A confessional, cautionary and occasionally humorous tale of Robbie Robertson’s young life and the creation of one of the most enduring groups in the history of popular music, The Band. Produced by Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer .Note this documentary’s subtitle: Robbie Robertson and the Band. The name of this portrait of the legendary rock group — Once Were Brothers — comes from a cut off a 2019 Robertson solo album; the phrase exemplifies, in the singer-songwriter’s words, how he felt about the four other men who stood beside him on hundreds of stages, in dozens of studios and within one extremely famous pink house’s basement. It’s the second part, however, that’s more revealing…especially that telltale “and.” Director Daniel Roher starts by diving into Robertson’s personal musical journey before turning the film’s attention to the former Ronnie Hawkins/Bob Dylan backing band-turned-Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, expanding the spotlight to encompass the quintet as a whole.
You wish there was more vintage performance footage, given how the concert album Rock of Ages proves that circa ’71, these guys were a beast live. Tthe Last Waltz itself gets the royal treatment, as well it should, but the years leading up to that all-star goodbye are described in brief as “it was a beautiful thing…it went up in flames.”