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Judge Brendan Babish • Location: Upland, CA
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Philadelphia Film Festival Review #5: Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man
April 5th, 2006 6:28PM

Title: Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man
Director: Lian Lunson

Though I've tried, I have never been able to appreciate Leonard Cohen's music. I admire his lyrics, but his flat, detached vocal delivery just doesn't move me. Despite these reservations, I decided to check out I'm Your Man, partially in the hope that it would turn me on to Cohen's music. So did the movie inspire to go out and snatch up all of Cohen's albums? Not quite.

I'm Your Man is part interview, part biography and part concert film. The extended interview with Cohen is entertaining. He tells some funny stories and makes insightful observations about the music business. Watching him, one easily understands why he is recognized as a wizened guru of pop music. Still, the meat of the movie, the reason you should pay $10 to see this on the big screen, is the performances.

Thankfully, for those of us who haven't drank the Leonard Cohen kool-aid, the concert is not Cohen's. The concert is a medley of tribute performances by some of the most talented young musicians working today. The lineup is quite formidable, but some of the highlights include: Rufus Wainwright performing three songs, all brilliantly, Martha Wainwright emoting all throughout “The Traitor,” Beth Orton & Jarvis Cocker dueting on “Death of a Ladies' Man,” and Antony (of Antony & the Johnsons) warbling “If It Be Your Will.” While I personally was not inspired to buy any of Cohen's albums, I think a cinema could start a lucrative side business by selling Antony's “I Am a Bird” to exiting theatergoers. Man, that guy can sing.

What these artists provide, and what Leonard Cohen lacks, is raw emotion. They inject a soul into his well-crafted lyrics. I don't know how Cohen fans will react to this collection of covers, but this neophyte sure enjoyed himself.

Grade: B+

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