Director: Daryl Hannah
One of the great paradoxes of our time – or all-time – is how Neil Young can make time seemingly stand still (in the best possible way) during his extended guitar workouts, yet give him a film-project and he makes time stand still in only the very worst way. Paradox is a Netflix-released “concept” folly filmed by Daryl Hannah (Young’s muse and partner) and starring Ole Neil and his current band The Promise of the Real.
It’s a sleep-walking goof-off “western” set in a very near future where prospectors are back on the land singing campfire ditties and robbing seed-banks. Young will tell you it’s all a metaphor for the music industry.
Hannah has said she’d like to direct “a real film” one day.
You’d run a mile from this of course. Unless you’re a Neil Young fan. Then you head right for the eye of the storm.
And what a fucking mess this is.
The music – the best part – is glorious. There’s a Dead Man-esque score from Young, there are some randomly interspersed moments from Desert Trip (aka “Oldchella”) including a lovely solo Pocahontas – and the band in full-jam mode on a lengthy instrumental-only stab at Cowgirl In The Sand. And at one point Lucas Nelson sings his dad’s Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground. Willie turns up in the movie too. He and Neil rob the seed bank.
It’s a series of disjointed pieces – thrown together in the three days while the band was rehearsing in the Rockys and adjusting to altitude sickness. You might argue that the adjustment was never fully made.
For this makes Journey Through The Past seem Oscar-worthy. But if you’ve waded through Human Highway – and you’re not worth your salt as a true Neil fan if you have not – then you’d almost be as disappointed to hear that Paradox made sense, or was any sort of real wonderful.
Instead it’s a head full of bees. And it’s maybe nearly glorious as a result. There’s a line about love being like a fart – if you push too hard it’s usually shit.
There are other lines that are nowhere near as good.
Gauzy and hazy and wooden and weird. It’s Neil doing what he wants. Yet again.
And I stayed up to wait for its debut. And maybe you did too. And it feels like passing a test just making it through the 73-minute run-time.
But long may he – and it – run. He earned the right to do whatever he wanted almost as soon as he left Buffalo Springfield, certainly since Harvest he’s been out on the weekends experimenting, doing whatever he fucking pleases. And you get the feeling that if this pleased absolutely no one it’d give Neil Young a reason to smile.
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