Too often glibly dismissed as a purveyor of gloom, Leonard Cohen stands as an éminence grise among songwriters, his recorded legacy as notable for the imposing literary certitude of his lyrics as their technically limited, characteristically expressive baritonal delivery. At various times poet, consort of beautiful women and Zen monk, his biog’s intriguing too, all of which makes this doc highly welcome, even if it’s at best a partial view.That’s partly due to its patchwork construction, which intercuts musical numbers (and gushing accolades) from an all-star tribute show in Sydney with Cohen’s own pithy recollections, before the old boy wheezes through a climactic number with a reverent U2. Although the performers are variable – Rufus Wainwright brings out the best in the songs, his sister Martha does not, while Jarvis Cocker and Nick Cave man the roster creditably – they certainly sell Cohen’s catalogue to neophytes. Probably just as well though, given the puzzling absence of clips of the man in his prime.
Friday November 24 2006