Free Shipping on 1000's of Items

  • Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? | Reveiw

    By | September 5, 2010

    Director: John Scheinfeld

    Writer(s): John Scheinfeld

    Harry Nilsson is not a household name.

    Originally released in 2006, Who is Harry Nilsson documents the rise and fall of a singer/songwriter who reached the apex of stardom in the 70s. While many aren’t familiar with Nilsson, his songwriting abilities are on display in hits recorded by other artists, such as Three Dog Night and The Monkeys. Nilsson himself found success singing “Without You” and “Coconut” as well as Fred Neil’s song for the film Midnight Cowboy, “Everybody’s Talking,” for which Nilsson would win an Oscar for Best Pop Male Vocal Performance.

    Scheinfeld’s documentary does Nilsson justice, documenting his impact on the music industry and the influential power his work had on artists such as The Beatles. Harry would become an undeniable influence among many artists of his time, but with substance abuse issues looming large, Nilsson would ultimately pay a price that would have a spiraling effect on his career. We get the impression that Nilsson was a star that burned twice as bright but half as long; the documentary leaves one wondering what further impact Nilsson’s own particular genius could have had if his demons had not come to call.

    Who is Harry Nilsson is heavy on interviews with those who knew Harry best. Speculation set aside, the interviews with his true friends and colleagues corroborate his abilities as a singer/songwriter and give a historical timeline to the unfortunate circumstances that would ultimately lead to his death. There is also a fair amount of footage of Nilsson performances and rare photos of Nilsson at work and at play. (There was a lot of play.)

    Indeed, Nilsson’s nights (and days) of decadence would eventually become as well known as his latest hit song. His all night (or all week) festivities and his ability to keep the wives of friends in a frenzy are chronicled, and it becomes evident that Harry knew how to party. While we see a man losing ground to his vices, the portrayal of his tendency to over-indulge is balanced by some light-hearted memories, which help to keep the documentary from becoming a somber tale of loss.

    A rare glimpse into the life of a particular individual can be a privilege of sorts, and indeed I felt that privilege when seeing his life unfold. A fan of all things musical, I was unfamiliar with Nilsson’s work, and found the documentary to be both informative and a bit of a music history lesson. Ultimately, Director John Scheinfeld took all of the elements of a good documentary and combined them into a cohesive bit of filmmaking; most will find Harry Nilsson a somewhat elusive character, but his story should capture your attention and keep you engaged.

    Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? will be shown at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar in Austin on November 15. For other select showings around the United States, visit Lorber Films at http://www.lorberfilms.com/who-is-harry-nilsson/who-is-harry-nilsson/.

    Rating: 7/10

    Topics: Film Reviews, News | 3 Comments »

    • Pingback: Tweets that mention Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? | Reveiw | Smells Like Screen Spirit -- Topsy.com()

    • http://jaibhakti.blogspot.com Bhakti

      Hey–you wanted a comment? :)
      I am 41 years old. I started playing the drums when I was 5 and the guitar when I was 7. I also play the mandolin, keyboards/synth, bass, doumbek…oh–and the triangle (really!)(joking–no triangle). The REASON I mention all of this is because when I was 3 years old my Mom bought an album…she played it all of the time: Nilson Schmilson. That album changed my life. I became a musician–or, rather, realized that I was one–because of Harry Nilson. To this day, Nilson Schmilson is a desert island disc. I have the original vinyl, but listen to the gold remastered CD version.
      I photographed Ron Sexsmith for Guitar World Acoustic (before becoming disabled) and he credits Nilson with his love of music and songwriting. In fact, Ron Sexsmith was SO into Nilson that he, Ron, refused to smile for the photographs because he said that Harry Nilson refused to smile for them. haha.
      Nilson was a genius–unfortunately, and apparently, an egotistical drunkard genius who withered away his talents and money and life. But he deserves recognition, IMHO, and I thank you for reviewing this documentary.

    • http://jaibhakti.blogspot.com Bhakti

      it’s after midnite here…I just realized–in my half-asleep-state–that I spelled Nilsson with one ‘s’ about 6,000 times in my last post. Pardom me. :x