him that he is not cool?
Buy this for the great music and for a fascinating glimpse into a famous dysfunctional band."
More than Fun, Fun, Fun
W. S. Capuano | Ballston Spa, NY USA | 10/11/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It was great seeing both these documentaries again. "An American Band" has some great concert footage, and includes Brian, eyes closed and totally into it, singing "Surf's Up" for the TV cameras just before the downfall in '67. Dennis' own downfall in the 80's is appropriatly handled; it's painful to see him at the end, barely able to talk. I saw the band in Dennis' last year, and the footage of him here brought back that painful memory. Concert versions of "Good Vibrations" (before it became a ridiculous sing-a-long) and "Heroes and Villains" are also a treat.
"IJWMFTT" shows a mostly lucid Brian, memory surprisingly intact, talking about his creations. But, the reason to watch this bio are the performances. Hearing Carl sing "God Only Knows" with his brohter and mother was a treat. And listening to Brian's ex-wife talk about "Caroline No" segue into Brian totally nailing the song was great stuff."