Saturday, September 11, 2010

Who is Harry Nilsson (and why is everyone talking about him)?

Many people know the songs (Without You, Everybody's Talking, Coconut, One, Me And My Arrow, etc...) but not everyone knows the name. Writer/Director John Scheinfeld remedies that with this new documentary.

Using rare, never seen before film clips as well as home movies and personal photos, Mr. Scheinfeld weaves an intimate portrait of the artist and the man. There are also dozens of interviews with friends, family and celebrities including Yoko Ono, Robin Williams, Brian Wilson, Eric Idle, Randy Newman, Jimmy Webb, the Smothers Brothers and many others.

The film starts with his early years growing up in Brooklyn, New York and moves through his career path showing us the highs and lows along the way. Mr. Nilsson reached his greatest success with "Nilsson Schmilsson", his most widely recognized album, produced by Richard Perry. There is some wonderful film footage of them in the studio as well as recollections by Mr. Perry of their years together. The Beatles had called Nilsson, their "favorite group" and the film has some great moments documenting his close relationship with both John Lennon and Ringo Starr.

After the success of "Nilsson Schmilsson", Mr. Nilsson's life began a terrible downward spiral and the film takes a honest look at the gifted artist on the road to self destruction. Mr. Scheinfeld balances the destructive "bad boy" with the loving family man and really answers the title question. It's a labor of love filled with great music and visuals that even a casual fan will enjoy.

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