Directed by: Jacob Hatley
Starring: Levon Helm, Amy Helm, Larry Campbell, Billy Bob Thornton, Libby Titus Fagen
Jacob Hatley ‘s documentary Ain’t in It for My Health is first and foremost for fans of Levon Helm — the drummer, singer, songwriter and rock ‘n’ roll legend. It was filmed over a period of two years, during the time of his “comeback” album, Dirt Farmer. Though the film does include archival footage, it’s mostly a fairly loose, generous chance for fans to vicariously hang out with the cancer-stricken musician. It’s very much a loving portrait of the artist as an aging and ailing man. You do get bits and pieces of standard documentary approach, mostly through interviews, but Helm himself seems less interested in the past than the present (despite his continual resentment over former bandmate Robbie Robertson ditching The Band, while accepting the accolades for it). As a result, the film is mostly about the new album, life on Helm’s Woodstock farm with family, friends and neighbors, and the constant struggles with his failing health. It’s a warm, engaging film that doesn’t outstay its welcome at 82 minutes, but it will mean far more to the faithful than the casual viewer.
The Fine Arts Theatre will screen Ain’t in It for My Health Thursday, June 27, at 7 p.m.
In Brief: Admirably tight documentary about drummer, singer, songwriter and rock legend Levon Helm. Shot in 2008, the film is more content to concentrate on the present than to load itself down with clips from the past. As a film for the faithful, it tends to assume, probably correctly, that the viewer needs only the basics of background information.