Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|I Am Trying to Break Your Heart - A Film About Wilco|
Actors: Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Leroy Bach, Glenn Kotche, Jay Bennett
Director: Sam Jones
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Documentary
This splendid documentary captures the band Wilco's struggles (both with their record company and within the band itself) while recording their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart is completely ... more »
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Best music documentary I've seen in a long time
C. Carrigan | Chicago, IL, USA | 09/04/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was aware of Wilco when I went to see this movie, but not a huge fan. I couldn't have told you the name of their albums or any of the members of the band - just that I had heard a song or two and like it.
That is the beauty of this film, it is just good whether you are a Wilco fan or not (but you probably will be by the end of the movie). What was supposed to be a "making of" for the band's latest album - yankee foxtrot hotel - turned into an insightful examination of the music industry today. Wilco had enjoyed moderate success and was allowed much more freedom than most in the recording of Yankee Foxtrot. When the record company heard the album, they wanted some changes made. Eventually, they dropped Wilco and gave them back their album.
What you see in this movie is the commercialism of the music industry- which is a necessary part of the industry- fighting with the artistic integrity of making music that means something to you and not compromising (sp?) that. The music industry has to balance artistic integrity and market savvy, however the industry is currently over focused on the commercial and financial side of things.
The movie shows a band that keeps its vision in sight and stays true to their music, and, ultimately, winds up victorious.
I would highly recommend this movie to any music fan."
Thomas Magnum | NJ, USA | 05/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I Am Trying To Break Your Heart is a brilliant documentary by director Sam Jones in which he follows the critically acclaimed band Wilco in the process of recording their fourth album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The film opens on an optimistic note as the band is in the their own recording studio cutting the record. Mr. Jones couldn't have written a more dramatic turn of events when the band presents the album to their label, Reprise, they hate the album and demand changes. When the band refuses to make changes, Reprise, essentially drops them and releases them from their contract. This event became big news in the business and Wilco had the great luck to have a bad situation turn golden when companies got into bidding war for their services. They eventually signed with Nonesuch and the album was released to massive critical praise. The irony of the situation is that both labels were owned by Time-Warner who paid for the album twice. Also, there are some tensions in the band between leader Jeff Tweedy and guitarist and keyboardist Jay Bennett. You don't see any overt animosity between the two other than a scene in which there is a disagreement regarding the mixing of a song ("Heavy Metal Drummer") that is filled with tension, but the resulting parting of the ways adds even more dramatic flavor to the film. Mr. Tweedy is the main force behind Wilco and he dominates the film as well. He provides the most commentary by far and his image is the most widely shown. This film isn't a Behind The Music style expose, the band seem like a normal bunch of guys. No wild partying, just five (and then four) musicians trying to craft an ambitious album. The film has a nice number of live concert performances that are nicely interspersed throughout the film. Mr. Jones shot the film in a grainy black & white that is a nice touch, but it would have been a good idea if he introduced a little color into the film especially in the concert footage. That is just a minor quibble as I Am Trying To Break Your Heart is a first rate documentary that is a must for any Wilco fan. The bonus disk has numerous outtakes as well as an uncut version of the solo performance in San Francisco by Mr. Tweedy that is featured in the film."
Not Just For Wilco Fans
Marcellus Wallace | Chicago, Illinois United States | 04/20/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've been a big Wilco fan for quite sometime, and I love their last record, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot". So I may not be as objective as I should be in reviewing, "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart - A Film About Wilco" which captured the making and distribution of the record. However, if you're at all interested in seeing how the music industry functions, this film does a wonderful job capturing the chaos and sleaze of the music business. My favorite scenes in this documentary involve the Spinal Tap-ish encounters Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy has with the press, with industry types and most notably with his band compatriot Jay Bennett, whom is summarily dismissed 60 minutes into the film. They are very difficult, uncomfortable scenes to watch at times, and certainly give aspiring musicians second thoughts about the profession they are choosing. I was a little disappointed that the remaining band members commentary track with director Sam Jones, avoided commenting about Bennett's contributions to Wilco (at one point of the commentary, during one of the more bizzare non-confrontations Tweedy has with Bennett, the whole band walks out leaving Jones to explain the dynamic of their relationships). Still, if you're any kind of music fan, watching the creative process is mesmirizing. If you're a Wilco fan, this is a must have. The DVD features lots of bonus footage and music by the band, and hearing the original or alternate versions of "Kamera", "Poor Places" and "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" are really ear opening. I'll never listen to "Heavy Metal Drummer" again without thinking of the Tweedy/Bennett spat. All in all, this is a really entertaining documentary that proves the old addage; life is stranger than fiction."
A beautifully photographed documentary about a seminal rock
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 08/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For some reason that I can't understand, for over three years I've known about this documentary, knew it was highly regarded, and loved the ablum YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT, and yet did not see this until recently. Now that I've seen it, I'm more perplexed than ever as to why I didn't. For one thing, it is a Chicago film, where I live, and might be a neighborhood film (I think their loft is a few blocks from where I live).
There are three things that make this a marvelous film. First, it is great to look at. Photographer Sam Jones made his film debut making this, and it is obvious throughout that it was made by someone with a great eye. He frames his subjects with care, and he also shows great sensitivity in filming the city. Forget all those feature films shot in Chicago: this is what Chicago really looks like, from the early shots along Lake Shore Drive to the ending shot with the guys walking along the lake beside Adler Planetarium (though the latter is not shown), this is the real Chicago. The second reason the documentary shines is the sound. The band sounds great every time you hear them, whether just jerking around or rehearsing or performing on stage or recording in their loft. You can hear why they are a great band from beginning to end. Some documentaries manage to botch the live sound, but in performances here the band is sharp and compelling. The third reason it is a great film is the story, which certainly couldn't have been anticipated at the outset. Jeff Tweedy had been critics' darling from his days as co-leader of Uncle Tupelo (the other co-leader, Jay Farrer, formed Son Volt while Tweedy formed Wilco), and there was a sense that their upcoming album was going to break new ground. The result was an album that was sparer and more minimalistic than previous efforts. Heavily rhythmic, yet allowing silences and spaces where other performers would succumb to the temptation to fill everything with sounds, the songs on the album often seem to contain the minimum amount of embellishment to achieve the desired effect. Although the album would go on to tremendous critical acclaim (it would named the #1 album of 2002 in the prestigious Village Voice Pazz and Jop Poll, which is more impressive than any Grammy award since it is a poll conducted with literally hundreds of top music critics), the record label was underwhelmed, and fired Wilco after the band refused to rerecord parts to make it more commercial. The irony is that after the underground buzz built about the album, they managed to resell the album for a different Time-Warner subsidiary for three times the amount Warners-Reprise originally spent in having it made.
Apart from the immense entertainment value of the film the documentary raises anew an issue that continually arises these days when downloading and file sharing are restructing the entire industry: What is the point of record companies? They obviously are not crucial in maintaining the artistic integrity of the music nor are they key in developing talent. Nor do they make the individual bands much money. I heard another Chicago musician, Billy Corgan, on local NPR state that even his Smashing Pumpkins made very little money off album sales. It is the rare band that doesn't make the vast bulk of its income from live performances. Essentially, record companies continue to provide only two services: PR and record distribution. My own belief is that record companies are entities that have largely become irrelevant. Their demise would necessitate some new arrangement of how music is distributed and promoted--i.e., if a great new band records killer music, how will I hear about it--but I think there is a very good chance that in a couple of decades that record companies as we have known them will have largely ceased to exist. And good riddance.
I'm sure most people who are serious fans of contemporary music have already seen this. But if there are a few unfortunates such as I was myself until recently, this truly is on the short list of must-see rock documentaries. If you haven't seen it, see it now."