Acclaimed record producer (U2, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Peter Gabriel) and musician Daniel Lanois successfully enters the world of film with this music doc. Here, Lanois examines what he knows best: producing music. Shot on a Panasonic mini-DV cam, Here Is What Is is lushly edited with colour, slow-mo and black-and-white sequences. The movie is stylish, not shallow, and intelligent but not pretentious.
Lanois Socratic chats with mentor Brian Eno anchor the film and provide a needed thread to an otherwise meandering structure. Eno comes across as a thinker, stating that art arises out of nothing, from "shit. Meanwhile, Lanois waxes about the technical and philosophical aspects of music production. One intriguing sequence captures him mixing in the studio.
Of course, there is music, lots of good music captured at Lanois Toronto loft, Morocco and Shreveport, Louisiana. No, Dylans not here (Bob declined) but Emmylou Harris, Sinead OConnor, Garth Hudson, Willie Nelson and Aaron Neville appear. However, I wish they were interviewed instead of only singing, in particular country queen Harris, whos collaborated with Gram Parsons and Dylan. (We need a film about her!) The U2 jam in Morocco does stand out, as does Brady Blades gospel performance of "This May Be The Last Time inside a Baptist Church in Shreveport.
Financed by Lanois, Here Is What Is avoids the "clip job approach of the typical rock doc by borrowing techniques from experimental films rather than rock videos. True, this is not groundbreaking cinema but Here Is What Is is smartly done and accessible to audiences beyond Lanois fan base. (422190 Ontario)