- A Mostly Great Rock Doc 7/3/2010 12:00:00 AM by crossbow0106
Just to get it out of the way, if you have zero interest in Rush, proceed with caution. I am a casual fan and thought this was great. The best thing is it explores the relationships between the band, from the beginning. Also, along with insightful commentary from various musicians, the guys tell their own story. Always maligned by critics, this is an exploration into why they are still so popular. Even better, all three guys, especially Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, are just good people. Neil Peart is a bit more difficult to warm up to, but you'll like him also by the end (actually, way before that). You get concert clips and the aforementioned commentary and what basically comes through is that these guys deserved every bit of fame that came their way. They are all superb musicians, actually all three amongst the best in rock. While Geddy Lee's singing voice takes a bit of getting used to (there is a funny part where various people quote critics on what they thought his voice sounded like), by the end you realize that its also part of what makes the band unique. That over 30 years on they can still sell out tours is amazing, and it really is about time they were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. The only reason I didn't give it a ten was that if you have little knowledge of the band you may feel its a bit much to go through the records one by one. However, as I am a casual fan only (to date, I have "Permanent Waves" and the two disc compilation "Chronicles" only), this documentary makes me want to go out and buy more Rush music. If that isn't an endorsement for this film, then there just isn't one. Congratulations on their well earned success and bravo to this career spanning, insightful and thoroughly entertaining documentary.
- Band-positive but comprehensive 6/11/2010 12:00:00 AM by hanfuzzy
This film does a good job of presenting and explaining what Rush is all about, and how the group has earned respect from fans, producers, DJs and other musicians (just not critics). Not quite hagiography, as it quotes some of the negative reviews and the band's own dissatisfaction with some of their albums or directions or even wardrobe choices.
Unlike the filmmakers' heavy metal survey films (Headbanger's Journey and Global Metal), in this film Dunn is never on screen and is only heard once or twice asking questions of interview subjects. The spotlight (or limelight) is clearly placed on the band - this is a straight-up documentary, without dwelling on a fan's relationship to a band or genre. As in previous films by this team, the interviews with a surprisingly wide variety of subjects provide much of the meat of this film, giving a broad perspective and keeping it from having too much of a narrow viewpoint. Of course at least half the interviews are with Rush members themselves. You get a real sense of the men behind the music, including their relationships to each other, family, other musicians, and fans.
A special aspect is some great earlier footage, even from family discussions while they were still in high school. There are also some powerful landscape shots while exploring Peart's response to deaths in his immediate family. And the examination of the song-writing process, including shots of original hand-written lyrics drafts, provides good value for viewers.
Overall, a well-made film that does justice to the topic. Not as poignant or story-arced as Anvil: the Story of Anvil, this film has a more successful subject and didn't need to become a real-life Spinal Tap to make a interesting watch.
- That's Entertainment 6/12/2010 12:00:00 AM by modesttaker
It is a very well directed and edited collection. Home movie footage of Alex and Geddy as kids all the way to interviews from the Snakes and Arrows tour put the bands personalities and philosophies to the forefront. Fans will feel like they know these guys. There is much humor with the occasional sobering aside. People who barely know Rush's music will probably get converted. There isn't a lot of technical discussion (equipment, technique). Most people who contribute commentary have worked with them in some capacity. "Celebrity" fans are mostly from the heavy metal camp. The Grace Under Pressure to Roll The Bones era is covered the least (which will make many happy). It was awesome! See it in a theater if given a chance.
- The greatest rock band of all time may NOT be the Beatles (!) 9/28/2010 12:00:00 AM by psc914
I only "discovered" RUSH 3 short months ago. Before seeing this documentary, I was aware of the few RUSH songs I'd heard on radio - but I would never have name checked them as a great rock band.
In the short time since then (a period during which I have picked up almost all their CDs), RUSH has displaced the Beatles as my favourite band of all time. I assure you that's no small feat - I remain one of the most avid Beatles fans you will ever encounter. This said, if you love the Beatles, you won't necessarily love RUSH - and unlike the almost universally appealing Beatles, RUSH's music seems to be a love it or hate it affair.
RUSH has many different styles and eras to their vast repertoire of songs, and their level of musicianship is without parallel. It's rarely "conventional" rock, but that's what makes it so interesting.
To date, Rush has 24 gold records, 14 of which are platinum (3 multi-platinum). That places them third behind The Beatles and The Rolling Stones for the most consecutive gold or platinum albums by any rock band. Amazingly, they've achieved that distinction with comparatively little radio support. This documentary provides insights into how word-of-mouth made that happen one fan at a time.
A key strength of this documentary is highlighting the significance of Neil Peart's lyrics as well as it does. I appreciate the written word, and never have I come across musicians whose artistry fuses music and lyrics so well.
This film (and RUSH's music generally) is highly recommended to anyone who appreciates intelligent lyrics, highly crafted musical artistry and exceptionally good music.
- "Don't be surprised when you discover how boring we really are" - Geddy Lee 7/9/2010 12:00:00 AM by pyrocitor
In general, documentaries, even those exploring the careers of high profile bands, are not renowned for being particularly fun or interesting to watch for those not already enraptured by the subject matter, providing interesting supplementary informational tidbits for established fans, but unlikely to draw in anyone else. Bearing this in mind, it takes a pretty exceptional music documentary to feel like a concert, cultural history lesson, lively standalone film and hangout session with the band in question all at once, yet directors Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen manage to pull off such a daunting task with Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage with exultant ease.
Canadian rockers Rush, despite copious success and a tenaciously loyal band of fans (several interviews have concert-goers amusing admitting to it being their one-hundredth Rush show), have always had difficulty courting mainstream critical or commercial success, the "superstar band never to be fully acknowledged as superstars", and Beyond the Lighted Stage delves into the interesting interplay between fanaticism and indifference, managing to shed light upon the mainstream's elusive distaste for the band (too quirky? too nerdy? too many long songs? not firmly mainstream or firmly progressive enough to be easily categorized? not "hummable" enough?) while also delving to the heart and essence of the band and illuminating why the appeal really should have caught on. Furthermore, the film is particularly credible as being the rare documentary to match up to its subject matter cinematically with uncommonly masterful structure and composition. Perfectly paced, Beyond the Lighted Stage swiftly doles out its tidbits of band biography and the cultural reaction to them as if exhilarating plot twists rather than drab, necessary context, lending the film as lively and propulsive a tone as any good Rush song, of which the soundtrack offers enough to prove a comprehensive musical history of the band in itself.
More importantly, through comprehensive interviews with the naturally giving musical trifecta as well as those associated with them (interviews with the mothers of all three rockers are adorable) or simply admirers (with particularly effective use of Gene Simmons - "I couldn't understand how a band so good would go back to their hotel rooms without taking up the chance to get laid... those crazy Canadians" - and Jack Black - "Just when you thought the bottle of rocket-sauce that is Rush had run out, they just keep pumping out the rocket-sauce"), the film offers a genuine human, emotional anchor behind the music. As told by wacky but wise bassist/singer Geddy Lee, deadpan twinkling guitarist Alex Lifeson and the less outgoing, perfectionist yet perpetually chuckling drummer Neil Peart, what could have been a banal slab of backstory instead surpasses anecdote to become a vivid, kinetic journey. From their inglorious origins (playing high school dances, being too young to play higher profile clubs), struggles with their own musical complexity and refusal to curb to ascribed expectations (when asked to write more songs "designed to be singles", they churned out twenty-one minute long rock odyssey "2112", inspired by the writings of Ayn Rand - subsequently a massive hit), the evolution of their musical form (with an amusing, retrospective debate about the overuse of synths between Lee and Lifeson) and the haunting tragedy of the loss of Peart's daughter and wife, the viewer genuinely feels as if they have risen, struggled and rejoiced alongside Rush, with the trio's "goofy", irreverent sense of humour maintaining the journey remains a consistently offbeat and enjoyable one.
Just as likely to pique the interest of those unfamiliar with Rush as placate the enthusiasm of die-hard fans, Beyond the Lighted Stage proves one of the most satisfyingly effective documentaries in years, as much an extended thesis for the relevance and appeal of Rush (who, at the time, had yet to even be inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame) as as comprehensive overview of their backstory. Whether a Rush fan or not, such a kinetic, energetic and vivacious piece of film-making should be considered near essential viewing, even for those who have yet to fly by night alongside the unmistakably unique rock band.