Monday, January 15, 2007

Movie Review: Joni Mitchell, Painting With Words And Music

A note to all the wispy-voiced chanteuses with their acoustic guitars and songs about eggs: stop yodeling and start paying attention. You give a lot of lip service to Joni Mitchell being an influence, but other than being a woman, what’s the connection?

Watching Painting With Words And Music, it becomes glaringly apparent that the chasm between MTV-generation pretenders-to-the-throne and Joni Mitchell is wide. Joni Mitchell’s rich lyrics and well-crafted pop songs represent ultimate musicianship. Yet, Mitchell never seems to take herself too seriously, even with the deepest poetry and heaviest subjects. She is always having fun. Expressing herself is a total joy.

Featuring fourteen Joni Mitchell favorites including Woodstock, Big Yellow Taxi, Hejira, and Crazy Cries Of Love, Painting With Words And Music is pure Joni Mitchell. Backed by a band that includes drummer Brian Blade, bassist (and Joni’s ex) Larry Klein, multi-instrumentalist Greg Leisz and special guest trumpeteer Mark Isham, Joni Mitchell gives a spirited performance of the best of her best.

Shot on an intimate Warner Bros. soundstage, Joni Mitchell doesn’t wow with pyrotechnics or giant video monitors broadcasting news feeds from around the world. The bare set and comfortable audience were designed by Joni Mitchell herself to accentuate the simple elegance of the music. The lobby was dressed as a gallery for Mitchell’s impressionistic painting. Painting With Words And Music paints a portrait of Mitchell’s life and work.

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