Isle of Wight 1970 release (October 2009) - all the details

News about Leonard Cohen and his work, press, radio & TV programs etc.
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sirius
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Re: Isle of Wight release (Oct 20) - all details

Postby sirius » Sat Jan 23, 2010 5:43 am

Film Review: Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970

Though the year has just started, Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 may well turn out to be one of the best films of 2010.
Jan 22, 2010


-By Eric Monder

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http://www.filmjournal.com/filmjournal/ ... 004a2969d2

It doesn’t say much for the current state of cinema that one of the year’s highlights was filmed 40 years ago off England’s southern coastline, but in many ways Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 feels both immediate and timeless. For those who only know Cohen as his deeper-voiced older self, Murray Lerner’s look back will be revelatory.

Apart from Cohen fans, baby boomers and anyone turned on by the recent Woodstock anniversary celebrations should make Leonard Cohen at least a minor success. While some might wait for the DVD (and accompanying CD), wiser viewers will want to catch the film in a theatre, to more fully appreciate the original concert experience.

Director Lerner has been doling out parts of the Isle of Wight concert over a period of years in a series including Message to Love (1995), Wild Blue Angel (2002), which focuses on Jimi Hendrix, and The Who Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 (2004).

Leonard Cohen is less comprehensive than Message to Love and less spirited than Wild Blue Angel, but it turns out to be the most memorable of the Lerner films. As the story is told via newly shot interviews with fellow Wight performers Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Kris Kristofferson and Cohen band-mate Bob Johnston, a restless crowd of 600,000 began rioting following Hendrix’s electrifying set and it took Cohen, the Canadian-born folksinger, to quiet down the mob. With his stoic demeanor but haunting group of songs, he immediately turned a violent crowd into a mesmerized audience.

Most of Leonard Cohen presents the concert footage itself, with the performer singing in either medium long shot or close-up. The occasional shots of the dirty, disheveled audience before Cohen arrives on stage convey the enormity of the place, but since Cohen started his set after two a.m., the pitch-black surroundings confer an expressionistic look to an already dark and dangerous atmosphere.

It is hard not to compare the Leonard Cohen of 1970 to his contemporary, Bob Dylan, both in term of their curly-haired appearance and stripped-down style of storytelling. But it is the lesser-known Cohen who comes off as the more authentic, beginning with his Jewish heritage. (Cohen kept his birth name while Dylan changed his from Robert Allen Zimmerman.) More significantly, there’s the music: Cohen’s songs are far less catchy but considerably more moving (and frankly more pleasing to the ear). The highlights of this particular concert are the two beautifully painful tributes to women, “Suzanne” and “Seems So Long Ago, Nancy” (about a suicide victim). Yet, in his own more personal way, Cohen remains just as politically valid as Dylan minus the pretensions. Even Cohen’s patter between songs (“They’ve surrounded the island”) reveals a wicked, deadpan sense of humor missing from the more earnest Dylan.

The only real flaw of the film is the lack of exposition—Joan Baez briefly mentions Hendrix, but the importance of Cohen following the more famous rock star on stage is lost in the narrow focus of the film. (Likewise, the sociopolitical backdrop of the Isle of Wight festival is assumed, perhaps because it had been previously covered by Lerner.) Ostensibly, the absence of Cohen as one of the interviewees seems like another flaw, but Cohen’s current-day presence might have been too indulgent or imposing. Given his cult status, it is just as well he didn’t participate in front of the camera, leaving his work to eloquently speak (and sing) for itself.
Last edited by sirius on Sat Jan 23, 2010 5:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Isle of Wight release (Oct 20) - all details

Postby sirius » Sat Jan 23, 2010 5:49 am

HuffPost Review:

Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marshall- ... 32704.html


Either you're a Leonard Cohen fan or you're not; there seems to be no middle ground. Which pretty much sums up who the audience is for Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970.

The film by director Murray Lerner is receiving a brief theatrical run in New York beginning today (1/22/10) but is also being released on DVD as part of a package with the CD of the same show.

It's the epitome of narrowcasting: A single performance, fewer than a dozen songs, with little else onscreen beyond Cohen and his band. The camerawork is such that, though Cohen's intricate and insistent guitar-playing is heard, there's nary a shot that truly shows his hands during any of the musical performances. The sound is such that, while Cohen and his band are heard perfectly, the audience sounds like a small, appreciative club full of fans, when there were actually 600,000 people in attendance.

We do get a wee bit of history of the festival itself, which drew a massive crowd and degenerated into a brawling free festival after ticketless hordes burned the fences to gain entry. A couple of witnesses to the mayhem - performers Kris Kristofferson and Joan Baez - are shown in archival footage and contemporary interviews. And there are a few filmed images of the fires and of one festival organizer yelling at the crowd.

Which leaves Cohen himself, performing at 4 a.m. with a band called the Army and which included noted music producer Bob Johnston on keyboards and Charlie Daniels on both bass and fiddle. But, really, it's all Cohen.

Spindly, long-haired and beak-nosed, Cohen was at something of a peak at that point: a poet whose popularity had crept into the mainstream, with songs packed with erotic, provocative imagery, sung in a slightly droney baritone that seemed perfect for the lyrics in the same way Bob Dylan's voice has always seemed just right for his.

There's nothing ostentatious about the performances - just the casual, precise Cohen, enunciating each word clearly, stringing them together in ways that seem both mysterious and surprising. He runs through everything from Bird on a Wire and Suzanne to the relatively upbeat Tonight Will Be Fine, which sounds like a hoedown, compared to the rest.

Cohen never rushes a song or a lyric. Instead, he seems to come at them carefully, bit by bit, as though he were unwrapping a gift in fragile paper that he didn't want to tear. The audience - remember, it's 4 a.m., they're cranky, dirty, rebellious - seems to listen raptly, as thought some sort of benign wizard had suddenly appeared in their midst to mystify them.

Short at a mere 64 minutes, Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 is a fascinating document, less of a moment in history than in the development of an artist. Forty years later, he's still performing - and it's still an occasion when he does.
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Re: Isle of Wight release (Oct 20) - all details

Postby LisaLCFan » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:08 am

sirius wrote:The scruffy Canadian crooner-poet took the stage past 2am (shortly after Jimi Hendrix had set it on fire), and freshly roused from a nap, he’s the portrait of mellow, inhabiting his signature middle ground between oracle and lothario. Heard through the prism of the sleepy mass, Cohen’s lyrical surrealism becomes unusually pronounced, while songs slip away like dreams: As one line begins to make sense, the next evaporates into madness. The Isle of Wight crowd watches transfixed, as if in collective reverie; four decades on, filmgoers just might too.
I just love reading all of these reviews, and especially the ways that they describe Leonard! This is one of my favourites!
(I also like the one that describes him as a "benign wizard"!)

Thanks, sirius and sturgess66, for sharing these with us!
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Re: Isle of Wight release (Oct 20) - all details

Postby sturgess66 » Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:29 am

LisaLCFan wrote:
sirius wrote:The scruffy Canadian crooner-poet took the stage past 2am (shortly after Jimi Hendrix had set it on fire), and freshly roused from a nap, he’s the portrait of mellow, inhabiting his signature middle ground between oracle and lothario. Heard through the prism of the sleepy mass, Cohen’s lyrical surrealism becomes unusually pronounced, while songs slip away like dreams: As one line begins to make sense, the next evaporates into madness. The Isle of Wight crowd watches transfixed, as if in collective reverie; four decades on, filmgoers just might too.
I just love reading all of these reviews, and especially the ways that they describe Leonard! This is one of my favourites!
(I also like the one that describes him as a "benign wizard"!)

Thanks, sirius and sturgess66, for sharing these with us!
I know Lisa!! The good reviews just keep on rolling in for this album - and along with them are some fascinating remarks about Leonard Cohen!

Here's another from Variety -
At the time of the concert, Cohen's voice had not yet attained the gravelly basso profundo that came to characterize his stylistic reinvention. His more inflected notes and husky sincerity here belong to his wistful "troubadour" phase, making up in sheer hypnotic beauty what his vocalizations later gained in incantatory power.
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Re: Isle of Wight release (Oct 20) - all details

Postby holydove » Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:00 am

Just want to say, though I have watched the IOW dvd several times (along with the showing in Barcelona), when I discovered that they would be showing it at a theater (Cinema Village) in NYC, I thought it would be great to see it on a big screen, so I went to the theater last night - and OMG, it is MAGNIFICENT!

The close-ups of Our Man are OUT OF THIS WORLD - you can just totally dissolve into that face, those eyes. . . and of course, that voice. The images leave you with no question of the godliness of this Man (not that any of us ever questioned that (!) - but here it is reinforced for posterity); and it leaves no question that this Man was born a prophet & a sage - as one article said, "born ancient" - how perfectly stated. . . (not that we didn't know that either, but the on-screen images make it even more obvious, if that's possible).

The big screen also makes other details of the situation really vivid - especially the incredible hugeness of the crowd, the hypnotic effect of Leonard on the audience members, the whole mad chaos of the situation, which, as we know, our Leonard so artfully transformed by completely mystifying each and every one of the 600,000 souls that were privileged enough to be there to "behold his greatness".

So, just in case anyone was thinking that they didn't need to go to the theater because they've seen the dvd (probably noone here was thinking that, but just in case. . .), I would recommend going, if you can - it is really worth seeing!
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Re: Isle of Wight release (Oct 20) - all details

Postby benning » Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:10 pm

Holydove, was the showing you attended at Cinema Village crowded? I'm wondering about the likelihood of the movie's run being extended through next weekend.
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Re: Isle of Wight release (Oct 20) - all details

Postby holydove » Mon Jan 25, 2010 7:39 pm

benning, sorry to say, it was not crowded (and the theater is very small); there is also the fact that the theater's computer was down for at least a whole day, the day before the showing, so people were not able to get tickets online, and maybe, knowing how small the theater is, they didn't come because they thought there would be a long line - but that is speculation - I would recommend calling the theater (the recording gives a number to call for a live person) to get more info about their scheduling plans. Hope you can get there. . .
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Re: Isle of Wight release (Oct 20) - all details

Postby barbarita » Tue Jan 26, 2010 7:38 am

I was at Cinema Village this evening, seeing this for first time. It is simply mesmerizing on the big screen, and I recommend this to everyone, even if you get the DVD for yourself. Intimately filmed, and I am glad it wasn't any longer, was just right.

I thought about how just a couple of years later I saw Leonard at the Bottom Line ( which was located only a few blocks away from the movie theater) Thought about who I had been at that show with (my future ex-husband). Elated and nostalgic at the same time, I made my way to the subway. What a full circle: 40 years in circumference!


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Re: Isle of Wight release (Oct 20) - all details

Postby neo » Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:41 am

Ed Koch
Mayor Ed at the Movies
Jan 25 2010, 2:09PM

Calling All Leonard Cohen Fans

Last year I went to see Leonard Cohen's sold-out performance at Madison Square Garden at $250 a ticket. I had never heard of him, but my companions extolled his art, particularly his lyrics. Those lyrics are deemed to be poetry by his followers, very much in the style of Bob Dylan. The audience couldn't get enough of him.

I did not particularly enjoy that concert and wondered if I would feel differently about Cohen and his talents if I didn't have to pay such a hefty price to see him perform. So I decided to see this documentary, Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970, which covers his 1970 concert performance on the Isle of Wight that went on for five days before an audience of 600,000. Judy Collins, Joan Baez, and Kris Kristofferson also performed at that event, but their performances are not shown in the film. They are, however, interviewed on Leonard Cohen.

The difference in concert and movie ticket price did not cause me to change my mind. I found Cohen to be far better in both voice and presentation in his Garden performance than he was in 1970, but I have concluded that he has a cult following, and I am not caught up in the spell.

Joan Baez, whom I still adore after so many years, is interviewed in the documentary saying that Cohen's presentation proves that lyrics and their meaning are unimportant if he reaches you down deep as Cohen does. Maybe he does for some, but certainly not for me.

Under these circumstances, it would be unfair of me to pin a plus or minus on this film. Those who are part of his cult, should definitely see it. Those who have never seen him perform, should also see the movie so that you can judge his talents for yourselves rather than be influenced by an octogenarian who still considers Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" and Baez's "Diamonds and Rust" to be two of the greatest folk songs ever written.

The film is playing at the Cinema Village on 12th Street, between Fifth Avenue and University Place, one of my favorite theaters that shows offbeat films and has comfortable seats.

http://correspondents.theatlantic.com/e ... n_fans.php
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Re: Isle of Wight release (Oct 20) - all details

Postby sturgess66 » Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:31 am

From the Westmoreland Gazette -

http://www.thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk/ ... ard_Cohen/
SOUNDS WRITE - Leonard Cohen

5:41pm
Tuesday 26th January 2010

By Anthony Loman »

Legendary songwriter, performer, author and poet Leonard Cohen has had, for the most part of his lengthy career, something of a cult status, never really appealing to the masses, many of whom just didn’t really ‘get him’ or his music, believing (wrongly) that he was little more than a merchant of doom and gloom with his songs very likely to send the listener spiralling into a deep depression.

But that perception of Cohen has been completely turned on its head over the past two years when financial necessity (Cohen found that he had been duped out of several million dollars by a former manager/lover) meant that he was forced out of his on-stage retirement for a lengthy (and still ongoing) concert tour in order to recoup his losses.

This he has certainly succeeded in doing but at the same time, at the age of seventy-four, Cohen has gained himself a whole new audience, spanning every demographic, with his magnificent, truly uplifting shows that have been universally acclaimed, by both critics and fans alike, as amongst the very finest seen. The doubters have finally been won over, realising that Cohen’s music, especially when performed ‘live’, is in fact anything but a miserable experience and indeed, many thousands have left his shows on an exhilarating ‘high’. A Leonard Cohen concert is now just about the ‘hottest’ ticket around with the singer capable of selling out vast arenas in minutes, having now, in the twilight of his career, achieved genuine mass appeal, something that seemed most unlikely less than twenty-four months ago.

For fans who have admired Cohen for many a year, it is easy to be a little smug and wag their collective fingers in a “told you so” way to those who have only just ‘woken up and smelt the coffee’ with regard to finally recognising the brilliance of the man. And if anyone needs further evidence that Cohen has long been a musical treasure, they should check out the recently released 2CD & DVD of one of the singer/songwriters’ most revered performances at the Isle Of Wight Festival back in 1970. The Isle Of Wight Festival of that year was something of a glorious disaster with some 600,000 revellers in a field with barely enough facilities for 100,000. Cohen was one of the last acts to play, with the unenviable task of taking to the stage shortly after Jimi Hendrix’s slot during which the guitarist had set fire to the stage. By the time Cohen started his set at 4am, he was faced with a restless crowd and volatile atmosphere but his subsequent performance was remarkable for its poise, passion, zen-like calm, gently paternalistic attitude (he was already 35, twice the age of most of the audience) and the way in which it defused the tension that crackled in the air. Backed by a hand-picked band of musicians he called The Army and a trio of female vocalists, Cohen mesmerised the crowd with his early classics such as ‘Bird On A Wire’, So Long, Marianne’, Suzanne’ and ‘Famous Blue Raincoats’ as well as with his snatches of poetry between song anecdotes. Cohen never lets his grip slacken once over the 80 minutes he is on-stage, holding the audience firmly under his spell.

The DVD includes a beautiful film documentary from Academy Award winning director Murray Lerner and in addition has interviews with fellow festival performers including Judy Collins, Bob Johnston and Kris Kristofferson. Not only will this incredible CD & DVD package appeal to Cohen’s new, younger fans who will now get to witness for the first time this early career tour de force performance, it will also thrill all those who have been with him since the beginning and experienced this moment in Isle Of Wight history for themselves. And ‘Leonard Cohen Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970’ is a perfect reminder of why Cohen is still one of the most relevant and respected artists today.

...
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Re: Isle of Wight release (Oct 20) - all details

Postby mnkyface » Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:28 am

It's coming to the big screen in San Francisco! Feb 19-25
http://www.roxie.com/events/details.cfm ... A9F97300D3
The Roxie Cinema is the oldest continually operating theater in SF. What a perfect place to see this! And director Murray Lerner will be there IN PERSON at the Sat night screening...
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Re: Isle of Wight release (Oct 20) - all details

Postby bridger15 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 5:56 am

I love this review. It is really different. The opening and closing lines are priceless.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... 1C35N1.DTL
Review: Cohen live instills warm, cozy feeling

Peter Hartlaub, Chronicle Pop Culture Critic

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970

Documentary. Starring Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson and Judy Collins. Directed by Murray Lerner. (Not rated. 64 minutes. At the Roxie in San Francisco.)

Leonard Cohen would have been a fantastic hostage negotiator. Just amble half asleep into the situation, tell a random story and sing a few bars of "Bird on the Wire." What bad guy wouldn't apologize and surrender?

That was his successful approach - intentional or not - at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival, where the crowd of 600,000 was still on edge after a particularly combustible Jimi Hendrix performance. Cohen came onstage, creating an atmosphere that couldn't have been cozier if he tucked in each audience member by hand.

The moment is immortalized in Murray Lerner's brief but enjoyable "Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970." The director combines his intimate 40-year-old footage of Cohen - mostly performing songs from his first two albums - with shots of the crowd and new interviews with four witnesses, including Joan Baez and Kris Kristofferson.

Cohen's body looks lost onstage, but his voice is true, especially during his opener, "Bird on the Wire," and the intimate "The Stranger Song." Even with the barest of context, it's clear something very special is happening onstage.

The biggest knock against the film is the 64-minute run time. I'm guessing most audience members will want to relax in their seats an extra 15 minutes after it's done.

-- Advisory: This film is cinematic Ambien. Don't operate motor vehicles while still under the influence of Leonard Cohen.

E-mail Peter Hartlaub at phartlaub@sfchronicle.com.
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Re: Isle of Wight release (Oct 20) - all details

Postby MaryB » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:27 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: Thanks for my laugh of the day Arlene!
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Re: Isle of Wight release (Oct 20) - all details

Postby mnkyface » Sat Feb 20, 2010 12:58 am

Is anyone going to the SF screening? Marsha?? :D I would really like to go, as I haven't even seen the DVD yet. Can't make it this weekend but I could probably get over there MonTues or Weds...
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Re: Isle of Wight release (Oct 20) - all details

Postby sturgess66 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 4:23 am

From Seattle Post Globe -
http://www.seattlepostglobe.org/2010/03 ... wight-1970
posted 03/08/10 12:53 PM | updated 03/08/10 12:53 PM
Views: 136
Film Review: Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight, 1970
By Bill White
Post Globe Film Critic

Image
Even those with only a passing interest in Leonard Cohen
should see this amazing performance film, one of the finest of its era.


Poets have written about the disordering of the senses through means that might include drugs, eroticism, or prayer, in order to break down the barriers of consciousness and establish soul-to-soul communications with a great, mysterious Other. Usually the poetry resulting from such self de-fragging is obscure, if not meaningless, to those outside the experience. Once in a while, though, the poet breaks through to the people and poetry becomes prophecy. The world stops spinning for a sacred moment in which everyone joins the dance. Such an occasion was the 31st of August, 1970, at four in the morning, when, after five days of wallowing in their own sludge, 600,000 people awoke to a similarly ragged and haunted Leonard Cohen. For one angelic hour, both performer and audience occupied the column of smoke that rose from the singer’s breath and was carried away by passing clouds.

It is scandalous that Murray Lerner’s film of Cohen’s Performance at the Isle of Wight has , like so many other brilliant performances from the festival, languished unseen for forty years. His overview of the festival, “Message to Love,” was finally released in 1995, but contained only “Suzanne” from Cohen’s set. The complete set is nothing short of a revelation, not only for the transcendence of Cohen’s performance, but for the reception it received. Other guitar-slinging poets have held their audiences in awe, but there have been few occasions when said audiences actually got it. Lerner captures the soul-to-soul experience of several listeners being transformed by Cohen’s poetry in a way that is almost unheard of the setting of popular culture. The difference between this film and the recent Live in London dvd, is that today’s audiences worship Cohen while the 1970 audience worshipped with Cohen.

When Lerner intercuts contemporary interview footage with Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson, Judy Collins, or Bob Johnson, into the concert, it never breaks the mood of Cohen’s performance, but always adds a little to our understanding of it. This is a rare feat for a concert film, where it is common to suffer jarring cuts from the performance to inane backstage prattle and meaningless sound bites from friends and colleagues, and fans. Lerner uses comments by Judy Collins “Suzanne” to create what is surely the best introduction to a song made by somebody other than the on-stage performer. He also uses short bits from other performances, most notably Kris Kristofferson, to communicate the chaotic and hostile mood of the crowd in the hours preceding Cohen’s performance.

As a historical document, “Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970” is compromised by presenting an incomplete show with the songs presented in a different order than the one in which they were performed. The sound quality, as well as the 16mm photography, however, is excellent, and most of the performances are superior to their recorded versions. Since this is 1970, Cohen is still performing some gems, such as “One of Us Cannot Be Wrong” from his debut 1967 album, that have since disappeared from his set list. In addition to songs from the first two albums, some new material is previewed, including a version of “Sing Another Song, Boys” that became one of the highlights of the 1971 release, “Songs of Love and Hate.”

This film is a must for those with even a passing interest in Leonard Cohen. “The Partisan,” his song about the sacrifices made by the French Underground and those who assisted them, concludes the concert, although the film continues to no real purpose for some minutes after that. After Cohen sings, “An old woman gave us shelter / Kept us hidden in the garret / Then the soldiers came / She died without a whisper,” there is nothing much more that anybody can say.

“Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970” will be screened two times only at the Northwest Film Forum, at 9 pm on Friday and Saturday, March 12-13.

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