Leonard Cohen - Under Review 1935 -1977 is a 90-minute documentary film which reviews the poetry, music, performances, and career of one of contemporary Canada's greatest artists. Features include musical performances of ... more »Leonard Cohen reviewed by our tea« less
"As the title indicates, this DVD covers Leonard Cohen's life from his birth in 1934 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada to 1977 when he recorded the album with Phil Spector, "Death of a Ladies' Man." It is also labeled "an independent critical analysis" and we are further told that the film was neither authorized by Cohen, his record label or management. Cohen's biographer Ira Nadel's critique is included, along with that of John Simon who produced Cohen's first album, other producers, "Rolling Stone" magazine writers, and an assortment of other talking heads. For the most part, Cohen has nothing to worry about as practically everyone praises this man, his novels, his poems and his music. Nadel's commentary was most helpful. He describes Cohen as an artist who engages rather than entertains the listener. Ronee Blakley's comments-- she sang backup on "Death of a Ladies's Man"--were beautifully spoken and rang with sincerity. The different speakers discuss Cohen's early books of poetry, his two novels but concentrate for the most part on his singing career and the albums he released through 1977. There is a difference of opinion by this folks as to which one is his best one. Although more critics vote for his first released in 1967, "Songs of Leonard Cohen," "Songs of Love and Hate" gets high marks as well.
There is not a lot of new information on this DVD for those of us who are besotted with the man Leonard Cohen. I must be the only fan alive who didn't know who the woman in the Chelsea Hotel was; so now I know, not that it matters. By far the best part of this production is the actual footage of Cohen when he is interviewed ("everyone lives the life of the heart") and/or the snatches of his or Judy Collins' singing. We can all be thankful that she introduced Cohen's work to the U. S. when she recorded what was to become his most popular song "Suzanne" on her fantastic album "In My Life."
This DVD would have been much better if we had seen more of Cohen and less of the reviewers. (The film is almost 90 minutes long.) I'm reminded once again that Archibald MacLeish said that a poem (all the reviewers are in agreement what Cohen did not write songs but rather poems set to music) should not mean but be. Sometimes less is more; the less said of Cohen's fine poetry, the better. Watching this sometimes tedious film, did, however, make me want to listen to more of this great artist's music, certainly a good thing."
Good based on Scarcity of Information
J. Michael Nace | NY State | 09/08/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have followed Leonard's music since 1967, deeply influenced by most of it, as well as his poetry and mentality. As most Cohen fans know there is a famine of information on DVD about him, as well as biographies (I see a new one is set to be released in October 2007). This DVD is essentially interviews and clips of concerts (short clips at that) analyzing Leonard's lyrical abilities and musical talent. All of the contributors are excellent and knowledgeable, not boring and have true insight and sensitivity into the artist that Cohen is. There are clips of Westmount, Quebec where Cohen grew up with Cohen walking around his neighborhood (?) but what I most missed in this DVD were any photos of Montreal cafes where Cohen frequented as well as longer music clips. Finally, for a DVD released in 2007 it was frustrating to have his career analyzed only up until 1977, when for 30 years since then he has in my opinion produced some of his most genius compositions. I can only hope there is a 1977-2007 life of Cohen in the DVD works at this time to complete the set."
Joy Olree | po dunk, tennessee, usa | 06/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are a Cohen fan you should have this. If you are not a Cohen fan you should be. I know there are lots of things out there about Cohen and it is tempting to buy them all but most of us can't do that and lots of them are not worth the money but this one is."
For the Fan.
Sid Kaskey | south miami, fl United States | 06/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you, as I, are moved by Cohen's careful use of language then having this piece of his life is necessary. It is one more gift that has become available to feed a passion. Cohen's history probably means little to most, but it means a lot for the fan."
Wonderful DVD, but a bad copy
Randy J. Edwards | 07/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I ordered the DVD for my wife, as she is the big Leonard Cohen fan, but I enjoyed it myself. Leonard Cohen is a fascinating individual. He should not be compared to Bob Dylan which is what a lot people want to do. Dylan is Dylan, and Cohen is Cohen. I suppose we all do that though, referencing the new by some old we are familiar with.
The DVD copy I had received was not a good copy. The first 5 minutes does not play properly. My wife has wondered about returning it, but I am reluctant to have to pay any shipping charges to do that, and wonder whether it would be productive. Would a replacement DVD have the same problem?"