Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)?
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Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)? is a wildly entertaining, star-studded documentary that tells the story of one of the most talented and versatile singer-songwriters in pop music history and the man The Beatles dubbed their favorite American musician. The Grammy® Award-winners Everybody s Talkin and Without You ... the quirky Coconut ( Put de lime in de coconut... )... the whimsical Me And My Arrow, and the poignant One ( ...is the loneliest number )... these recordings are all the work of Harry Nilsson. The documentary, which Ain t It Cool News said, is everything a great documentary needs to be, reveals his spirited relationship with John Lennon and close bond with Ringo Starr, as well as Harry the legendary bad boy party animal who was at the same time a devoted husband and father. Director John Scheinfeld brings added emotion and intimacy to the story with over 50 Nilsson recordings, rare or never-before-seen film clips, home movies and personal photos. To this are added compelling interviews with top music and movie personalities who knew Harry well. They include Micky Dolenz, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Al Kooper, Randy Newman, Yoko Ono, Van Dyke Parks, The Smothers Brothers, Jimmy Webb, Paul Williams, Robin Williams, Brian Wilson and many others. As film critic Leonard Maltin noted, Who Is Harry Nilsson? is a vivid portrait of a gifted man...what a great reminder of his talent. The DVD also contains 93 minutes of Bonus Material Deleted Scenes, Extended Sequences, an Alternate Ending and more.
If you see one rock doc this year, make it HARRY NILSSON... Close to genius, in fact. --Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly
A lively documentary... exposure to the film should cause audiences to make room on their iPods for some serious downloading. --The Hollywood Reporter
Entertaining, informative and incredibly emotional. --Aint It Cool News
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Top Customer Reviews
I am simply blown away by this documentary. I'd been waiting to see it for four years, and I was convinced that because I had such high expectations, that it would disappoint. I am thrilled to say that the film not only met my expectations, but actually exceeded them.
This film is a brutally honest look at the man, Harry Nilsson. It shows how beautifully talented he was, and how everyone around him truly loved him, but it did not shy away from the wild antics that were ultimately Harry's downfall. One interviewee made the statement, "Harry was like a big bunny rabbit with really sharp teeth." I think that the film shows just how appropriate that statement is.
There were times that I laughed out loud and times that I came close to openly sobbing. I have a feeling that if I had not been at a public viewing, I would have been openly sobbing.
The director mentioned that this final version has a different ending than what he originally screened several years ago. I have not seen that first ending, but I can say that if Harry was able to comment on the version I saw, that he would approve. It was funny, sad, and poignant, all rolled into one. I don't think Harry would have wanted it any other way.
This is a vivid portrait of a very complex man. There was the raw talent and potential, the self-destructive behavior, the loving father and husband, the alcoholic, the activist. All of these were Harry Nilsson. Even someone who didn't know of Harry before this film would be moved.
NOTE ADDED ON 10/17/10: I want to try to write quality reviews that are helpful to people. If you find my review to be unhelpful, please leave a comment and let me know how I could improve! Or, even better, if you did find my review helpful, I'd love to hear from you! Thanks.
NOTE ADDED ON 11/17/10:
It was suggested that I add a note about the special features, so here you go:
There is a great extended scene concerning Without You, and another extra that features Remember. There are many more extras that are incredible, and they're pretty much all extended scenes. I'll list their titles for you:
Loneliness - This is a music video that Harry did with Yoko Ono. I believe this is Yoko's song.
A Little Touch
Remember (which is the original ending. The final cut is far superior, I believe, to this original ending).
Pretty darn good for someone who almost never did concert appearences or toured (he did do some one off appearences at Beatlefest, etc.)
Harry had a turbulent life. His father left his family when Harry was small creating a major gap in his life and the self destructive behavior had been mirrored by both his parents previously.
This terrific documentary covers the lost years as well--the period of time when drugs and drink took their toll on Harry's long lost weekend with John Lennon. It also addresses the damage to Nilsson's voice, in discussing his childhood how his feeling of abandonment impacted him as both a person and artist and features rare home movie footage, footage from his TV appearences and interviews with those who knew him best.
The DVD features deleted footage and interviews giving even more insight into Harry as an artist and musician. I was glad to see Stephen King highlight this powerful and sometimes heartbreaking documentary in his Entertainment Weekly column from a couple of weeks ago. Maybe with this DVD and King's promotional efforts for the film Harry will get just "a touch" of the recognition that he had when he was alive and in his prime. Recommended.
As for the subject himself- what a truly compelling character! Even if you are only nominally familiar with Nilsson and his music, this movie is pretty much guaranteed to make you a fan.