MEAT LOAF: IN SEARCH OF PARADISE (2007) – Documentary Retroview

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At age 59, legendary rocker Meat Loaf launched a worldwide tour to promote his new album, Bat Out Of Hell III, with new stagings of some of his most popular songs. This is the first time the iconic star had given a film crew access to his grueling artistic process.

In Meat Loaf: In Search of Paradise, director Bruce David Klein presents a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Meat, a performance perfectionist, sweating bullets over his show, often revising details at the last minute, to the consternation of his dedicated crew. At the same time, Meat’s innate need for privacy keeps his enigmatic aura intact.

The film is a great backgrounder on the enigmatic and charismatic rock icon, with Intimate behind-the-scenes glimpses of Meat Loaf preparing to tour, an interesting reveal of Meat Loaf’s angst about media’s review of the ‘make out’ number, and excellent footage of several iterations of live performances of Meat Loaf’s greatest hits.  This great rock doc is one of the best.

You don’t have to be a devoted fan to love this doc portraying Meat as a sympathetic, irascible, troubled and enigmatic soul. Meat Loaf’s physicality, emotion and talent are larger than life. This film certainly captures his stature in full measure.

A MEASURE OF MEAT’S GREATNESS

You’d have to acknowledge that Meat Loaf is a most unlikely rock ‘n’ roll hero. He’s a huge sweaty bear of a man who flashes a signature red scarf as his main performance prop and belts Jim Steinman’s brilliant and stunningly dramatic songs with operatic grandeur and Wagnerian gusto. But he’s one of the greatest rock stars ever–a true legend.

Meat Loaf: In Search of Paradise shows how Meat’s give-it-everything-you’ve-got performances are laced with emotional angst and physical exhaustion. We see Meat’s pre-show energy-boosting ritual of downing a concoction of Red Bull, protein powders and tequila, and his post-performance histrionics–fainting or falling to the floor and writhing in agony, or kicking the furniture and throwing props and a tantrum when he’s dissatisfied with the show.

Meat’s offstage behavior is as dramatic as his performances, which he revises constantly–usually at the last minute–to keep it fresh, challenging and alive.

The first performances are in Canada, where critics find the campy romantic duet between Meat and 20-something singer Aspen Miller to be ‘creepy’ and offensive.  Meat and Aspen, taken aback by the comments, rework the number so its stagey silliness is unmistakable. It’s fascinating how they brainstorm to overcome this issue. Meat dons a long wig and frill-fronted tux shirt like that he wore when he debuted the song years ago.

The mix of archival and current concert footage gives you great perspective on the scope of Meat’s career and influence. He’s a fabulously legendary performer.

To his great credit, Klein captures moments when Meat is unaware of the camera–like when he’s just awakened. These rare glimpses are highlights, but the entire film will fascinate and entertain you.

FILM DETAILS:

TITLE: Meat Loaf: In Search of Paradise

DIRECTOR: Bruce David Klein

WRITER: Bruce David Klein (Documentary)

RELEASE DATE: July 18, 2008 (Netherlands)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

LANGUAGE: English

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

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