Director: Christopher Wilcha
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Marcus Mumford, T-Bone Burnett, Joan Baez, Jack White, The Avett Brothers and Rhiannon Giddens
Running Time: 101 minutes
Release Date: May 23rd
Forget Inside Llewyn Davis, watch this instead.
The whole original soundtrack phenomenon began with Wim Wender’s “Until The End Of The World” in 1991. But it really took off with the Coen brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou in 2000. That film’s soundtrack was so successful they made a film of the concert that followed, with Down from the Mountain in 2000.
Both Until The End of The World and O Brother, Where Art Thou could be comfortably summed up with, forget the film, get the soundtrack. And when the Coens came back with Inside Llewyn Davis last year, it looked as if we were on similar terrain. But as it turned out, the soundtrack to that film was every bit as insipid as the film it came from. So Another Day, Another Time, the film of the concert which that produced, is a very pleasant surprise.
Not so much a documentary as a filmed concert – which will annoy some – this is very much in the same spirit as Jonathan Demme’s ground-breaking film of Talking Heads’ 1984 tour Stop Making Sense.
The gig that Another Day, Another Time records is presided over by the serene figure of T-Bone Burnett, a sort of louche Tom Wolfe, who glides around the rehearsal stage in a white suit, gently prodding and making suggestions to the assorted musicians he’s managed to gather there. And what a collection it is.
There are the The Avett brothers, The Punch Brothers, the king and queen of alt country, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, Jack White, Patti Smith and Joan Baez. As that list would suggest, Baez aside, this was less about the early 60s folk music scene, and more of a celebration of the new Roots Americana movement that the former spawned.
And don’t be put off by the presence of one of the Mumfords. He’s given relatively little to do here. And in any case, the whole show is stolen by the Milk Carton Kids, who somehow manage to out-harmony the Everly Brothers. Or at least, you think it is. Until Rhiannon Giddens appears on stage, as a modern day Odetta. She performs a reel in flawless Scott’s Gaelic that defies belief and demands to be seen (you can see her perform it here in Glasgow. Yes, she’s that confident.).
This is not a documentary in the conventional sense. So unlike say, the brilliant Muscle Shoals from last year, you’re not going to learn anything about how it is that so many diverse musicians have ended up converging around the same pursuit of the raw, undiluted core of American music. Its authentic heart. What it is instead is a chance to see and hear some of America’s finest musicians as they delve into their musical past. And the performances that that pursuit produces.