Watching: Two Great Music Docs

Jonathan Demme presents …

By The Watching Team

Dear Watchers,

We know your watching time is limited. And the amount of things available to watch … is not. Looking for a movie? Nearly any movie ever made? It’s probably streaming somewhere. That’s a lot of movies.

Below, we’re suggesting two of them, the latest of our weekly double-feature recommendations. We think the movies will pair well — with each other and with you.


Your weekly double feature: Demme unplugged

A still from the 2006 Jonathan Demme documentary “Neil Young: Heart of Gold.”Ken Regan/Paramount Classics, via Associated Press

‘Neil Young: Heart of Gold’ and ‘Storefront Hitchcock’

The Jonathan Demme-Talking Heads collaboration “Stop Making Sense” is rightly considered a high-water mark for the concert movie, a perfect fusion of David Byrne’s conceptual wizardry and Demme’s intuitive feel for framing the performance. As the director continued to make more concert films after “Stop Making Sense,” he carried certain ideas forward, like staying on the stage and resisting cutaways to the audience.


For his 2006 documentary “Neil Young: Heart of Gold,” now streaming on Hulu, Demme took his camera to the intimate space of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, where Young had recorded “Prairie Wind,” a death-haunted, acoustic-based album in the mode of his “Harvest Moon.” Half of the film is a complete unveiling of the new record, with Young joined onstage by his studio collaborators and special guests like Emmylou Harris and Spooner Oldham. But the real highlights are in the encore set, which offers soulful renditions of old favorites like “I Am a Child,” “Old Man” and “The Needle and the Damage Done.”

This minimalist approach also paid dividends for Demme’s superb 1998 concert film “Storefront Hitchcock,” which combines folk musicianship with storytelling reminiscent of Spaulding Gray’s in Demme’s “Swimming to Cambodia.” Shot at an abandoned used clothing store on 14th Street in New York City, the film places Robyn Hitchcock against the simple backdrop of a large store window, with cars and various passers-by moving through the frame. Hitchcock’s set draws heavily from his 1996 album, “Moss Elixir,” but it also sprinkles in plenty of tracks from his time with his former band, the Egyptians, too. And his monologues are an eccentric, sometimes surreal delight. SCOTT TOBIAS

Stream “Neil Young: Heart of Gold” on Hulu; rent it on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.

Rent “Storefront Hitchcock” on Amazon, Apple TV and Vudu.


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