Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Monkey Movie Review

We watched this fascinating documentary last night:
I was just hitting my teenage years when Harry Nilsson was hitting it big as a solo artist and I remember his hits on the radio. It seemed like you could not escape his music. I liked it but it really wasn't my cup of tea. Then a little later as the 1970's wore on and I began to read Rolling Stone and other pop culture magazines of the day I remember reading about what a wild man Nilsson was. He partied hard and his exploits were legendary. Then after 198o he just fell off my radar.

Until now. I had been wanting to see this film and when I saw my local library had it I snapped it up. It's a fascinating documentary about a musician who influenced pop culture more than you ever thought. He started recording in the mid to late '60's and everyone from the Monkees to Three Dog Night had hits with his songs. Then people discovered his distinctive voice and songwriting talent and he became a staple on the radio for a time. His cover of the theme song to Midnight Cowboy catapulted him to fame and his early '70's album Nilsson Schmilsson brought him fame and fortune beyond his wildest dreams. This in depth and touching documentary tells what happened to him during those years and beyond. It's a loving yet warts and all tale the filmmaker tells and it's well worth your time.

I had no idea that his songs and his influence touched so many in the music business. I had no inkling of which now standard songs were his or covered by him. It floored me when I saw that he wrote the songs and the score for the Robert Altman film Popeye, a favorite here at Monkey Central. And I had no idea that Nilsson did what he did in the wake of the murder of his friend John Lennon.

I guarantee you you've heard Nilsson's voice and his songs. And I guarantee you that you'll love this film as much as I did. Well, maybe not as much as I did because you may not have come of age in the '70's like I did.

I highly recommend this film. Highly.


Mnmom said...

How I managed to be your age and not learn about him is amazing. I didn't really "find" him until I had kids. He recorded some wonderful kids' music.

rob4drok said...

Nilsson was an incredibly gifted, and interesting, artist. There are a couple of Mojo (great Brit rock mag that I have a long-term addiction to) articles on him that I might still have around, detailing some of his exploits ... may have to dig them out before watching this film! BTW, odd that his biggest "hits" were other people's songs, when he was such a great writer himself.

Some Guy said...

I second your recommendation, Dr. M. I liked it a lot, too.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I've been wanting to see this one for a while. Good to hear it lives up to expectations.

Jeffrey said...

Saw this flick a couple of months ago....absolutely brilliant. Who would have ever thought that this man was The Beatles muse for a few years. Great and underrated songwriter! Gone too soon.

Blueberry said...

I am going to track this one down.