Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man Lian Lunson

I’m Your Man is half concert film and half homage to the genius of Leonard Cohen, though only one half is worth keeping. Largely concerned with a tribute concert staged by Hal Willner in Sydney, it collects a rag-tag group of admirers (Nick Cave, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, etc.) to render the master’s songs in a variety of formats.

The music is a grab bag, as expected: if Cave is surprisingly fuzzy and Rufus Wainwright only intermittently interesting on "Chelsea Hotel 2,” Beth Orton is at her at characteristically low-key best and genius androgyny Antony knocks it out of the park with a potently ethereal rendition of "If It Had to Be Your Will.” The music portion squeaks by but it has to compete with interview fragments by the poet himself and gushy praise from various members of U2, and the film buckles under the pretension.

This will be manna to Cohenheads but anyone else will be waiting for the music to return, and I was never enough of a worshipper to get hot and bothered over his false modesty. To be honest, I’ve always had my suspicions about Cohen, who’s often seemed like little more than a cheesy undergraduate on the make, but I understand why he strikes such a strong chord in a certain kind of person, meaning that I’m happy to hear actual vocalists render his words instead of his own breathy self.

And the Wainwrights do get it back for a lovely version of "Hallelujah,” though the spell is broken when U2 back Cohen for a useless version of "Tower of Song.” Fans will love it and the odd unbeliever might be surprised. (Maple)