“Neil Young Journeys” – 87 minutes. Rated PG. Opening exclusively at Landmark Midtown.
As he rumbles through his old hometown in a 1956 Crown Victoria, Neil Young states, with typical coolness, “That’s why you don’t have to worry when you lose friends because they are still in your head and in your heart.”
It would be a throwaway comment in many other documentaries, but in “Neil Young Journeys,” the third collaboration between the hall of fame musician and director Jonathan Demme, it speaks to Young’s personality.
The film, like most music documentaries, is meant as a treat for fans rather than a vehicle to convert those who couldn’t care less about Young’s upbringing.
It’s a simple premise – Young cruises around Omemee in north Ontario, pointing out his boyhood haunts while on the way to a solo concert at Toronto’s Massey Hall. Chronology isn’t a priority here, as chunks of the show fill in the blanks between Young’s tour guide duties.
The sound is impeccable as Young travels through his catalog. Many songs, such as “Hitchhiker” and the lengthy “Love and War,” come from his 2010 release, “Le Noise,” though there are plenty of nods to the past: “Ohio,” accompanied by footage of the Kent State protests and the names of those killed; “After the Gold Rush,” with its lovely piano flourishes; and “My My, Hey Hey.”
But the gift Demme has bestowed this time is giving fans a glimpse into Young’s roots.
“I think I killed a turtle there” as a kid, Young randomly shared, pointing out the window at a building.
The twosome chug by Scott Young Public School, named after Young’s father, as well as now-abandoned stretches of land that used to boast houses and buildings.
Demme also uses his adroit behind-the-scenes skills to provide unique camera angles, including one lengthy close-up that eventually finds the lens fogged by Young’s breath and slicked with spit.
You can’t ask for more intimate than that.