As disappointing as I found Todd Haynes’ confusing Dylan tribute, I’m Not There (and, at the time of Thursday’s premiere, trust me, I really wish I wasn’t), today I was offered an olive branch by the musical arm of the Toronto Film Festival with the exemplary and exciting documentary Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who (coincidentally produced by Nigel Sinclair, who also chipped in on Martin Scorsese’s terrific Dylan picture No Direction Home). For fans of the band who think Jeff Stein’s 1979 The Kids Are Alright is a rock-doc masterpiece that couldn’t possibly be improved upon, take care knowing that the producers of this film feel the same way. They’ve unearthed mounds of never-seen footage — retreading only lightly on clips used by Stein — including more recent video provided by fans (some of it illicitly taken at shows, something a proper camera crew could never really do at, say, the Hollywood Bowl).
Journey takes us from the end of WWII (when the band members were born) through the drug-induced deaths of drummer Keith Moon (at age 32 in 1978) and bassist John Entwistle (at age 57 in 2002) up until 2006. The movie wrapped to house applause, a clear high point for the fatigued festival crowd. Had I not lost my last $80 exiting the theater (baggy pockets, I guess), I’d have called the experience perfect. Near perfect, in this case, will have to do. Now I just need to figure out how I’m going to pay for my cab fare to the airport.