What You Need To Know:
Though concert films can be tedious (there are only so many ways to shoot a singer on stage), the music is compelling and poetic, and the performances are earnest and heartfelt. While Cohen may be a controversial figure for many with faith and values, LEAONARD COHEN I’M YOUR MAN is a thoughtful exploration of an artist and the inspiration behind his craft as well as a joyful reprise of some of his best music. There are some references, however, to Cohen's Zen Buddhism.
(PaPa, FRFR, C, L, S, NN, A) Strong pagan worldview mixed with some explicit Buddhist teaching, and Jesus is referenced in a poem but not irreverently; no obscenities or profanities, but some lyrics referring to sexual activity; no violence; several allusions in song lyrics to sexual activity including one to oral sex; three pictures of singer Leonard Cohen’s drawings of topless women, plus female cleavage; Cohen refers to drinking and a barmaid serves drinks; no smoking; and, nothing else objectionable.
LEONARD COHEN I’M YOUR MAN is part concert film, part biographical documentary exploring the life and work of singer/songwriter and author Leonard Cohen. During a career that has stretched almost forty years, and with a voice as grave as Johnny Cash, Cohen has turned his existential musings into a pop music canon.
Much of the film was shot in Sydney, Australia at the 2005 tribute concert “Came So Far for Beauty,” where a number of popular singers performed highlights from Cohen’s extensive collection. Intercut with these performances are interviews with other musicians whose work Cohen has influenced as well as discussions with Cohen himself, in which he ruminates on the meaning and significance of his work and experiences.
Many of the musicians interviewed speak in reverential terms about Cohen as a prophetic voice, a man with spiritual vision whose words strived to “express the inexpressible.” Edge, the guitarist for U2, even likens him to the ancient Irish monks who sequestered themselves in order to obtain deeper wisdom from God. There is a strong motif of spiritual hunger and searching running through the movie, echoing both Cohen’s own spiritual journey and the preoccupation of his songs. He touches briefly on being a Jew growing up in Montreal, and being affected by the Bible as a boy in his synagogue. Later, Cohen alludes to broken relationships and a personal crisis that led to his conversion to Zen Buddhism where, indeed, he chose the monastic path, though not of the Irish Christian variety (Cohen is an ordained Zen monk). The world-denying fatalism of his Buddhist faith figures heavily toward the end of the movie as Cohen sums up his life and music.
Mostly, the movie is about the music. Though concert films can be tedious (there are only so many ways to shoot a singer on stage), the music is compelling and poetic and the performances are earnest and heartfelt. The movie will be of special interest to Cohen enthusiasts but music fans of many stripes will find this an engaging and enjoyable experience.
While Cohen may be a controversial figure for many with faith and values, both Jews and Christians, LEAONARD COHEN I’M YOUR MAN works as a thoughtful exploration of an artist and the inspiration behind his craft as well as a joyful reprise of some of his best music.