The Band’s Levon Helm says he had decades of fame but little fortune.
AIN’T IN IT FOR MY HEALTH: A FILM ABOUT LEVON HELM (Jacob Hatley). 83 minutes. Opens Friday (June 7). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNNN
Ain't In It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm was completed in 2010, two years before the death of the man who was arguably the Band's most valuable player.
Jacob Hatley's documentary records the 70-year-old musician's personal chaos, professional disarray and failing health - which he faced with the same genial orneriness that defined him in his youth. Shot during the recording sessions for the Electric Dirt album, it now stands as a valedictory for Helm, who - as he tells it - endured decades of fame with very little fortune.
Famous friends like Billy Bob Thornton and the Black Crowes' Chris Robinson drop in, and Rick Danko's widow Elizabeth Danko offers some insight into the Band's tumultuous chemistry in an interview. Whatever bad blood existed between Helm and Bandmate Robbie Robertson is still potent enough to keep Robertson out of the picture.
But Hatley's not out to stoke old grudges. He's just accompanying his subject on the last leg of the journey, as Helm makes music, holds bullshit sessions with friends and endures innumerable treatments for the throat cancer that would eventually kill him.
And somehow, Ain't In It For My Health leaves us certain Helm went out happy.