Jim Jarmusch's low-tech tribute to the 30-year-old collaboration between grunge godfather Neil Young and his favorite garage band, Crazy Horse, is both a quirky little movie and a monument to one of rock & roll's greates... more »t noisemakers. Partially culled from some gritty archival material shot in 1976 and 1986, and supplemented by lots of super-8 footage of Young and Crazy Horse between shows while on a concert tour (the concert footage itself appears to be shot on 16mm), Year of the Horse is very much like one of the band's paradoxical performances: epic but transitory, ragged but direct, focused but improvisational. Jarmusch understands Crazy Horse and its quixotic musical quest too well to embalm them in a conventional profile-and-performance "rockumentary." Instead, he honors the off-and-on marriage of Young and the others by treating the various chapters of their lives together as shadows in time, fleeting glimpses of a brotherhood that has no secrets. Jarmusch devotes some time to the ghosts in this film--Danny Whitten, Crazy Horse's original guitarist, and the band's late manager--then disperses them with eerie, soundless footage of black-and-white shapes that flutter off into their own void. It's the same poetic dance of light and shadow that caught Jarmusch's fancy in Stranger Than Paradise and Dead Man, but here--as with Neil Young and Crazy Horse at their musical best--it is pure in its essence, nonliteral, pouring in from some fount of raw discovery and inspiration. Exciting stuff, as are performances of band workhorses such as "Sedan Delivery" and the gorgeous "Like a Hurricane." --Tom Keogh« less
"Actually, I've seen this more than once. The first time, I had the priveldge of seeing it on a large screen in a movie theater with an excellent sound system. Of course the film is better on large screen format, but I still enjoyed it playing on a TV in a darkened room with the sound blaring from my stereo system turned up loud. Watching this film, I had the feeling that old time Crazy Horse fans could easily be off-put by a film which contains a high volume of photographic evidence clearly showing Neil Young, and the other members of Crazy Horse, as rock stars grown into the bodies of old men. The nostalgic footage, in the film, reveals more of a glory days version of Crazy Horse, and offers up an interesting dichotomy of the band's intrinsic character for what is now and what was then. Historically, I've always been somewhat neutral about the music of Crazy Horse, but still enjoyed the band as a film subject, and really liked the music in the film; not the band's best perfomances, but pretty cool performances just the same. This didn't play out like a kitcsh video album, or any such nonsense, but as more of a character study of a band that has been around longer and through more than any feature length movie could really encapsulate. But on that note, I felt JJ's direction gave one a good base for educated interpolation on the subject. Definately recommended."
This is a masterpiece
A. Alexander Jager | rome ny | 08/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One bandmate jestingly complains that some artsy filmmaker from NYC can't get to the essence of Crazy Horse (and what they've gone thru for 30 years) , but Jim Jarmusch gets as close to it as you can in 107 minutes. The band members open up, each individually interviewed in a basement with a washing machine in the background, in their hotel rooms, and on the tour bus. And the concert footage from different eras is often stunning. Some of the complaints below are essentially that the film is non-linear but these critics miss the point because this is an artists depiction of fellow artists and the artists he's depicting are masters of the psychedelic experience. It's NOT supposed to be linear. My favorite parts were Jarmusch's visual dipictions to go along with the music (far better than any MTV videos), they are simply stunning compositions, they are as true to the music as can be, they add to the music. This is a must for those into the artistic psychedelic experience. Roll one up, have a few bottles of wine, strap yourself in and enjoy the trip!"
Jim Jarmusch and Neil Young Collaborate Again
Ashley Allinson | Alliance Atlantis | 01/27/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The method of Jim Jarmusch has worked, to this point, to minimalize the actor's environment as means of accentuating the spoken word. Relationships are shared usually between the audience and an intimate few; 3 (Stranger Than Paradise), 2 (Night on Earth, Coffee and Cigarettes), 1 (Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai). Banter usually focuses on juxtaposing decisions made in the past with the decisions, although often not apparent, that are to be made within the quagmire of what is routine. Transient characters use expression and subsequent argument as the auteur's mouthpiece to confront this routine. Year of the Horse is Jarmusch's exception; rockumenting the band Crazy Horse and their lead man Neil Young on their 1996 world tour.
Jim Jarmusch, after teaming up with Neil Young for the soundtrack to his 1995 film Dead Man, has collaborated with Neil again, under the guise of Shakey Pictures, Neil Young's pseudonym and label, to document Crazy Horse's Broken Arrow tour. Old tour footage (1976 tour footage was directed and filmed by One West, the 1986 footage was taken from the film Muddy Track, a Shakey Picture, directed and filmed by Bernard Shakey) is included as means of juxtaposing the band's transition in sound, set design and apparel, a testament to their consistency. The band - Neil Young (guitar/vocals), Ralph Molina (drums/vocals), Frank "Poncho" Sampedro (guitar/keyboards/vocals), and Billy Talbot (bass/vocals) - question Jarmusch's ability to capture the essence of what truly is Crazy Horse as their tenure as grunge gods with an iconic leading man cannot be easily summarized. Or can it? "Some artsy-fartsy New York director gonna ask a bunch of stupid questions and pretend like you're explaining what's been a 30-year relationship." Or can it?
As Crazy Horse's tour meanders through the United States and Europe, Jarmusch's camera documents each step of the way, the highlights of which allow the audience to witness a tour bus fight regarding the harmonies on the song Cortez the Killer, a hit off of the 1976 album Zuma. In fact, many of the references, and subsequent song and footage selection revolve around Zuma. Their 1976 tour/footage was captured while promoting the album, and the songs Barstool Blues and Stupid Girl both appear on the Year of the Horse setlist, and are played admirably well some 20 years later. Jarmusch decided to use Super 8mm film stock to capture their 1996 concert footage, an obvious testament to the raw edginess to the band's music. Behind the scenes footage is by way of interview, working as an homage to lives lost and as a celebration of continued success.
In an interview with Emmanuel Tellier from "Les Inrockuptibles" magazine, Neil intimates that with Year of the Horse "you can really feel the personal view of a film maker, and above all the movie is about the band. It's more than a simple story; it's an impression, a succession of feelings. I had the idea of doing this movie - I like this kind of stuff and I like to have a camera with me, but Jim made it possible...With Crazy Horse, we always work hard. Sometimes, people don't understand how hard it is. Jarmusch's film really shows that."
The film's setlist, like its footage, is a blend of old favorites and new(er) tracks off of the bands 1996 Broken Arrow album. Neil says in the film that he "always hated calling the band Neil Young and Crazy Horse...we together are Crazy Horse." The iconic frontman has wavered very little from his aptitude for great songwriting, leadership that has kept this grunge band in check and sounding great for over twenty years.
1997 Directed by Jim Jarmusch 106 Minutes
1. @#$%^&* Up 2. Slip Away 3. Barstool Blues 4. Stupid Girl 5. Big Time 6. Tonight's the Night 7. Sedan Delivery 8. My Girl 9. Like a Hurricane 10. Music Arcade "
Made Loud to be Played Loud
James Benson | Coeur d'Alene, ID United States | 11/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Can't get to the show? No problem! Jarmusch gives you an all-access pass through the highs and lows of life on the road with Crazy Horse over the decades, and the ride hasn't slowed down a bit, though the players may have rusted a tad. This movie isn't as much a concert as it is a lesson in how four people (five if you include the late Danny Whitten) can constantly churn out better and better music every time they get together. There's no such thing as "status quo" with Crazy Horse. Yeah, the interviews show how life on the road gets tiresome, but once they hit the stage it all seems worthwhile. And, for any doubters out there, you won't see a better performance than the ones Neil the the boys put on for this disc. There's not a bad song to be found, and the sound quality puts you in the front row (you can choose Dolby 5.1 OR DTS). The video's there only for background - well edited, but don't expect to see every detail, every line in their faces on stage. At one point, the members of Horse talk about their jackets... the ones that say "Neil Young and Crazy Horse" on the back. Then Neil points out that HIS jacket just says, "Crazy Horse." He knows, and I hope that the others do also, that they all contribute to the sound that's uniquely theirs. If you want loud, great rock 'n roll with none of the garbage that sometimes gets in the way, like so much of today's music, I can't recommend this higher. (Even if you DO like today's stuff, get this anyway and see where it REALLY comes from.) Hey Hey, My My, Crazy Horse will never die!"
"The movie "Year of the Horse" nailed me to my chair. I don't know if this is an good expression in English. I am a very big fan of Neil Young and I know his dark sides in music very well. The film creates deep emotions, especially the performance of "Tonight's the Night". Neil goes his own ways and inspires me to do so either. Comments on Neils music on my e-mail adress are welcome."