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Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin' About Him)? (2010)

tomatometer

83

Average Rating: 7/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.

audience

88

liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 721

My Rating

Movie Info

This feature documentary focuses on the brilliant, but eccentric, late singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson. The Beatles once proclaimed Nilsson as "their favorite group," and he was on top of the world in the early '70s, courted by the elite of popular music and film. (He became best friends with the Beatles and Ringo was his best man.) He was riding the crest of a remarkable wave of success. Yet, in just a few short years, his glorious voice would be in tatters, his health ruined and he would be

Oct 26, 2010

$29.8k

Lorber Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (12) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (1) | DVD (2)

A personal, generous tribute reel designed to keep a musical master's legacy very much alive.

September 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Conventional in style and is likely to mean more to the sadly forgotten musician's fans than to others.

September 10, 2010 Full Review Source: New York Post | Comments (2)
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The point of it is not, in the end, to explain him or solve the mystery of his life, but rather to spend time in his company and understand why he is someone to be missed.

September 10, 2010 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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There's been so little written about Nilsson or archiving of his work that Who Is Harry Nilsson is a godsend just for bringing together so much rare footage.

September 9, 2010 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club
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Who Is Harry Nilsson is a worthwhile portrait of a genius who made beautiful music, and a case study for how to tragically, epically self-destruct.

September 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sticking closely to the archival footage and talking-heads formula, it's the quality of the former and the sense of personal involvement in the latter that elevates the film above the run-of-the-mill rockumentary.

September 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

John Sheinfeld's portrait revisits the man, the artist and the reputation, with a wealth of TV performance clips and interviews with friends, family and colleagues...

November 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Seanax.com
Seanax.com

You will leave the theater singing, if with a touch of melancholy.

September 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Oregonian
Oregonian

On the one hand, the film is a cautionary too-much-too-soon story that was a cliché even before what Casey Kasem refers to as the Rock Era; on the other hand, it also has enough touching, amusing and/or appalling episodes to make it compulsively watchable

September 10, 2010 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

This rich portrait of a most complex artist beautifully, movingly and humorously explains the enigma, glory and tragedy of his life.

September 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

...does something that few such films accomplish: it allows the audience to feel as though they have walked a mile in a man's shoes.

August 29, 2010 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

Audience Reviews for Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin' About Him)?

A very interesting look into the life of one of my favorite musicians. Nilsson's life seemed to be unlike anyone other's, including friendships with The Beatles, Robin Williams, and legendary producer Richard Perry. Exploring through Harry's music, accounts from his former friends, and even a voice over narration from Nilsson himself, this proved to be one of the most interesting docs about a musical genius who has passed made.
December 28, 2010
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

requiem for a guy who almost wasn't famous. considered by many of his peers to be one of the finest singer/songwriters of his generation, his brief brush with success almost destroyed him. most remembered today for singing someone else's song which became the theme of the oscar winning film midnight cowboy, he resolutely refused to tour or do anything conventionally. if you've heard the recent cee-lo hit fuck you, nilsson did something very similar--in 1972! a legendary party monster who counted the beatles among his close personal friends, he'll forever be a footnote in rock history if only because both 'mama' cass eliot and who drummer keith moon died in his london apartment, 4 years apart. he wasn't home either time and soon sold the cursed flat to pete townshend. the film gets a little overly sentimental towards the end but it's well worth seeing for the quality of first hand accounts from nilsson contemporaries and even nilsson himself, in a recently discovered autobiographical tape recording. he managed to outlive many of his friends and died in 1994 age 52, probably older than anyone expected back in the day.
November 10, 2010
rubystevens
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

A meticulous, well-made documentary about the late singer-songwriter, though it never quite gets inside his head to explain why he was so self-destructive. It's too bad that more archived conversation footage wasn't available -- the prime resource for Nilsson quotes seems to be a mere phone interview. But actually, the film is overlong in other ways and may fatigue viewers who are not hardcore devotees (personally, I find Nilsson just too cloying to fully enjoy). Interesting revelations for me included learning he was such a happy family man late in life (wow, six kids?) and that he refused to do any full-fledged concerts. For an artist with his Top 40 orientation, that's quite a ferocious stance.
May 10, 2012
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

Fantastic! Everything about the man (musically and personally) is so intriguing and wonderful. This was a great movie and an absolute pleasure to watch.
February 11, 2011
Jason Reneau

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?) (DE)
  • Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?) (UK)
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