Here it is: the mini-blog-a-thon in honor of the film, Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man, and all his songs, poetry, and writing. Please feel free to comment on all things Leonard Cohen! Joining us in this discussion throughout today and tomorrow are a few of my favorite bloggers:
Zach Campbell at Elusive Lucidity
Michael Guillen at The Evening Class
You cannot tell the audience everything you know about love in every line of love you speak. - Leonard Cohen, How to Speak Poetry
On Wed., June 21, I attended the NY opening of Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man, and from the very beginning I felt that seeing this documentary
was similar to being a fly on the wall of a Shakespearean theater from
centuries ago, where the performers might discuss the playwright/poet's
influence or their impressions of him, where they would act out scenes
from his works, and between this drama and reflection, Shakespeare
himself would appear, revealing fragments of his life!
There is no more stage. There are no more footlights. You are among the people. Then be modest. Speak the words, convey the data, step aside.
It's true. The doc captures footage from the collaborative
tribute "Came So Far for Beauty," but interwoven throughout the concert
are direct excerpts from interviews with Leonard Cohen, as well as
archival film and photography. The filmmaker, Lian Lunson, gets it!
The essence of her long talks with L.C., who became a friend, are what
remain on screen. I must confess that it was a little like hearing the
Dalai Lama speak in Central Park!
Leonard Cohen's participation in this kind of documentary, with numerous artists and personal expressions, is a gesture of inclusiveness and grace. If there is no more stage, then maybe it's fair to conclude that the composition of this doc is how he wanted it to be. With so many spirits participating along with L.C., there was the irreplaceable quality of surprise. The film breathed with life. Antony Hagerty's performance of "If It Be Your Will" caused the audience at Film Forum to applaud right there in the theater . . . and this is NY!
This is an interior landscape. It is inside. It is private. Respect the privacy of the material. These pieces were written in silence.
The documentary is a poem. Try to approach the film as a reader. See the invisible. Leonard Cohen is in every frame! I will not tell you what he says and does in this film. I think that it is important for you to experience this in your own way. If you are already a fan, you've probably been waiting forever for his public appearance of some nature. I know that I have! I've spent a long time studying his poems late into the night (10,000 nights for me too!) so much that I feel that Leonard Cohen is the one who taught me how to write.
Still, L.C. is enshrouded in mystery. One of my friends and I were trying to describe what we loved about his songs and poetry. We concluded that L.C. captures his prayers and sensuality in a way that is honest and practically stripped of ego. How can he write poems where he isn't necessarily the hero?! There were ideas revealed in this film that I still do not understand yet. But this is the Leonard Cohen film I wanted. I found what I was looking for, but it will take years for me to know fully what it means . . .
Avoid the flourish. Do not be afraid to be weak. Do not be ashamed to be tired. You look good when you're tired. You look like you could go on forever.
This is the hardest part. If the poem is data, then how do we not become entranced with our own illusions, our own myopic desires, our own attachment to an idealistic portrait of ourselves? I think that Leonard Cohen's genius is that he writes from a perspective where he can address his experiences with an almost impossible honesty.
That's the man, Leonard Cohen.
(Note: I wrote a blog post about L.C. in January. I'm afraid to go back and read it now, but if you are interested, please review it here.)