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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind (review)

Joni Mitchell is “a true poet,” says New York Times music critic Stephen Holden, and this lovely documentary is a beautifully poetic exploration of her unconventional life and uncommon career. Narrated by Mitchell friends and fellow musicians including David Crosby and Graham Nash, her former agent David Geffen, and Mitchell herself, this evocative montage of home movies, family photos, archival footage, and contemporary interviews traces her childhood in Saskatchewan, her bursting onto music scene in Greenwich Village and Southern California in the 60s, her retreat to the Canadian backwoods in the 70s, and the mass praise that was suddenly heaped upon her in the 90s. Scored by her own aching, pensive music –“Both Sides Now,” “Chelsea Morning,” “Circle Game,” and more of her beloved songs — this is like a melancholy painting in motion. Fans of Mitchell and the folk revolution will appreciate rare performance footage, like that from the 1969 Big Sur Festival and clips from The Dick Cavett Show (all of which transfer well to DVD) as well as several British concert appearances from the early 70s never before broadcast in the U.S. Bonuses include extra song performances not included on the original documentary, which first aired as part of the PBS series American Masters.

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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