Over the course of 30-odd (and 30 odd) years, Neil Young And Crazy Horse have had their share of defining moments. Jarmusch can't sum them all up in 107 minutes by following a guitar player into his hotel room with a Hi-8 videocam and "a coupla cutesy questions". But what Jarmusch has done is assemble a visual patchwork of vignettes, interviews and performances that will take the curious as close as possible to the essence of how this remarkable rock band continues to perform and advance after three decades.
It's a powerful document, shot mostly on 8mm, that has a sense of rhythm as it switches tempo from 1996 (plus 1976 and 1986) interviews to concert performances. Particularly effective are the talking heads sequences in which Jarmusch (mostly unheard) interviews subjects in an anonymous laundry room.
But the essence of the band is the knot of energy they create on stage. Jarmusch understands this and, if nothing else, deserves an award for capturing so much of it during a performance of the song F*!#in' Up. As the shot switches between being static in the wings, watching grainily from a distance, and zooming close-up on the blur of guitar strings, we see Young (ridiculous in baggy shorts, black socks and dress shoes) headbanging and bumping hips with his bandmates. It's a million miles from MTV chic; instead a timeless record of a timeless band, now fifty-somethings uniting an everyman/woman/ child audience. Feel the power.