PATTI SMITH: DREAM OF LIFE (Steven Sebring). See listings. Rating: NNNN
Though it gets off to a rocky start - a cringe-inducing shot of horses running free - Steven Sebring's documentary quickly finds its rhythm, uncovering the many sides of the usually very guarded punk poet and rocker Patti Smith.
Shot mostly in 16mm black-and-white, which gives it a grainy stock-footage quality, Dream Of Life moves back and forth in time in sometimes disorienting ways, but it works organically to give a full picture of the gifted icon.
She was friends with the last four decades' most influential artists. Play "spot the culture hero" when you catch a glimpse of William Burroughs, Sam Shepard, Michael Stipe, Thom Yorke and others, none of whom Sebring bothers to identify.
The performances, seen in snippets, are spectacular, especially her reading of the poem Howl at Allen Ginsberg's memorial. But the private moments - Smith in her bedroom, Smith tousling her young son's hair, Smith holding hands while sitting on the couch with her dad - are just as compelling.
This isn't just for hardcore fans. If you aren't an admirer when you go into the screening, you will definitely be one when you come out.