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Ain't In It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm [Blu-ray]

98 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Director Jacob Hatley's intimate documentary finds rock and roll legend Levon Helm (The Band) at home in Woodstock, NY, in the midst of creating his first studio album in 25 years. Shot during the course of two-plus years, this highly anticipated film focuses in on the four-time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member after his 2007 comeback album, Dirt Farmer, brought him back to the spotlight.

Product Details

  • Actors: Levon Helm, Billy Bob Thornton
  • Directors: Jacob Hatley
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Blu-ray, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: October 8, 2013
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00E51KKNC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,624 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Bob B on July 30, 2013
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Levon Helm lived a life in music, one that unfortunately ended too soon last year when he was 71 years old. But what a life! His career traced the entire arc of the rock and roll era, from his early years seeing Elvis, Sonny Boy and Bill Monroe as a kid in Arkansas, to his years on the road as a member of Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks, then leader of Levon And The Hawks, which became Dylan's first road band. Then The Hawks became The Band, the most respected band of the golden age of rock.

He played a decent guitar and a distinctive mandolin, but that voice! Levon was the voice of the American heartland, an iconic, craggy, lusty voice whether singing, acting and narrating, or just telling stories. And, oh yes, he was one the the very best drummers in the world. But his post-Band career, while artistically rich, left him ultimately broke, and in the late nineties cancer took his voice.

To pay the rent and medical bills, and just to play, he began hosting Midnight Rambles at his home in Woodstock, where he had a studio in his beautiful barn. Playing for a couple hundred people on Saturday nights, Levon came all the way back to the top, and along the way his voice came back. Sort of.

This beautiful and powerful documentary, filmed with Levon's full cooperation around 2008, finds him at home with his family and friends, learning of his nomination for a Grammy for his new album (he would win it, along with two more), laughing and telling stories with his friends and bandmates, and playing with some of the best musicians on the planet both in his barn and on tour.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Jimmy on August 28, 2013
Format: DVD
Nobody, however skilled, can make a decent documentary about an individual, band or indeed event, if the subject matter doesn't create a fascinating story. However in the case of Levon Helm this was surely the director's least concern - indeed it would be difficult to make a bad film about this fascinating musical maverick. But in the hands of the previously unknown Jacob Hatley - clearly a man destined for big things - the incredible story of Levon and his music is treated with finesse, skill and feeling to create possibly the best music documentary to emerge this year.

There are now 3 classic documentaries available that tell the story of The Band or members thereof and which all fans of this American institution should be sure are in pride of place in their collections.

The Last Waltz (Special Edition)
Dylan, Bob - Down In The Flood
Ain't In It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By James J. Crisan on September 3, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
This documentary accomplishes something rare in a biographical story: it is uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time. Watching Levon simultaneously struggle with illness while continuing to live and love life and create and perform beautiful music is powerfully inspiring. Listening to the stories about the dark side of his history with The Band was heartbreaking, and the filmmaker gives us a nuanced look at how Levon deals with his legacy with pride, but also with some bitterness about the music business. In his unguarded moments, we can see that Levon is still heartbroken over the loss of Richard Manuel and Rick Danko, and the interview sequences with Rick's widow are a brilliant juxtaposition that meshes Levon's story with the demise of The Band and the era in which they breathed rarefied air. I thank the filmmaker for this heartwarming portrait, and I treasure this intimate record of a slice of the life - and tragic death - of a man and musician I have always admired and respected.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By PBfriend on August 13, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
Great. No other words. I was priviledged to attend a few rambles before Levon left us. This documentary is a great reminder of what was lost and how it should continue!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Al B. Tross on November 2, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
There's no sugarcoating the fact that this film is partly an exercise in watching a dying man in his last "good" days. If you're someone who admired and valued, or loved this man that's pretty rough.
I loved the Band's music and think Levon was a fabulous drummer and superb singer. To the extent that one hopes to get to really know the person one knows only through a media filter, this film delivers a pretty straight ahead portrait of a man who was pretty straight ahead. The sense that what you saw was what he was is pretty much confirmed here.
Its a sobering unblinking look at illness, dying, perseverance and a man in some ways trying to come to terms with the vagaries of existence.
At one time the Band was one of the most popular Rock & Roll groups in the country, and imo certainly the best white band this country (or Canada) ever produced. They must have made untold millions.
Here we come upon Levon whose medical expenses have driven him to the brink of home foreclosure, (if it can happen to him, who's safe?) and one can't help but wonder how the hell that happened?
Well it apparently is all in the song publishing rights and Robbie Robertson got most of those. Levon is justifiably bitter.
This is not how I'd choose to remember Levon Helm as a sick, suffering albeit game, septuagenarian, but I'm glad to have had the opportunity to see how things were towards the end.
As a documentary I'd have to give it high marks.
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Ain't In It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm [Blu-ray]
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