Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Love We Make

Just watched the Albert Maysles documentary on Sir Paul and the "The Concert For New York." Have you seen it? You should.

Still haven't watched the second part of Marty's Harrison film, but I will. I've been too caught up in all the solo Paul stuff I spent the last decade recklessly trashing. Plus, I had a great "solo Paul" chinwag with a friend, so the time was right. Once I get Mr. McCartney out of my system, I'll have a better head for George. (I just hope Errol Morris doesn't churn out some rare footage of Maureen Starkey over the next few days. I don't need another distraction.)

The film begins exactly a month and a day after the attacks on 9/11, and what we see is Paul McCartney being Paul McCartney in all his "cute one" glory. I don't think he can help it. And that is why I loved this film. That Beatle stuff sucks me right in.

We see rehearsals for, backstage footage from, and interviews prior to the absolutely huge event at NYC's Madison Square Garden, where so many gathered to pay tribute to the city and its heroes. It's an emotional film for most of it's 105 minutes, but it is always entertaining.

Beatles footage, solo or together continues to affect me. Paul pretty much shakes up everyone he comes in contact with, whether it's fans following him on the street, or celebs from Leonard DiCaprio to Access Hollywood's Pat O'Brien, everyone tries to play it cool, but in the end they just can't. Certainly not as cool as Paul is towards everyone from Dan Rather to Howard Stern.

Those that do play it cool are Paul's peers, and the scenes with Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton, though brief, were both slightly uncomfortable and kind of hilarious. Amidst all the sadness and shock of 9/11, business is still business, and Paul is intent on debuting the song "Freedom," which he had written specifically for this event. No one seems to care, as he talks it up, and basically auditions for these rock and roll legends, singing the chorus, playing air guitar, and trying desperately to get a reaction. Everyone is polite, but you can feel just about everyone thnking, "Just play old stuff!" When Paul tells Clapton, "Just play around in G. You don't even have to think about it," Eric deadpans, "No."

As documentaries go, I think it's quite fab. How you feel about Paul McCartney when it's over is worth discussing.


Shriner said...

The one real problem I had with that concert is that no matter how much heart Paul put into it -- and I truly believe he was doing it for all the right reasons: "Freedom" is a terrible, terrible song.

Sal Nunziato said...

@Shriner. Yes. It is.

The one real problem I have with my post, is how horribly written it is. (Should have gotten a better night's sleep.)

Robin said...

I loved it and loved seeing bits of the concert again, I forgot how good it was. What I think of Paul could never really change I don't think, so I can't add much there. He had me musically hook, line and sinker since the age of two.

I got the feeling he felt he had to talk up "Freedom" knowing it wasn't his best by a long shot. I thought Eric and Peter were amused, sort of like, "Paul is being Paul. Stop talking it up, we'll do it, jeez" and though they may play it cool, I still see the "he's a Beatle" thing in their eyes.

Would love to hear your thoughts on Harrison doc when you finish it. I found it very moving, especially the part with John's death, and Olivia speaking at the end. There was footage I don't think I've seen before (which is a feat) and loved hearing from Idle, Gilliam, but especially Eric and Jim Keltner.

Sal Nunziato said...

Gee thanks Robin! John dies?


Robin said...

Yes Sal and the Titanic sinks, so you can skip that one. ha.ha. I didn't spoil that time I will write "spoilers" at the beginning. :)

A walk in the woods said...

In Beatles terms, I am a "Paul guy." So I am looking forward to seeing this. It played here in Atlanta at theatres, but on a night I had something else going on.

Also can't wait to see the George doc.

The PopCulturist said...

Another of my favorite aspects of the film, too, was that it was shot by Albert Maysles, and how Paul interacts with or mentions him a couple of times and mentions their past (Maysles his brother shot one of the first documentaries about the Beatles ever in '64. (It's most of the "Beatles US Visit" DVD for thems that don't know). Interesting how his limo is still getting mobbed in NYC almost 50 years later.

I got to see the George documentary in one of its few theatrical screenings in Portland last Friday night. They said our print had so far only been screened for Roger Ebert and David Lynch. Of course, as cool as seeing it on the big screen was HEARING it with the big speakers. Reminded me of how good the Dylan music sounded in the theater in I'm Not There.

The film is great, but not as satisfying as Scorcese's Dylan doc. Mostly because, while there's a wealth of archival interviews, he doesn't have the subject in the here and now like he did with Bob. Also, that was on a specific 3-year period, and this covers a whole life -- with, IMO, his post-Beatle life getting short shrift. While the stories about the Beatles years are retold with some freshness, it's the later story we hardly know at all, and all those years are crammed into about 90 mins.

Some of that newfound footage is incredible though -- that You Can't Do That on some Euro TV show is, I think, the rawest, most raucous TV performance I've ever seen by the Fabs! I'm sure the more I watch this film the more I'll love it.

The other thing about it is I hope it might move the Beatles a few steps closer to one day making Let it Be available again. Since Marty used that clip of "I'll play if you want me to play", that's the worst of the dirty laundry out there, right? And it also means at least some of the footage has been digitally remastered. If they can make money off it, and they can, it's got to come out eventually.

Albert said...

Dunno really...should have loved Harrison,si?....I mean come on...George, Scorcese, Clay Dalrymple...everything was there...but I kinda really liked it instead....seemed like a zooted-up version of Anthology outtakes leaning towards Harrison....good, no doubt, not need to have Olivia insinuate philandering, either...uber-cheesy..oh well, life goes on...unless you're dead....of course...

Gene Oberto said...

The one thing about Paul that used to bother me, but now I have come to believe is genuine, is his enthusiasm. Of all the Beatles, he seems to be the one who truly believes in the power of the playing.

To mirror the Pop Culturist, in Let it Be, it's Paul who continually tries to keep it together, that it will all be OK if we just play. Of course, two of the remaining three had already moved on.

It seems that he can't help himself in his optimism, whether the next song he writes will be his next Yesterday, or that, sure, I can write a symphony or my next marriage will be true love. To Paul, tomorrow will be better than today.

McCartney is a showman, in the truest sense of the word. He, and he alone is the Beatles persona. He wears the mantle with dignity and he knows that while he still writes, records, and tours, the Fab Four will stay forever young.

FD13NYC said...

I'm a Beatle and solo Beatle fanatic if there ever was one. The Paul movie although for a good and worthwhile cause was a little self indulgent. He'll never spread himself too thin for the public because of who he is.

When among the fans on the street, he indulges them and then jumps back in the car and tells the driver to split, fast. A little hypocritical? All in all that was 10 years ago, and it was a decent show. It's always nice to see a Beatle on the screen, anytime.

As for the Harrison film, toooooo long. Yes it covers everything, and I mean everything. Too much on the India thing and the Hare Krishnas. But that was the life of George. I guess breaking it up into two parts was wise. I watched the whole thing. You'll only want to sit through it once, which is enough.

allen vella said...

Hope to see this movie, sounds good to me..thanks for all the great insight from all the posters..I always want to throw my 2cents in, but you guys really hit the mark. I feel redundant after reading y'all.... I love reading the comments as much as the shows the passion of the Sal and all you guys..makes my day.
as for the George doc, was really looking forward to it, but my view was colored by the Times review earlier that day (gotta stop doing that)...although I do agree with a lot of you..I liked it but I wanted it to blow my mind, I do love Harrisons post Beatle work and would have loved to learn more about those years..the Wilbury segment was great too..Love to see more of those outtakes..
oh and on Paul....he walked by me on w 54th st a few months ago, with his (new) wife..I waved and said hey, he gave me a little salute, and I tell ya..this 56 yr oldman was like a 12 year old heart did a little flutter! I immediately called my son and said" guess who I just saw?" Ha!!!(I agree with the comments about his enthusiasm, he always seems so can't be fake)

The PopCulturist said...

Re: Allen's comment on the Wilburys part of the Harrison doc: if you don't know, there is a whole short doc on the Wilburys, included on DVD on their box set. It is online at the official TW site but you can't blow it up larger than a postage stamp. Worth watching, preferably not there. Very entertaining.

David Handelman said...

Coming to this a year later...I could not get through the Harrison doc. I watched part 1 on HBO Tivod and erased part 2. It felt disorganized, repetitive, unrevelatory, and worse than Anthology. Thanks for flagging this one for me. I have the Maysles Beatles 1964 doc on DVD and have for 15 years and have never, ever watched it.