2009 / 83 mins / USA / Colour / English / Concert Film
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Cast : Neil Young
Trunk Show: a traveling display of unique goods, packed and unpacked along the way. Neil Young Trunk Show: Jonathan Demme's display of Neil Young's musical and spiritual soul. Young on a stage full of personal icons; alone in the center of a circle of his beloved acoustic guitars; in the midst of stellar musicians Ben Keith, Ralph Molina, Rick Rosas, Pegi Young and Anthony "Sweet Pea" Crawford, plus an onstage painter portrayed by Eric Johnson. There are delicately offered acoustic numbers like "Sad Movies" and "Mexico"; mesmerizing electric travelogues into the artist's psyche ("No Hidden Path"); searing, chaotic anthems including "Like a Hurricane" and "Cinammon Girl"; and rarely performed pieces like "Kansas" and "Ambulance Blues" that provide glimpses of Young's less public persona. Shot with a mix of video and film cameras, mostly handheld, NYTS presents the kinetic reality of a Neil Young performance in breathtakingly intimate fashion. Young and his band are captured with great immediacy, often in dramatically long takes that let the viewer experience Young opening up his heart song by song, and then blowing it all away in heated, uninhibited displays of rock and roll power.
The words Trunk Show conjure visions of unique and precious goods, displayed from old chunky leather-strapped luggage. The images recall a time of purposeful travel, when people moved across the country with deliberate speed. Neil Young’s Trunk show uses the traveling exhibit concept to bring to life his collection of rare song gems (“Mexico,” “Kansas” and the “The Sultan”), crowd favorites (“Cinammon Girl,” “Cowgirl in the Sand” and “Like a Hurricane”) and more recent material (“No Hidden Path” and “The Believer”). It is a collection for the ages.
Young surrounds himself with his favorite instruments, played at whim, and a stage set filled with personal icons: a small-scale model of a guitar shop, a red phone and other items. The feeling on the stage is of a favorite place where Neil Young is able to create his music exactly as he wants, supported by long-time touring band friends Ben Keith, Rick Rosas, Ralph Molina, Anthony “Sweetpea” Crawford and wife Pegi Young.
The spontaneous and raw film was shot during two shows at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania during the Chrome Dreams II tour. Director Jonathan Demme described it as “a reaction to ‘Heart of Gold,’” his previous film featuring Neil Young. That performance, done at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, was catefully staged for the camera, whereas Neil Young Trunk Show is caught on the fly. The viewer is taken into the live experience from all angles, including candid backstage moments with crew and complete set-up, from the wires to the rigging. “We didn’t plan anything,” said Demme. “This was the easiest film in the world to make.”
The Academy Award-winning director (“Silence of the Lambs,” “Philadelphia”), brought his veteran crew to shoot the two concerts with mostly hand-held cameras in HDCam, HDV and Super-8mm formats. The team included Director of Photography Declan Quinn (“Rachel Getting Married,” “28 Days,” “Leaving Las Vegas”) and a team of camera operators from Demme’s feature films and documentaries. “We made a home movie in a way,” noted Demme during the SXSW ’09 screening of the film.
Demme and editor Glenn Allen drew on the director’s longstanding relationship with Neil Young to provide viewers with an intimate portrait of the artist. The film uses long takes as an antithesis to the current fashion of quick-cutting, giving the music full reign over production techniques. The two nights allowed Young and his band to pull a wide-variety of songs, from the artist’s very early days right up to the present. The result is a lingering and emotional gaze at the interior character of Young, unpacked piece by piece from a lifetime of carefully-crafted music.
Director: Jonathan Demme
Produced by: Bernard Shakey, Elliot Rabinowitz, Jonathan Demme
Executive Producer: L.A. Johnson
Co-Producers: Mark Kamine, Elizabeth Hayes
Cinematography: Declan Quinn
Editor: Glen Allen
Set Designer: Peggy Eisenhower
Production Companies: Shakey Pictures, Clinica Estetico
Sound: Tim Mulligan
Neil Young: Vocals/ Guitar / Piano / Harmonica
Ralph Molina: Drums / Vocals
Ben Keith: Pedal Steel / Dobro / Guitar / Organ / Vocals
Rick Rosas: Bass / Vocals
Pegi Young: Vocals, Vibes, Guitar
Anthony Crawford: Vocals, Piano, Guitar, Mandolin Eric Johnson: The Painter
Cary Kemp: The Sultan
Available Light Film Festival, Feb 11, 2010
The Royal, Toronto: Opens March 26
Friday March 26th @ 9:30pm
Saturday March 27th @ 9:30pm
Sunday March 28th @ 4:30pm and 9pm
Monday March 29th @ 9pm
Tuesday March 30th @ 9pm
Wednesday March 31st @ 9pm
Thursday April 1st @ 9pm
Friday April 2 @ 9:30
Saturday April 3 @ 9:30
Vancity, Vancouver: March 5 / March 26 - April 1
Cinematheque Winnipeg: March 26, 27, 28, 31, and April 1 @ 7:00 PM & 9:15 PM
(Sun. Mar 28- 7:00 PM only)
April 2,3, 7 & 8 / 9:00 PM - Extra Show Added: May 16
Cinematheque Winnipeg: April 2,3, 7 & 8 / 9:00 PM - Extra Show Added: May 16
Plaza Cinema, Calgary: April 2 - 8
Fri April 2@ 1:50 & 7:10
Sat April 3 @ 7:10
Sun April 4 & Mon April 5 @ 1:50 Mats
Tues April 6 & Wed April 7 @ 7:10
Thurs April 8 @ 9:20
(Bonus shows added)
Fri Apr 9 @ 6:50
Sat Apr 10 @ 6:50
Sun Apr 11 @ 12:30 & 6:50
The Vancity, Vancouver: (Extra Show Added) Fri April 16 @ 10pm
Princess Cinema, Waterloo: April 8 - 12
Broadway Theatre, Saskatoon: April 16 - 29
Mayfair, Ottawa: April 16, 17 & 18
Rio Theatre, Vancouver: April 23, 25 - 27
Cinecenta, Victoria: May 5 & 6
Cinema du Parc, Montreal: May 13 @ 9pm (LET IT BEAT)/ Opens May 14
Fox Theatre, Toronto: May 26 & 27
Revue Cinema, Toronto: June 2 & 3
Metro Cinema, Edmonton: May 28 - 31
Mayfair, Ottawa: June 13 & 14 (Encore Screenings)
Gimli Film Festival, Winnipeg: July 21 - 25
Regina Public Library: July 29 & 30
"Trunk Show captures raw Neil Young"
- CBC News
4 Stars! "You should see Young perform live at least once in your lifetime if you can. He's intense, yet humble, and mesmerizing to watch on stage. Seeing Neil Young Trunk Show on the big screen is a close second."
3.5 Stars! "Neil Young keeps on rockin’ in the free world, looking more vital than ever in Neil Young Trunk Show, his second concert-film collaboration with director Jonathan Demme."
- Toronto Star
4 Stars! "Neil keeps on rockin' in the free world"
- Globe and Mail
"full-out recommendation that Young fans run right out and see it."
- Toronto Sun
4 Stars! "It appears Young is neither burning out nor fading away, a fact audiences should be infinitely grateful for"
- National Post
"From electric rock outs to acoustic whispers, it's all there right in front of you to hear, feel and absorb."
- Eye Weekly
"It's not always pretty, but Neil Young Trunk Show is very much rock 'n' roll."
- Winnipeg Free Press
4 Stars! "Perhaps it's the up-close perspective Demme provides – or maybe it's the fact that the now-64-year-old Young performs with the energy of a man half his age – but damned if the relatively simple Trunk Show doesn't thrill more than any other concert film in recent memory. It appears Young is neither burning out nor fading away, a fact audiences should be infinitely grateful for."