Lou Reed's Berlin (2008)
Critic Consensus: Julian Schnabel expertly captures the dark melancholy of Lou Reed's misunderstood concept album in this moving concert documentary.
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Critic Reviews for Lou Reed's Berlin
Reed's dour, bombastic song-suite about the lives of the drug-addicted and downtrodden steadily acquired cult cachet over the decades, peaking with its staging as a complete-album concert in 2006, which Lou Reed's Berlin documents.
Who could have guessed that nearly 35 years after its release, Lou Reed's once-reviled concept album Berlin would inspire a sold-out concert, shot with loving awe by Julian Schnabel?
Your enjoyment will hinge entirely on whether you think the album is a masterpiece or a bore.
In Julian Schnabel's grimly majestic concert film Lou Reed's Berlin, Mr. Reed wears the deadpan smirk of a Zen master who has endured punishing Buddhist training.
For Reed fans -- for rock fans -- the movie is an essential document of a noteworthy event.
Audience Reviews for Lou Reed's Berlin
"Lou Reed's Berlin" is a concert performance by Lou Reed and lots of friends of his critically panned 1973 album at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn. The concert is enhanced by footage(featuring Emmanuelle Seigner) to tell the narrative of the concept album but director Julian Schnabel only goes halfway. A truly immersive multimedia experience would have been the way to go, for a lot of the images are projected onto the back wall behind Lou Reed which was never intended for that. In fact, the final songs work best with no projections or any other distractions. As with any concert film, simple is best and while the lack of audience reaction shots is refreshing, the camera technique is not the best. And while I usually do not recommend this, some interview footage would have gone a long way towards explaining the album's history. As it is, Julian Schnabel's perfunctory introduction provides only scant information. By the way, I am not particularly a fan of Lou Reed but went into this with an open mind. So, that probably explains why I have had the Aimee Mann song "Goodbye Caroline" playing in my head all day.
My favorite Lou Reed album, and one of the most depressing everwas finally played live last year. For the most part, Lou is faithful to the album versions in the performance, with some added jamming which turns a 50 minute album into a 70 minute concert. The direction is good, mostly performance, with intersnippets of "Caroline" who we just see in various states of manic happiness. Antony of the Johnsons provides some background vocal as well as the main highlight, an encore performance duet of the VU's "Candy Says". Definitely check that out.
Great songwriting, creative arrangements, an androgynous back up singer with an emotional rendition of "Candy Says" stop the show. The only complaints I have are the superfluous "conductor" bouncing around in the middle of the stage and the moments where a 60 plus year old Lou Reed looks like he's going to doze off in the middle of a song.
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