The subtitle says it all: A Film About Levon Helm. Not the film; Jacob Hatley’s doc makes no claim to being the definitive portrait of a workhorse musician best known as the drummer-singer of the Band. But what this series of vignettes and snapshots of the late Helm shows is just as valuable, and twice as moving, as a mere rehash of accomplishments. You get to witness his medical treatments for throat problems, see him start up his famous Midnight Rambles, watch him flesh out a half-written Hank Williams tune and bask in the most generous, joyous smile in rock history. But mostly, you see a prolific artist going out playing—an unsentimental, salt-of-the-earth tribute that keeps the beat in a way that would make this extraordinary journeyman beam.
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