Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review: Stevie Nicks: In Your Dreams - Montreal Gazette

Film about Stevie Nicks is less a documentary, more a love-in

In Your Dreams
Two and a half stars out of five
Starring: Stevie Nicks, Dave Stewart
Directed by Stevie Nicks and Dave Stewart
Running time: 100 minutes
Parental guidance: language

Playing at: 
Cinéma du Parc, Friday to Monday (June 14-17)
Get Tickets in Advance

MONTREAL — The Fleetwood Mac concert scheduled for Tuesday at the Bell Centre has been cancelled. So, about the only way local fans will now be able to catch Mac member Stevie Nicks, the raspy, enigmatic, Grammy Award-winning singer, is through the magic of celluloid: the documentary In Your Dreams: Stevie Nicks, opening Friday and running only until Monday at Cinéma du Parc.

But Mac fans be warned: this doc doesn’t focus on the fab foursome, but rather on the collaboration between Nicks and former Eurythmics frontman Dave Stewart in the production of Nicks’s solo disc In Your Dreams — released to mostly glowing reviews two years ago.

Nicks and Stewart are also credited as co-directors and co-executive producers of this film. Which means that they let viewers in on the pop-music world they wish them to see, and not necessarily the warts-and-all pop-music world that an outside director might have depicted.

As such, the doc begins with gushing testimony from a gaggle of Nicks fans who declare, among other things, that she is one of the greatest voices of our times. No doubt. Certainly, her distinctive vocal stylings helped elevate such Mac tunes as Gypsy, Landslide and Rhiannon to iconic status. And certainly several cuts on In Your Dreams will probably stand the test of time, too.

Point is, Nicks’s vocals speak for themselves. There is no need for gratuitous aggrandizement and grandstanding here.

But it seems that Nicks adores herself as much as her fans do. Which means that those not as intensely fanatic about Nicks could have difficulty with aspects of this documentary love-in.

This same group of observers could also have difficulty with a level of Nicks’s pomposity, particularly when it comes to her comparing herself to Bob Dylan as a writer. She also has the gall to inform management at the hotel in Italy where she is staying that the poem she penned while there and is presenting them will have immeasurable cultural value down the road.

Nicks has much to be proud of without having to hammer us over the head about her ability as a singer and songwriter. At 65, she remains a vital force and can compose and croon with the best of them. Probably because she is one of the very few women of her epoch still cranking it out, she feels compelled to blow her own horn — particularly when it is the senior Jaggers and McCartneys of the pop world who seem to get most of the press for their ability to endure and to continue to pack the big rooms.

Maybe there is an element of truth when Nicks proclaims at the beginning of the doc that she and Stewart have decided to “defy” the recording industry, to bring out a disc, “from our tribe to yours,” that will remind people of the grand old ways of the business — evidently a more pure and noble period in the last century when those in the biz were all saints.

But this rant really starts to veer off the deep end. This is the kind of poppycock rock talk that could induce projectile hurling among the squeamish.

Sure, between Nicks’s solo and group efforts with Fleetwood Mac in that period, more than 140 million albums were sold. But lest we forget: those hazy, crazy years were fairly turbulent for Nicks, who had to overcome major drug-dependency issues and who, rumour had it, had been associated with witchcraft.

Stewart, for his part, talks of the obvious pairing between him and Nicks. They have both recovered from relationships, romantic and musical. In his case, it was his Eurythmics mate Annie Lennox. In her case, it was Lindsey Buckingham, with whom she split romantically but with whom she still works both on the solo and Fleetwood Mac fronts.

Stewart rhapsodizes how he stumbled into this “labyrinth cave” that is Stevie Nicks. It’s actually quite the palatial estate “somewhere in Southern California” — as pointed out in the film. Evidently, Stewart has been into filming stuff ever since finding a gold chain on the street and exchanging it for a video camera at an Australian pawnshop.

So when Nicks gave Stewart some of her poetic musings, it was decided they transform them to music and that he capture it all on film.

Nicks takes a back seat to no one. The camera picks up occasional sniping when a producer has the temerity to tell her a lyric isn’t working for him. “Would you tell Bob Dylan what to write?” she asks, almost incredulously.

Nicks also makes it abundantly clear that Edgar Allan Poe is a big influence. In fact, she brings an adaptation of Poe’s 1839 poem Annabel Lee (about eternal love beyond the grave) — which she wrote when she was 17 — out of the vault to bring to musical life in In Your Dreams. Her hope is that it will turn kids on to the mystical poetry of Poe. Nice thought, even though it comes off as a tad too pretentious.

On the other hand, credit Nicks for coming to the aid of wounded U.S. soldiers and contributing to Hurricane Katrina relief. She does have heart.

What this doc doesn’t and should reveal is what drove her from the beginning. All we really learn in one small tidbit is that her grandfather, a struggling country singer, played a role in her musical life.


Anonymous said...

It's amusing that Bill Brownstein refers to Lindsey as some anonymous hired-hand ("The camera picks up occasional sniping when a producer has the temerity to tell her a lyric isn’t working for him.")

Monty Britton said...

I am a huge Nicks fan from the '70s. And I feel that this portrait of her will make me dislike her.
I am not fond of her reminding us how great she is. Boring!! I want to see her work with Fritz, early Buckingham Nicks and how she felt about being baggage carried over with Lindsey to join Fleetwood Mac. I am starting to dislike her and call that b-word that I hate to call a lady. Which I use to believe Stevie was until the drugs made her act like Courtney Love on stage (a lady would not simulate falatio on a guy on stage).
I would love to see the real Stevie Nicks and not some fragment of her own imagination. Maybe its time to put your boots in the closet Stevie.
Love from one of your biggest fans....

Louise Damstoft-Hathaway said...

The show from OWN (Oprah's network) Masters series did a great job of telling her life story, I think. It was REAL. In her own words, basically and the most like a Documentary that I've seen. Being a female musician from that era, tho I don't condone it, I can understand why she would want to 'toot her own horn' so to speak. We were always shoved to the side by our male counter parts, at least for me, and tho we were somewhat appreciated, we were not allowed to 'shine too much' and take away from the men. I can't tell you how many times I was told to "just shake the tambourine on this song, sing some harmonies and stand over there and look pretty". So I feel like, in her own way, she is trying to say "Hey, Women in this Industry are just as important as Men". And Women who age gracefully tend to recognize their own accomplishments in their 'later' years and instead of standing in the 'shadows', want to shout it from the Rooftops "Hey ~ World ~ I MATTER!" And we each do that in our own way. ;)

Anonymous said...

Stevie is the rare jewel in the crowd, the Rock Aristocracy, that has indeed aged gracefully and can still be the big audience draw that she is. I really cannot think of any female artist from her era that can still tour like she and Fleetwood Mac can do. She has earned the right to blow her horn as loud as she likes. Not to be completely superficial~ but it has to be said... She is a lot nicer to look at than most make musicians her age. Time has not been their friend.

Anonymous said...

It's time for Miss Nicks to let IYD rest. No one can say she didn't try....
over time the sales will climb.
Stevie needs to go back to the piano and come up with her own words and melodies. This is her strong point....being Stevie. She doesn't need to write with anyone. When it's from her heart and uniquely her...we'll all love it.

Anonymous said...

I have been a Stevie fan from the beginning, but here lately, she really has been tooting her own horn, it's getting to the point where she likes hearing the sound of her own voice too often, is she afraid she'll be forgot about...she has been seen/spotted at so many Hollywood etc. functions.
Step away from the carpet Stevie, get back to your music...give the fans some new so yesterday!

Anonymous said...

I have just seen the documentary on Netflix. It made me aware of her record and I bought it. I strongly recommend it (all songs are good). Somehow, she did not go on my radar screen before, but she just did and I am a fan now. She is highly creative (a genius), doing lyrics, music and vocal art.

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