Neil Young's Greendale Film
Film Premiere, Mill Valley, CA - 10/12/03
Review by Robert Clark Young
Neil Young News
Review originally posted to Rust.
Had our own RustRow last night at the Sequoia Theater in Mill Valley for the Northern California premiere of the Greendale movie, on day 10 of the 26th annual Mill Valley Film Festival. Neil of course was in Austin, and his statement there that Austin was the actual US premiere is probably due to the fact that the Austin showing was a couple of hours before ours.
NB and I were the first in line, and we watched as one of the theater workers changed the movie posters, taping up the one for Greendale and locking it behind glass. I tried all night to break that glass but there were too many people around.
This older guy joined us and told us he wanted to see the Neil movie as a favor to Neil, because Neil had once bought out this guy's band at Cotati to play a stealth show. The guy used to play with Commander Cody, and played bass on the single "Hot Rod Lincoln." You meet all kindsa big celebs like that in Mill Valley, uh, every day and stuff.
Then the real celebrities arrived: Jim & Els, Bob, and Meleya, who was escorted by the President of the Junior Rusted Fan Club (official title). We had a great time chatting in line. Jim had a lot of great Solvang stories to tell.
Then this other guy came up to us, trying to scalp tickets to the movie. It just wouldn't be a Neil evening without scalpers. There were actually a few takers, and he said he would sell his tix to the person who could name a Neil Young song. The guy who bought them identified "Horse with No Name."
I really wish I was making that up.
Finally we got to go inside. The theater was packed. The second time I saw Human Highway, in Los Angeles, I had been the only person in the theater. This was very different.
We Rusties settled into our Rust Row with our popcorn. In the lobby, they'd handed out desserts--apple tarts and cheesecakes. Jim Beller was sitting next to me and ate his cheesecake like a contented and expectful Rustie.
They were playing Live Rust in the theater. We came in during Powderfinger, heard the Jamaican Cortez, then I requested Cinnamon Girl and Neil played it. Next NB got Meleya's little girl to play Hurricane and Neil played that. I was getting ready to request HHMM but the bastards cut the music.
Some theater guy came out and made some introductory comments, mostly about how talented Neil is, and how talented Neil is, and how talented Neil is. Etc. We knew Neil and his entire entourage were in Austin, and we were here to see the damned movie.
So now I am going to give you some highlights about this movie.
Fallin From Above--this was the only part I had already seen. I saw it when the Dublin show was broadcast on US cable--they threw in the FFA clip from the movie after the Dublin show. This part of the movie does a good job of setting up what I believe is a new movie genre--of Neil's invention--the "independent film music video." Shot in glorious Rustavision, of course. I love that blurry particularized home-movie effect. In terms of FFA, I will never get tired of watching Pegi Young feed chickens on the ranch. She's also pretty good in the kitchen.
Double E--This is NB's favorite song. She was pretty drunk and started rockin out in her chair. Her favorite line is "dusty white El Dorado..." Neil uses all of his own cool cars in this movie. Great wide shots of the front of that Caddy. It looks about three lanes wide, going down them country roads. I think this is the song that shows the Greendale high school cheerleaders--they have some damned fine cheerleaders at that school. Their sports teams are called The Fighting Demons.
Devil's Sidewalk--Cool special effects here--the Devil can walk through walls and stuff--he vaporizes and reappears--goes dancing down the streets of Greendale in his red shoes--very cool effects. Very high-tech-low-tech. Very Neil.
Leave the Driving--I should mention that the chapter numbers in the movie are all screwed-up--FFA is chapter III. The audience seemed to enjoy this a lot. Also, Leave the Driving got the most laughs. In fact, nobody had laughed so far. But the coke in the glove box got a BIG laugh. The weed in the trunk got an even BIGGER laugh. Curiously, nobody laughed when Jed shot a cop. But there were a lot of BOOOOs when the Bush Admin officials were shown. It was a good audience.
Carmichael--Am I crazy, or was that Ben Young smiling at that cop's funeral? Neil as Wayne Newton got a big cheer from the Rust Row. I think he used shoe polish on his lambchops. What a goober! Nice cameo, Hitchcock!
Bandit--This song really got to me, as usual. Earl has the same computer I do, and has lived in some of the same motel rooms I've lived in, trying to be an artist. No way do I have a gut like his though. Also, if I were living in a motel room like that, using my computer and trying to be an artist and everything, and Pegi Young called me on the phone, I would, uh, go home!
Grandpa's Interview--At certain points in the movie, there are all kindsa Neil political thoughts scrolling in newscript along the bottom of the screen in a parody of cable news. One of them reads something like "Radio stations ban song in which artist compares US foreign policy to an SUV out of control." That is a paraphrase. It is very close, of course, to Neil's famous statement about Bush being a drunk driver dangerously piloting an out-of-control SUV. Don't remember if this scrolled by during Grandpa's Interview or some other show. During this song, the audience seemed very willing to connect with Neil's media hatred. Also, the helicopters were a scream. I thought Meleya was going to lose it completely. They are real helicopters, but they act like cartoons--they go backwards in weird spurts and stuff--pretty funny Neil stuff! Jim Beller went to the restroom somewhere in here but nobody in the row behind us was violent toward him or anything. Also, I forget which song shows the Devil cleaning Earl's glasses so he can paint his big Devil/Alaska picture that Lenore will finally display. Might have been this song. As Meleya later pointed out, now you get to see what is going on during Neil's guitar playing. So this is NOT just pointless "noodling around" as some "professional" "music" "critics" claimed.
Bringin Down Dinner--Pretty good dramatic roles for Grandma and Sun here. The acting reminds me of silent movies--pretty damned cool. Sun even looks something like Lillian Gish.
Sun Green--The audience really dug the Eagle business. This song has a lot of different things going on, lots of cutting back and forth. Also, it provides confirmation of what I believe to be the FIRST time that RUSTIES have influenced Neil Young in His work. The "Imitators" are definitely the Rusties who jam at OPL during IRF. "John Lee's Bar" is OPL. That whole scene was filmed there, and Amber in her mod black-frame glasses gets a close-up. I think it's endlessly cool that the Rusties have managed to influence Neil's work like this.
Be the Rain--Filmed at the Fox Theater. It even says "Greendale Rehearsals" on the marquee!! Now how the hell did we miss that one, folks? Unfortunately, what is filmed on the Fox stage is NOTHING compared to what occurs during the stage show during this song. For me and NB, this was the only part of the movie that didn't live up to the stage show. The intentensity of BTR live is simply not caught here or communicated in any way--chiefly, I suspect, because it hadn't occurred yet!
So, those are some movie highlights. I know I've left a lot out, and have probably misremembered where some things go.
Soon you will all have this movie in your homes on tape or DVD and will enjoy five or six times a night. It is a thousand times better than Human Highway, and hangs together as an "independent film/music video." It has a lot of artful symbolism in it, like Neil filming a bird over the ocean whenever somebody dies. The pro-environment messages during BTR are so earnest as to appear to be cliches, but they are redeemed by their total sincerity.
So there you have it--a great great evening in Mill Valley--it was great to share this evening with the Rusties who were there! Long live the Rust Row!!
Neil Young Greendale
Thrasher's Wheat - A Neil Young Archives