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Joni Mitchell - Woman of Heart and Mind: A Life Story
Joni Mitchell - Woman of Heart and Mind A Life Story
Actors: David Crosby, Joni Mitchell, Elliot Roberts
Directors: Susan Lacy, Stephanie Bennett
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Documentary
NR     2003     2hr 0min

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Movie Details

Actors: David Crosby, Joni Mitchell, Elliot Roberts
Directors: Susan Lacy, Stephanie Bennett
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Pop, Rock & Roll, Biography
Studio: Eagle Rock Ent
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 06/03/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/2003
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2003
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 2hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 11
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Wonderful Documentary
Charles Calvert | Bellevue, WA United States | 11/14/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a sensitive and beautifully made documentary that I recommend highly. Joni is one of my favorite musicians. I have been listening to her on a regular basis for over 30 years. As a result, my expectations for this kind of film were high, and overall I was pleased with what I saw.By far the most appealling part of this documentatary is the wonderful archival footage of a young Joni doing a number of her great early songs. This material simply shimmers with an almost other worldly glow. The retelling of the writing of her song Woodstock all but had me in tears, it was so moving and evocative. The commentary by people who knew her well, such as David Crosby, Graham Nash, David Geffin, and others, is thoughtful and very enlightening. Recent footage from an interview with Joni herself is also very engaging.Ultimately I would like to read a really long, really thorough biography that would explain all the complicated details that make up this extraordinary woman's life. There just wasn't enough room to dig into some of the most interesting transitions in her complicated life in this beautifully made, two hour long film. I still hunger for more information.Joni is such an intelligent woman, and many of the decisions in her later life would make interesting material for a more in depth exploration. Her relationship to jazz, the development of breakthrough albums such as Hejira and Mingus, her personal thoughts on other musicians, etc. All of this would be interesting to read about in more depth.But one needs to recoginize the limitations of the genre. You can only do so much in a documentary film. And certainly one understands why there was so much focus on her early career, given the almost transcendent power of the early archival footage. The early Joni was a being from another planet, or some parallel idealized universe, almost impossibly beautiful and talented. Given the nature of this early footage, it is easy to forget that she became more interesting as she grew older.Overally, this is excellent work, a must see for any one who really loves Joni's work and wants to know more about her. (If one gives every film that one really likes 5 stars, then how can you highlight those truly stellar films that all but change our lives. This is a great film, but I can only bring myself to give it 4 stars. It's very good, but it's not a Bergman or Fellini film.)"
An Entertaining Biography
Mike King | Taunton, MA United States | 06/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This DVD chronicles the life, loves and career of Joni Mitchell. She was very strong-willed, battling childhood polio and later teaching herself to play guitar. That combination of determination and talent helped her succeed in the male dominated world of folk music. To paraphrase her, she wanted to combine the melodicism of the big band era with the lyricism of Bob Dylan in the songs she wrote. She soon went from the coffee houses of Greenwich Village to Carnegie Hall. Ever the wandering spirit, she moved from New York to Laurel Canyon, LA, where she met and fell in love with Graham Nash. During that period, when they were living together, Graham wrote "Our House" and Joni wrote the album "Ladies Of The Canyon." That album included the official anthem to the sixties' most famous music festival, "Woodstock." Ironically, Joni was supposed to play at Woodstock, but her manager talked her out of it at the last minute.The DVD goes on to chronicle Joni's musical journeys into pop ("You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio") rock and roll ("Raised On Robbery") and jazz ("Mingus"), a superb album that was savaged by the critics and ignored by the record buying public. Joni continued to release many fine albums throughout the eighties and nineties. Joni finally won a Grammy in 1996, when "Turbulent Indigo" won for best pop album. Unlike other music veterans who won Grammies late in their careers, Joni's win did not translate into huge records sales and lots of radio airplay. Nevertheless, this multi-talented artist continues to make great music. The DVD includes snippets of songs performed in various concerts throughout her entire career. A bonus section features four songs, taken from her 1998 video "Painting With Words And Music," in their entirety. The songs are "Big Yellow Taxi," "Amelia," "Hejira" and "Woodstock.""
A woman with her own Mind
Kurt von Behrmann | Phoenix, Az | 07/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Few artists have been as hard to catagorize as Joni Mitchell. Emerging initially as a sensitive introspective folk singer from Canada to becoming a singer songwriter whose musical style crosses so many boarders as to becoming nearly unclassifiable, Mitchell has stubbornly followed her own creative path undeterred by trends or fashion. What sets her apart from so many of her contemporaries is her ability to expand, grow and remain viable in an industry not known for career longevity. When you consider the fate of so many of her contemporaries, drug addiction. creative sloth, death, rehab or becoming irrelevant oldies acts in far flung Casinos in the Southwest, Mitchell has overcome most, if not all, of those land mines. She, unlike so many who were there when she started, is still here and still making music.For those who have wondered when Mitchell would get her just due, it seems that all of those years of stubbornly refusing to be completely controlled by the "Music Biz" have paid off in terms of honors, awards and now a DVD that chronicles her life.Joni Mitchell A life Story: Woman of Heart and Mind from Eagle Vision gives her the royal treatment. Directed by Susan Lacy, the entire 120 minute documentary is much like Mitchell's work, personal, revealing, but decidedly artistic in it's aims. This is a point not lost on Lacy who allows Mitchell to tell her amazing story from her roots in a small town in Canada to being the consort, muse and inspiration for Crosby Stills Nash, and sometimes Young. Told in chronological order, we learn of Mitchell's childhood bout with Polio and marriage to fellow singer Chuck Mitchell, who informed her shortly after their marriage he was not willing to be the father of "another man's child." Subsequently Mitchell's out of wed lock daughter by another man was given up for adoption and relocated many years later. Such personal revelations are not treated as "nasty gossip," but like Mitchells' own music, which treats life's difficulties directly and with a minimum of sentiment or self pity, told in a matter of fact tone without being self pitying. The documentary spends little time detailing Mitchell's love life and her many entanglements, but it does not completely shy away from the fact that she was leading life on her own terms and in her own way irrespective of "conventions."The heart of Woman of Heart in Mind are the archival footage of Mitchell performing that give this film resonance. Liberally sprinkled throughout the bio are shots of Mitchell in concert and on television accompanied by herself on guitar. It is in concert giving such personal performances that one sees the real intimacy of her art form, and how well she is able to bring such personal songs to an audience without loss of potency or power. She truly emerges as mesmerizing on stage. That is a point not lost on David Crosby, who is largely credited for discovering her. Crosby briefly, but pointedly says," I had no idea there was anyone that good."The truth of Mitchell's rise is more complex, and far more detailed. As part of a duo with her first husband, Chuck Mitchell, they leave Canada for Detroit Michigan. Once there, they become the gold couple of the Folk singer circle, with Mitchell emerging early as the more original of the two. As performers coming to the Motor City came and went, Mitchell's compositions were gaining the attention of the likes of Tom Rush and Buffy Saint Marie. As her reputation grew, her strained marriage fell apart and Mitchell relocated to New York. It is a point in her life told in the first song from her self titled debut release, Joni Mitchell.Going on the road, literally alone, she booked her own shows and acted as her own agent. Such little known facts of her early career, and the enormous difficulties she faced, are carefully detailed, but without a note of self pity. After years of performing, Mitchell acquires an agent, supportive management and David Crosby's help in insuring that her music not be retrofitted to fit current styles when she hits the studios. From that point onward, Mitchell was in total and complete control of her musical odyssey.While she was closely associated with Crosby Stills Nash and Young, it is not long before Mitchell creatively moves towards a hybrid of Folk, Jazz, Rock and Roll and Country and Western that sends her up the charts with such anthems as "Woodstock." Contrary to the myth that Mitchell attended that ultimate 60's concert in New York State, she was slated to appear, but was told not to for fear of losing an important television appearance on David Cavot's talk show. Lacy includes Mitchell on the show listening and putting on a convincing stiff upper lip as the CSN and Y excitedly talk about the atmosphere of Woodstock as Mitchell stoically listens. To hear Mitchell comment on the footage adds yet another personal layer to a life that is already rich and enduring.The documentary contains vintage photos of Mitchell as a young girl and continues in chronological order as she started to work with such jazz titans as Charles Mingus, Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, Herby Hancock and Pat Metheny. While she maintained close ties to CSN and Y throughout her career, her musical identity was decidedly separate from theirs. So much so that when she hit the road to support the chart topping "Court and Spark," she toured with Tom Scott's L.A. Express. The resulting in concert release, Miles of Aisles, had a decidedly jazz feel.Offering up a great deal of personal information, and some informative revelations from Mitchell herself, Woman of Heart and Mind is a compelling, exciting voyage through a life filled with amazing highs, terrifying lows and exhilarating inventive music. For Mitchell fans, this maybe an essential collectible. For those new to Mitchell, and those who are creative, this bio picture serves as an excellent primer on how to maintain artistic integrity without compromising your creativity in an essentially crass overly commercialized industry. Kudos to Director Lacy for preserving the legacy of Joni Mitchell without turning it into a lurid "Inside the Music" gossip fest. Told with attention to detail and her artisty, the DVD also includes extras, promos and out takes that are just as solid as the 120 documentary."
A Fantastic Bio for Newcomers and Old Joni Fans Alike.
Reviews No More | 07/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Upfront, I would just like to thank my friend Rob C. for reminding me of my roots by bringing me back to my once flaming fixation for Joni Mitchell, the artist and her music. I had forgotten how much her music meant to me as a teenager and all through my 20s as I learned to connect to the world in a more sensitive way through her interpretations of life and love. Mitchell is perhaps one of the greatest musical rebels of song with her "weird chords" which have since been imitated by many who followed in her footsteps. For years she has been hated by those who don't have a grasp on the intricacies of what it means to see and feel things on such an intimate and deeply artistic level that it comes out as something other than some cliched embodiment of crass commercialism--something that's so predictable and safe that it can be embraced as easily as a collection of Air Supply songs. This is too disposable for those who get Joni and, while not all of us long-time fans love all of her work, we can certainly all agree that disposable is not a term you can use to describe the lady's output.

I picked up my first Joni Mitchell album in November of 1980 at the age of 16. It was her very commercially successful jazz/folk album Court and Spark which was centered around her then flame, John Guerin. I fell in love with the album immediately, and began one of a few musical romances that have lasted roughly a quarter of a century. The more I got into her music, however, and the more of her phases I was exposed to, I found myself asking lots of questions about her muses and what I was unsure of in her lyrics. Now, whether you are a long-time fan of Joni's or just starting out, I feel that this biography is imperative to own, as it answers a lot of questions I've been asking for a very long time. It's like the unfinished portrait finally has a face, and it is a joyously flawed one that's beautiful for that very reason.

If you find that Joni's music speaks to you on a nearly cosmic level, then you will be ecstatic with this biography. You are given, by her, the missing pieces to the puzzle that weren't available in old biographical accounts, and you feel the love and respect of friends and peers alike as they reflect on their comraderie with her. You will come to feel you know her intimately yourself if her music hasn't done that already. If it has, and you've been away for a while, this DVD bio will reawaken that passionate intimacy in you again. I was fascinated by this poet whose hard times haven't hurt her amazingly graceful disposition, and have come to appreciate her as a genuine musical treasure people are blessed to be touched by if they get her and her music. Intelligent and well put together, this is a great DVD full of wonderful music (naturally), insightful interviews, and tons of Joni never being artificial or uneasy--except for her displeasure at playing for so many at the Isle of Wight festival, which was understandable for such an intimate performer. My only gripe is that none of the songs from "Hissing of Summer Lawns" was included, but that's okay. It's such a small oversight for so much wonderful material. The Bonus features are also quite excellent. One final note: I am so glad that, after that jerk Chuck Mitchell manipulated her, she finally found her daughter and grandchildren! Joni is a one of a kind natural talent, and you will not regret owning this engrossing DVD; it's some of the best 2-plus hours you will ever spend in front of your TV."