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Author Topic: Love & Mercy biopic reassessed  (Read 4783 times)
GoogaMooga
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« on: April 15, 2018, 09:18:07 AM »

Yes, there was an old thread, but it stops in 2016, so here , as an afterthought, is my Johnny-come-lately take on the film:

Finally watched the DVD of the Brian Wilson biopic, "Love & Mercy". Now, I am biased, being a rabid Beach Boys fan. But even if I try to be objective, I am absolutely certain that this is the finest musical biopic I have ever seen, and I have seen a few! The film requires at least some knowledge of BB history, as it flits effortlessly between mainly two periods, the creative peak in 66 and 67, and the romance with Melinda Ledbetter in the 80s. A romance that led to their getting married, and Brian being freed from the clutches of his legal guardian, the sinister Dr. Eugene Landy. It doesn't matter that the two leads don't look much like young Brian and middle-aged Brian; Dano and ESPECIALLY Cusack have the Brian persona down to a tee, every twitch, every gesture, even the goshdarn t-shirts he wore in the 1960s, they got it ALL right. We go through the mental breakdown of Brian Wilson, his 24 hour treatment by Dr. Landy, right up to his return to life and his new-found love, and eventually, his freedom. As the end credits roll on, we see the real Brian on stage, singing "Love & Mercy", as part of the historic "SMiLE" gig at Royal Festival Hall in 2004 (I was there!). During these end credits, I was moved to tears, but they were tears of joy.

Question: Did he really hear voices since 1963? The nervous breakdown on the plane was in 1964, and by his own account, the drugs started that year, too.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2018, 01:08:16 PM by GoogaMooga » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2018, 09:54:58 AM »

I am absolutely certain that this is the finest musical biopic I have ever seen, and I have seen a few! The film requires at least some knowledge of BB history, as it flits effortlessly between mainly two periods, the creative peak in 66 and 67, and the romance with Melinda Ledbetter in the 80s. A romance that led to their getting married, and Brian being freed from the clutches of his legal guardian, the sinister Dr. Eugene Landy. It doesn't matter that the two leads don't look much like young Brian and middle-aged Brian; Dano and ESPECIALLY Cusack have the Brian persona down to a tee, every twitch, every gesture, even the goshdarn t-shirts he wore in the 1960s, they got it ALL right.

My sentiments entirely, GM. It doesn't get much better than this! The musical score is amazing too.
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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2018, 10:16:47 AM »



My sentiments entirely, GM. It doesn't get much better than this! The musical score is amazing too.

The last song over the end credits, after L&M, seems "new" to me. Was it an exclusive recorded for the OST? Do you know the title?
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« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2018, 10:28:21 AM »

'One Kind of Love'. You can find it on Brian's 2015 album No Pier Pressure.

I'd say the best music biopic is either Love & Mercy or Ray.
I absolutely love love this movie. As a hardcore Brian Wilson/Beach Boys fan I have a hard time turning off my historical inaccuracy detector, but there are only a small few and they don't matter in the grand scheme of things.
It's funny you brought it up, I just watched L&M last night again and this morning I posted in the Albums, Books and Videos request thread for L&M to be included in the videos section so we could review it.
It is still so stunning to me how much they got not only right but right on the money about Brian's experiences. Plus seeing a few things from Melinda's perspective was a great idea. That scene where Landy is screaming at Melinda from the other side of her office door, calling her terrible things is a highlight. Wow, that really happened?
Dano and Cusack crush it as Brian. It occurred to me last night while I was watching one of the '80s scenes how Cusack really felt like a middle aged Dano in many ways to me. Just the way they both approach inhabiting the part. If that makes sense.

I love this movie and my sincere hope is that its popularity with casual fans and people who never really listened to Brian's deeper recordings like Pet Sounds and SMiLE will check them out after hearing pieces of it in the movie. If you want to really know Brian, the best way to do that is to listen to his music, with an open heart. Listen, listen, listen.

I'm so happy this movie came along to tell Brian's story to the masses.
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« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2018, 10:47:16 AM »

'One Kind of Love'. You can find it on Brian's 2015 album No Pier Pressure.

Thanks. My later BB purchases are not filed properly. It's the proverbial needle in a haystack, so I don't know them as well.
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« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2018, 11:48:34 AM »

I am not a fan of this movie - the Cusack parts are well done but the 60s parts are written poorly, acted poorly, and are filled with errors of fact and tone.  I kept thinking how corny and overwrought most of the scenes were.

I don't mind that most people like it and I'm glad it brought Brian's story to many new people unfamiliar with it, but one viewing was more than enough for me.
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« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2018, 12:28:23 PM »

I am not a fan of this movie - the Cusack parts are well done but the 60s parts are written poorly, acted poorly, and are filled with errors of fact and tone.  I kept thinking how corny and overwrought most of the scenes were.

I don't mind that most people like it and I'm glad it brought Brian's story to many new people unfamiliar with it, but one viewing was more than enough for me.

I agree only insofar as Cusack's performance is the stronger of the two. The '60s were a haze, not only to the people involved, but also to the people who had to convey it on film, if they were even around then. Obviously the '80s would be much more accurate. I think what the '60s scenes had going for them was a certain dynamic, the studio work, the acid trip, etc., but key players were glossed over. It was as if they were ticking boxes based on the books. I think they got the look right, and the mood, and even the insecurity and sensitivity of the young Brian. The "Beard Movie" did a better job with the Brian-Dennis indulgences, and Murry was more fleshed out in the mini series, but neither production can compare with this biopic, IMO. I really can't think of a better music biopic than this one.
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MyDrKnowsItKeepsMeCalm
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« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2018, 02:19:42 PM »

I saw this in the theater when it came out, and was blown away. Loved it. Took along my friend, a non-BB fan who went in knowing nothing, and he enjoyed it too.

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« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2018, 03:31:22 PM »

I loved it too, but Amadeus is a better film for me.
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« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2018, 08:52:01 PM »

The only rock biopic anyone needs to see is Walk Hard.
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« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2018, 05:49:56 AM »

The only rock biopic anyone needs to see is Walk Hard.

Walk Hard is one of the best comedies of the millennium IMO.   

As for music biopics, I'm not sure if I have a favorite.   Love and Mercy was very good.   For all of it's flaws, I think Oliver Stone's The Doors is also very good. 
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« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2018, 07:19:55 AM »

I am not a fan of this movie - the Cusack parts are well done but the 60s parts are written poorly, acted poorly, and are filled with errors of fact and tone.  I kept thinking how corny and overwrought most of the scenes were.

In what way was the tone off? More importantly, what are you using as a baseline for comparison?

I'd say the 60s stuff with Dano was the better portrayal of both character, look, and tone compared to the 80s stuff. I think Cusack did fine, but he didn't seem to attempt to look or sound much like Brian.

But this film was a small miracle. I don't think there were any severe lapses in facts. A small amount of conflation took place for the sake of brevity. But just about every BB fan I've run into who *doesn't* like the film (a small group to be sure)  doesn't get that this is a *film* first and foremost, not Beach Boys fan service. If you want the dry facts (which you already know anyway, right?), there are docs and books for that. This is a film, and considering the other stuff on the market in terms of BB and other bands/artists ("An American Family", "Summer Dreams", "Dead Man's Curve", "Birth of the Beatles", "Backbeat", "John and Yoko: A Love Story", etc.), "Love & Mercy" was, again, a small miracle and actual true *art.*

Not saying anybody is going into such minutiae, but anyone who is annoyed because Hal Blaine's sideburns are a half inch too short are missing the entire point of the film. 
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« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2018, 07:28:57 AM »

The only rock biopic anyone needs to see is Walk Hard.

Walk Hard is one of the best comedies of the millennium IMO.   

As for music biopics, I'm not sure if I have a favorite.   Love and Mercy was very good.   For all of it's flaws, I think Oliver Stone's The Doors is also very good. 

The Walk Hard psychedelic sequences are actually a better representation of Brian and the Smile period than Love & Mercy!!

where was the tone off?  Brian came off as way more insecure and unsure of himself than he was, as demonstrated by the session tapes.  I only saw it once but Dano's hesitant unsure and halting performance did not represent the "confident" Brian which he was most of the time during PS and even Smile, until the very end. I remember one scene where he is outside the studio looking bewildered and downbeat and one of the Wrecking Crew (Hal)? tells him how what he's doing is great and somehow that suddenly validates everything for him.  Corny and not accurate.
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« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2018, 07:32:26 AM »

The only rock biopic anyone needs to see is Walk Hard.

Walk Hard is one of the best comedies of the millennium IMO.   

As for music biopics, I'm not sure if I have a favorite.   Love and Mercy was very good.   For all of it's flaws, I think Oliver Stone's The Doors is also very good. 

The Walk Hard psychedelic sequences are actually a better representation of Brian and the Smile period than Love & Mercy!!

where was the tone off?  Brian came off as way more insecure and unsure of himself than he was, as demonstrated by the session tapes.  I only saw it once but Dano's hesitant unsure and halting performance did not represent the "confident" Brian which he was most of the time during PS and even Smile, until the very end. I remember one scene where he is outside the studio looking bewildered and downbeat and one of the Wrecking Crew (Hal)? tells him how what he's doing is great and somehow that suddenly validates everything for him.  Corny and not accurate.

googamooga was the one who mentioned the tone of L&M.   I actually preferred the 60s scenes to the 80s scenes.   I found the inaccuracies to be quite minor, and actually quite necessary to move the story along. 
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« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2018, 08:04:55 AM »

The only rock biopic anyone needs to see is Walk Hard.

Walk Hard is one of the best comedies of the millennium IMO.   

As for music biopics, I'm not sure if I have a favorite.   Love and Mercy was very good.   For all of it's flaws, I think Oliver Stone's The Doors is also very good. 

The Walk Hard psychedelic sequences are actually a better representation of Brian and the Smile period than Love & Mercy!!

where was the tone off?  Brian came off as way more insecure and unsure of himself than he was, as demonstrated by the session tapes.  I only saw it once but Dano's hesitant unsure and halting performance did not represent the "confident" Brian which he was most of the time during PS and even Smile, until the very end. I remember one scene where he is outside the studio looking bewildered and downbeat and one of the Wrecking Crew (Hal)? tells him how what he's doing is great and somehow that suddenly validates everything for him.  Corny and not accurate.

Brian "in the studio" in 1966 may have been relatively (if not quite) different from Brian outside the studio. You can't use session tapes and examples of Brian on the talkback as examples of how you think he would have interacted in real life.

Unrelentingly confident is not really a term I would use to characterize Brian at *any time* (and I'm not saying anybody used that precise term). It was never that simple. He obviously had a stretch where he was most confident in the studio and in his musical realm. But the mixed reaction to his music from everyone, from the band to the label and so on, most definitely shook the confidence.

I have no idea if he literally had a conversation with Hal Blaine or something looking for in-the-moment positive reinforcement for what he was doing. But seriously, how would you expect the often mundane, clipped, spoken-in-shorthand studio back-and-forth conversations to be translated into a movie narrative?

The studio musicians thought Brian was a talented guy, and by apparent accounts were kind enough to relate that to Brian. That it may have happened in a more mundane way or setting rather than a one-on-one heart-to-heart outside the studio door is kind of beside the point as far as a movie is concerned.

Again, if you want documentary material, you *have* the session tapes. NOBODY wants a movie filled with session tape transcripts. NO film can exist by using solely documented, verbatim transcripts of known conversations. That is, unless you simply want an on-screen reenactment of what's already on session tapes and interview tapes.

No question, a VAST, LENGTHY documentary on the scale of "The Beatles Anthology" needs to be made about the band. "Love & Mercy" is an entirely different thing, and again, as FILM, is very successful.
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« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2018, 08:08:29 AM »

Inside the studio, Brian was confident and sefl-assured, but not so much outside that environment. I think Paul Dano portrayed that very well. Mark me down as another one who prefers the 1960s part of this film to the Cusack sections. I think Cusack did well with the general portrayal, but I wish they would have done a little work to make him look like Brian. That was my only complaint. Atticus Ross did wonderful job creating a soundscape to portray Brian's mind.  
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Rick5150
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« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2018, 10:44:48 AM »

NOBODY wants a movie filled with session tape transcripts.

Unless the session tape transcripts state: "Hey Chuck! Is it possible we can bring a horse in here...?"
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« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2018, 12:49:32 PM »

Without exception I have seen, heard and read members of what is now known as ‘The Wrecking Crew’ praise the work Brian did in the studio. Having the Hal character say as much, either real or not, portrayed that sentiment and yes, “moved the story along”. I’m fine with it as I was other scenes not entirely accurate.
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« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2018, 03:21:51 PM »

Inside the studio, Brian was confident and sefl-assured, but not so much outside that environment. I think Paul Dano portrayed that very well. Mark me down as another one who prefers the 1960s part of this film to the Cusack sections. I think Cusack did well with the general portrayal, but I wish they would have done a little work to make him look like Brian. That was my only complaint. Atticus Ross did wonderful job creating a soundscape to portray Brian's mind.  

Well I disagree, so there!  Brian was not unsure with the Vosse Posse, Van Dyke, journalists he trusted, or his other friends.  He didn't always take to strangers or new people right away but more often than not he would invite them into the house and get them on his "trip."  Brian has always had fears and insecurities mainly regarding women and some paranoia about his father and Spector but not about his music.  Now at some point with Smile he decided the music wasn't commercial and put it aside, but that scenario still doesn't gibe with Dano's portrayal.  Where are the speed induced, rapid fire all night sessions where Brian is coming up with ideas for new forms of radio, humor albums and sound effects albums, producing other artists, music films, his own record company, stores that stay open all night - this is the confident firing on all cylinders Brian that is not represented in the film, and is how he was MOST of the time!
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« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2018, 03:35:52 PM »

Inside the studio, Brian was confident and sefl-assured, but not so much outside that environment. I think Paul Dano portrayed that very well. Mark me down as another one who prefers the 1960s part of this film to the Cusack sections. I think Cusack did well with the general portrayal, but I wish they would have done a little work to make him look like Brian. That was my only complaint. Atticus Ross did wonderful job creating a soundscape to portray Brian's mind.  

Well I disagree, so there!  Brian was not unsure with the Vosse Posse, Van Dyke, journalists he trusted, or his other friends.  He didn't always take to strangers or new people right away but more often than not he would invite them into the house and get them on his "trip."  Brian has always had fears and insecurities mainly regarding women and some paranoia about his father and Spector but not about his music.  Now at some point with Smile he decided the music wasn't commercial and put it aside, but that scenario still doesn't gibe with Dano's portrayal.  Where are the speed induced, rapid fire all night sessions where Brian is coming up with ideas for new forms of radio, humor albums and sound effects albums, producing other artists, music films, his own record company, stores that stay open all night - this is the confident firing on all cylinders Brian that is not represented in the film, and is how he was MOST of the time!

True. Some poetic license there, to move the story along. It would have made the film longer, confused audiences, and made him less of a victim of circumstance. If he were portrayed as a powerhouse back then, it would have been more difficult for the audience to believe his mental breakdown.
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« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2018, 05:12:47 PM »

I'd say the 60s stuff with Dano was the better portrayal of both character, look, and tone compared to the 80s stuff. I think Cusack did fine, but he didn't seem to attempt to look or sound much like Brian.

I think John Cusack very wisely didn't try too hard to look or sound like Brian. Had he done so, it would have distracted from the performance-- as, IMO, Dano's effort to mimic young Brian's every expression and facial tick distracted me from his performance. Not only did Dano not resemble Brian to me, I kept thinking of the Monkees TV show. I think he tried way to hard to portray Brian exactly. I didn't care for Dano's performance at all.
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« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2018, 05:56:58 PM »

Where are the speed induced, rapid fire all night sessions where Brian is coming up with ideas for new forms of radio, humor albums and sound effects albums, producing other artists, music films, his own record company, stores that stay open all night - this is the confident firing on all cylinders Brian that is not represented in the film, and is how he was MOST of the time!
It would be fantastic if film displayed the scenes you describe. But, I did like the 60s Dano Brian the best. It annoyed just little bit that his speaking & singing voice didn't contain the same fragility & sweetness that Brian's got. Totally different voices, not single similarity.
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« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2018, 06:22:11 AM »

Inside the studio, Brian was confident and sefl-assured, but not so much outside that environment. I think Paul Dano portrayed that very well. Mark me down as another one who prefers the 1960s part of this film to the Cusack sections. I think Cusack did well with the general portrayal, but I wish they would have done a little work to make him look like Brian. That was my only complaint. Atticus Ross did wonderful job creating a soundscape to portray Brian's mind.  

Well I disagree, so there!  ...

That's fine.
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« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2018, 06:32:08 AM »

Seems people either prefer Dano's '60s Brian or Cusack's '80s Brian. I can totally understand picking either one over the other. I like them both equally. Love & Mercy wouldn't be the great movie it is without either of them.
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« Reply #24 on: April 17, 2018, 11:23:59 AM »

Why is this thread now titled "/"?
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