3.5 stars. This really surprised me. Since it's part of the "summer concert series", I thought it would have music. There's background music, and a really goofy narrator. Apparently, before Leonard Cohen became a folk musician, he was just a professional beatnik! And his whole act is a total put-on. Before this, I used to listen to his music and thought he was sincere. "Summer concert series" indeed!
Perhaps the film does him a disservice. There does seem to be a lot of negative remarks about him. He is not responsible for his upbringing. He is not responsible for the positive criticism of his work at this time. At most he could be accused of a little vanity at having a puff piece made about him. Who would say no? It's a little time capsule.
Classic NFB mid-length portrait of Leonard Cohen circa 1964 which finds him still enjoying the fame of his recently published poetry and giving us a glimpse of the pre- musical icon he would become. Seeing Cohen wander around Montreal is both recognizable and serves as a document of a time past and things lost to re-development and history. That after hours glimpse of 'Ben's' reminds one of many a late meal.
You know, Leonard Cohen's art is pretty good. And the film's not so bad either. It'd be unfair to base my judgment of either on his near-insufferable personality... Groovy snapshot of 1960s Montreal, and one of its more turgid characters.
Before the Chelsea Hotel rumpy-pumpy, the booze and the zen buddhism, there was a charming little bourgeois flaneur who was very into himself. My only regret is that there isn't more of old Montreal on display here although at least the commentary is hilarious: e.g. "He is fascinated by the violence of the Mediterranean but has developed a strong distaste for meat."
It is a tribute to Mr. Cohen that he can survive such a public display of monumental pretentiousness unscathed. This may be an odd admission from someone like myself who abhors the culture of wealth and privilege he grew up in, but at the end of the day the reason this is such a powerful document is that it provides a measuring stick with which to gauge just how much he overcame in order to excel at his craft.
An intriguing peak at a little known side of Cohen's career. Focusing on his days as a writer and speaker, he is presented as a charismatic enigma even without guitar in hand. The problem is that the filmmakers don't seem to understand the man. The lite jazz soundtrack and overbearing voice-over clash with Cohen's sensibility. Without capturing his essence, it feels like little more than an opportunistic tease.
"There are dreams of glory whispering through the wires of my spine." A beautiful documentary about a young Leonard Cohen. I feel so much love for this wonderful soul. And just another evidence of his greatness: An Interview in 2009: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugh8Xe6hX7U. Thank you, Mr. Cohen.