Year of the Horse

A Neil Young and Crazy Horse Film by Jim Jarmusch

Crazy Horse appears tame on film

Ottawa Citizen Review, February 18, 1998

Neil Young News

Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 18:11:15 -0500
From: "Allan Meek (SCC)"
Subject: YOTH Review in Ottawa Citzen / Sorry, can't make it :-(

Reprinted from the Ottawa Citizen without permission.
Wednesday, February 18
Crazy Horse appears tame on film
By Norman Provencher

Year of the Horse * * * (3 stars)
Starring: Neil Young, Frank (Poncho) Sampedro, Billy Talbot, Ralph Molina
Directed by: Jim Jarmusch
Rating: AA
Playing at: ByTowne Cinema

Manuel Francisco (Poncho) Sampedro, the most dangerous rhythm guitarist in the world, figures he knows what's happening and he doesn't like it much.

"So what we've got," he says, aiming his RayBans right at the camera and folding a couple of massive forearms over his Jimi Hendrix T-shirt, "is some artsy-fartsy New York director gonna ask a bunch of stupid questions and pretend like you're explaining what's been a 30-year relationship."

The nervous laughter behind the camera shows Poncho's pretty much hit the nail on the head.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse is, arguable the most influential band in rock and roll. Not because they're the best musicians in any technical sense (Poncho Sampedro allowed in an interview with the Citizen as how he has "one guitar, one amp and one chord.") Not because they're pretty boys: they're all in their 50s and are probably the gnarliest bunch of musicians you'll ever see.

No, the beauty and power of Crazy Horse lies in the fact that for 30 years, they've spent all of their time striving to get to the core of rock and roll, to strip away artifice and pretension until all that's left is energy and emotion. Oddly, this purity has never really been captured on the band's recordings.

Crazy Horse is, above everything, a live creature.

Which also probably explains why the band can't really be captured on film, even by such an obvious fan as director Jim Jarmusch.

Jarmusch is pretty much a cult-film guy (Dead Man, Down by Law), whose fascination with rock is well-documented. For example, rockers Tom Waits and Iggy Pop have acted in Jarmusch movies and Neil Young wrote the soundtrack for Dead Man.

It was during that period when Jarmusch hit on the idea of going out on the road to document Crazy Horse's 1996 world tour (which played the Corel Centre.)

It's a good idea and probably long overdue. The problem is, as Poncho Sampedro points out in an interview, Jarmusch brings in just enough hip, cool New York film auteur stuff to detract from the music and become downright irritating at times.

To begin with, the movie's concert footage is shot in Super 8, ostensibly to communicate the gritty, raw energy of the band.

After about five minutes, though, it just seems like watching the band through the smoke at a Whistler party.

There are pointless parts of dramatic rolling clouds, a weird animation sequence, Mackenzie Brothers zoom-in shots, and surprisingly boring interview segments with the band and Neil Young's father, Toronto sportswriter Scott Young.

On the other hand, thankfully, there is the music, shot at shows in Washington State and at a beautiful Roman ampitheatre in Vienne, France. Young - most of the time in baggy shorts and tasteful black socks - and the band storm their way through about 10 songs like Stupid Girl, Sedan Delivery and the classic Like a Hurricane, and establish once and for all what all the fuss is about.

In the end, it's not quite as good as the real thing but, thankfully, it's not quite an art film either.


Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the Friday screening as I had originally planned. Why are they showing it at 10:45 PM anyway? The Wednesday and Thursday screenings were both at 9:30. Oh well, I'll have to either buy my own movie theatre or wait till it comes out on video... To the various Ottawa Rusties that I've been in contact with at some point in time or another: maybe next time, guys.... :-(

( movies alone......)

More reviews of Year of The Horse film.

Also, see another interview with Crazy Horse's "Poncho" Frank Sampedro from "Year of the Horse" tour and an interview with Crazy Horse's bass guitar player Billy Talbot.

Also, for more see Jim Jarmusch page.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse

Neil Young Films

Neil Young Interviews