Man, I'll tell ya. So thanks to the footage—and the subject matter—this looks like it'll be utterly riveting...in parts. And because of the damn guy behind the film, the guy being interviewed, the titular character, the villain of the piece, it's going to be equally insufferable in parts. I mean, I nearly punched my computer screen twice just watching the trailer. Every word that comes out of his mouth feels like it's been written and rewritten and rehearsed a dozen times before the cameras even started rolling. (And thanks to The Last Waltz, we know that's far from unlikely.)
Obviously Bruce Springsteen is my favorite solo artist ever and Eric Clapton's might also still in my list of Top 10 Favorite Artists ever, and Van Morrison's way the hell up there, and his recent comments notwithstanding, I'm a huge Martin Scorsese fan. But it's HIGHLY telling that the ones they interviewed--or at least who are most prominently called out in the articles about the documentary and in the trailer, are all...solo artist types. They've either never really been in a band or it's been a long damn time since they were and when they were it was for brief periods before imploding.
(Although Springsteen is right on the money when he says: "There is no band that emphasizes becoming greater than the sum of their parts than The Band." And nothing makes that more crystal clear than Robertson's perfectly fine but lightyears from legendary solo career—a solo career that's now 43 years long, well over four times as long as the Band's career.)
"Something got broken and it was like glass—it was hard to put back together again." Yeah, d-bag: and you were the one who broke it. You broke The Band. One of the greatest bands ever, and you destroyed it. You knew—or maybe you didn't really know yet—how amazing the chemistry was between these five incredible musicians, and yet you decided you had to be the leader, and virtually the sole songwriter, despite how vital the songwriting contributions of the others (especially the fragile as crystal Richard Manuel) was.
Don't get me wrong, I have no doubt working with those guys was hella difficult, especially once the drugs and drink really started to take hold. But come on, man. Enough with the revisionism. "We thought, let's come together one last time: The Last Waltz." No, homeboy. The others were very clear about it over the years: You decided. They wanted to keep going. Hey, if you want to quit a band, you get to. Absolutely. 100%. But don't lie about how and why it happened.
I mean, even the damn title: Robbie Robertson and the Band. They keep talking about how magical it was when these guys got together, and yet the guy who broke them up still needs to have his damn name in the title, even though it runs counter to the precise thesis of the damn film. Feh.
You know what would be great? Not just for this documentary—although hell yeah it would've—but in general? Interview guys from bands that were or have been together for a really long time about how goddamn hard it is to keep bands together. Interview the guys from, say, U2 and REM and Pearl Jam and Rush and ZZ Top specifically about what it's really like to be in a band with the same guys for decades. 'cuz there's a reason so few bands stay together for that long.
Footage looks amazing, of course. Can't wait to see it.