I'm not much of a Bruce Springsteen fan. Or to put it another way, it's just music I could never get into, but I do respect the following. I know some of the band people more from their other activities; guitarist Steven van Zandt's turn in The Sopranos and saxophonist Clarence Clemons in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure come to mind. And when watching the documentary on the latter titled Who do I think I Am?, I had forgotten that he had passed until I started watching.
Nick Mead directs the film, which includes interviews from various places like the E Street Bandmates of Clemons (Nils Lofgren), stagemates with Clemons in other areas (like Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh), notable admirers of Clemons' acumen (former President Bill Clinton), and longtime friends, family and business associates of Clemons through the years. Interspersed amongst the footage are close shots of Clemons as he talks about himself, though those segments are fleeting. The interview subjects recount the life, inspirations and motivations of Clemons through different times of his life, and painfully recall his 2011 passing, and his legacy today.
After seeing Who do I think I Am? I'm not completely sure if I have a firm enough grasp on the type of person that Clarence Clemons was, but I certainly understand how he got along with so many people. He seemed like a funny person who at times felt unsatisfied by some of the things he did, so finding a more spiritual sense of himself (like going to China) was something that within what people thought of him, could be seen as understandable, and the film manages to handle this well.
The film does tend to strike a balance between focusing on Clarence Clemons, rather than the big black dude who played sax for Springsteen pretty well. However, the other side of that coin is that the absence of Springsteen from any participation in the film save for an ending card with a quote from him, seems to come as a little glaring. There is understandable loss felt by those interviewed about Clemons who were close to him, but at times portions of Who do I think I Am? is something where Clemons asks the question (he actually does early in the film) and isn't sure of the answer, to say nothing of the list of people who share their thoughts and impressions of him. You could make the case for a lot of humans walking around Earth, but not many of them have a 90-minute film devoted to the subject.
Who do I think I Am? is in an unfortunate area; it will probably serve as the best reflection on the life and work of Clarence Clemons, but often times comes across as a collection of people who also seem to have better understandings of him than most yet still seem a little on the outside of his life and passions. You'd have to know a guy to get an idea of his essence, and I thought at times during the film that many of these people didn't.The Blu-ray
An MPEG-4 transfer befits Who do I Think I Am? and things look fine. The film uses a variety of sources including taped interviews, home video footage (Clemons in China is pretty cool), vintage film and video and concert footage, and all looks OK. There are moments of inherent noise in the image but nothing added into image processing, so things are natural as you'd expect. No haloing or artifacts in the image that weren't already there, and the contemporary stuff has no issues.The Sound:
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround which is fine for these purposes. The crowd/concert stuff sounds good, audience noise is immersive enough, the recorded stuff sounds clean but doesn't possess too broad a soundstage. Interviews sound clear and well-balanced in the soundstage with little compensation, and the home video material also comes across well. Good material, not great.Extras:
Just the film. There's a standard definition disc here as well but that's it.Final Thoughts:
Maybe my disappointment in Who do I Think I Am? is also inherent within the E Street Band. There must be something I'm missing regarding Clarence Clemons, or Bruce, or Max Weinberg, what have you. But for me, like the band, if everyone else thinks that he's special, I'm not going to disagree, but the film probably wasn't the best option to explain this to people. Technically the disc is satsifactory despite the lack of extras, and for fans of the band, you're going to want to see this if you haven't already.