In contrast to 2006's amber-lit, prayerful Neil Young: Heart of Gold, a stately acoustic set at Nashville's tradition-rich Ryman Auditorium, Trunk Show, the second in Jonathan Demme's planned trilogy of Young-in-concert movies, is a slapdash job—endearingly so. The stage dressing looks, well, like backstage. Young, in a paint-spackled button-up, resembles an aging action painter, and scrambles around like one. Demme rolls together two sets from 2007's Chrome Dreams II tour, shot outside Philadelphia, into an 83-minute package. About 20 of those go to Young and looongtime bandmates beating the hell out of "No Hidden Path" until the tenacious comeback riff finally gives up the ghost. The set juggles between acoustic and electric, with Young taking breaks at piano ("A Man Needs a Maid") and banjo ("Mellow My Mind"). Action is mostly covered with handheld cameras, usually in close-up while Young's on the mike, making the most gruesome delivery faces outside of MLB pitchers and porn actors. Removing even stage banter, the focus is entirely on performance, save for a few "candid backstage" bits—Young getting a cracked nail filed down, etc. Devotees will thrill to rarities like "Kansas" and "Mexico." The unconverted will go see The Bounty Hunter instead—and have significantly worse lives.
Young is endearingly ragged.
Runs at Varsity, Fri., March 19–Thurs., March 25. Not rated. 83 minutes.