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Horsing Around

Neil Young

Jim Jarmusch chronicles a year in the life of Neil Young's Crazy Horse

By Todd S. Inoue

RHYTHM GUITARIST Frank "Poncho" Sampedro is the most perspicacious participant in Year of the Horse, the new Jim Jarmusch documentary about Neil Young's Crazy Horse. Again and again, Sampedro asks Jarmusch how he can summarize 30 years of making rock music with one or two questions. It can't be done. Jarmusch (Mystery Train) succumbs to his subject's whim and lets the music do the talking. This mostly Super 8 documentary/concert film of Young and Crazy Horse captures the raw energy and intimacy that still possesses the group after three decades of performing.

Like most "rockumentaries," Year of the Horse follows the band across centerstages and backstages, in tour buses and hotel rooms. Monstrous versions of "Fucking Up," "Like a Hurricane," "Tonight's the Night" and many others are captured on blurry celluloid. Though the Seattle and French stages are wide and expansive, the four members of the group are never more than five feet from each other, forging a unique bond that creates what Poncho calls "one big guitar sound." The primitive look of the film echoes that statement. Jarmusch is the antidirector, intercutting backstage remembrances with long shots of four hairy men lost in a cosmos of a jam.

Year of the Horse (Rated; 107 min.), a documentary by Jim Jarmusch.

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From the Oct. 30-Nov. 5, 1997 issue of Metro.

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