Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Dass

Worshipful documentary about rocker turned guru Krishna Das will basically appeal to the already—and very, very happily so—converted.

May 8, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1376688-One-Track-Heart_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

The deeply resonant chanting of Krishna Das (aka KD, aka Jeffrey Kagel) provides the most compelling part of Jeremy Frindel’s documentary about a rocker turned guru. The sincerity and rhythmic savvy of the artist are undeniable and obviously many agree, for he is able to fill huge spaces with devoted followers, most of them white and middle-class—if not much, much better off—who ecstatically sway in time and freely join in with the spiritual euphoria.

Greatly abetted by music producer wiz Rick Rubin, recordings of Krishna Das’ music have also been highly popular, with other music stars like Sting hopping on his transcendental bandwagon. Rubin is interviewed along with a squad of other bearded, graying Jews who have embraced Hinduism, many of them, like Frindel, seeking an alternative lifestyle to the frenzy of show business.

KD was a self-described “neurotic kid from Long Island” with a tendency towards moroseness, so musically talented that he was offered a spot with the group that would become Blue Oyster Cult. But he walked away from this opportunity, and that was the defining moment of his life before he encountered Maharaji (Neem Karoli Baba), a Himalayan saint he went to India to find. The great spiritual awakening began, but he was utterly devastated when Maharaji died (“I never thought I would be happy again”) and descended into the depths of an addiction to free-base cocaine. One more Indian guide eventually shook him out of this funk, and he began performing in yoga studios; that eventually burgeoned into the phenomenon he is today.

One Track Heart is pretty much a sermon to the choir, and one wishes Frindel—also co-founder, with his wife, of the Brooklyn Yoga School—had offered even a rudimentary overview of Hinduism and its basic tenets for the unenlightened laymen in the audience. The film is unabashedly worshipful of KD, as are all the interviewees, who include such eminences as Rubin, Ram Dass, authors Daniel Goleman, Dr. Larry Brilliant and Sharon Salzberg, disabled musician Jason Becker, and Sharon Gannon and David Life (co-founders of ultra-trendy Jivamukti Yoga, which provided KD’s first performing space.)

“I just sit my miserable body in front of the harmonium and squeeze and moan,” says KD, modestly. It’s undoubtedly helpful that he’s also saturninely handsome, as his constituents continually express awe at his charismatic power over people. When one chants, he says, “the outer edges of who we think we are dissolve and just for a moment we touch that place of truth where there’s only one of us in the universe. Even when I think I am a wave, I am just part of the ocean.”

These words are what his devotees revel in, but more skeptical viewers may wish for something more in the way of explanation here, and wonder about the scary power of gurus whose death can utterly destroy their followers’ lives. Isn’t some contingency plan ever preached, along with all the endorphin-charged day-to-present-day guidance? Also, when KD’s manager, Nina Rao, a performer herself, says she ”feared the worst” on first seeing him in t-shirt and sweat pants, followed by his drummer wearing jeans and “looking like he came from a Pennsylvania construction site,” you might think, “Isn’t being non-judgmental supposed to be the basis of this religion?” The thought may also occur to you that the whole subject is ripe for Christopher Guest.


Film Review: One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Dass

Worshipful documentary about rocker turned guru Krishna Das will basically appeal to the already—and very, very happily so—converted.

May 8, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1376688-One-Track-Heart_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

The deeply resonant chanting of Krishna Das (aka KD, aka Jeffrey Kagel) provides the most compelling part of Jeremy Frindel’s documentary about a rocker turned guru. The sincerity and rhythmic savvy of the artist are undeniable and obviously many agree, for he is able to fill huge spaces with devoted followers, most of them white and middle-class—if not much, much better off—who ecstatically sway in time and freely join in with the spiritual euphoria.

Greatly abetted by music producer wiz Rick Rubin, recordings of Krishna Das’ music have also been highly popular, with other music stars like Sting hopping on his transcendental bandwagon. Rubin is interviewed along with a squad of other bearded, graying Jews who have embraced Hinduism, many of them, like Frindel, seeking an alternative lifestyle to the frenzy of show business.

KD was a self-described “neurotic kid from Long Island” with a tendency towards moroseness, so musically talented that he was offered a spot with the group that would become Blue Oyster Cult. But he walked away from this opportunity, and that was the defining moment of his life before he encountered Maharaji (Neem Karoli Baba), a Himalayan saint he went to India to find. The great spiritual awakening began, but he was utterly devastated when Maharaji died (“I never thought I would be happy again”) and descended into the depths of an addiction to free-base cocaine. One more Indian guide eventually shook him out of this funk, and he began performing in yoga studios; that eventually burgeoned into the phenomenon he is today.

One Track Heart is pretty much a sermon to the choir, and one wishes Frindel—also co-founder, with his wife, of the Brooklyn Yoga School—had offered even a rudimentary overview of Hinduism and its basic tenets for the unenlightened laymen in the audience. The film is unabashedly worshipful of KD, as are all the interviewees, who include such eminences as Rubin, Ram Dass, authors Daniel Goleman, Dr. Larry Brilliant and Sharon Salzberg, disabled musician Jason Becker, and Sharon Gannon and David Life (co-founders of ultra-trendy Jivamukti Yoga, which provided KD’s first performing space.)

“I just sit my miserable body in front of the harmonium and squeeze and moan,” says KD, modestly. It’s undoubtedly helpful that he’s also saturninely handsome, as his constituents continually express awe at his charismatic power over people. When one chants, he says, “the outer edges of who we think we are dissolve and just for a moment we touch that place of truth where there’s only one of us in the universe. Even when I think I am a wave, I am just part of the ocean.”

These words are what his devotees revel in, but more skeptical viewers may wish for something more in the way of explanation here, and wonder about the scary power of gurus whose death can utterly destroy their followers’ lives. Isn’t some contingency plan ever preached, along with all the endorphin-charged day-to-present-day guidance? Also, when KD’s manager, Nina Rao, a performer herself, says she ”feared the worst” on first seeing him in t-shirt and sweat pants, followed by his drummer wearing jeans and “looking like he came from a Pennsylvania construction site,” you might think, “Isn’t being non-judgmental supposed to be the basis of this religion?” The thought may also occur to you that the whole subject is ripe for Christopher Guest.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Locke
Film Review: Locke

Taut, disturbing and unique drama about a man racing toward his destiny, providing Tom Hardy, literally, with a vehicle to flaunt his acting chops. More »

Small Time
Film Review: Small Time

You might not buy a used car from the guys in Small Time, but you will enjoy the movie about their exploits, even their exploitations (of others). More »

Fading Gigolo
Film Review: Fading Gigolo

Some top screen talent gets lost in the silliness surrounding the amorous adventures of an unlikely gigolo and his even more unlikely pimp, with writer/director/actor John Turturro the shtupper “ho” co-starring with Woody Allen as the mercenary shtup-enabler. Yarmulkes off to Turturro’s brave but deeply ill-conceived comedic foray into Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidic community and other alien territory. More »

A Promise
Film Review: A Promise

Handsomely filmed but wan period romance. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Transcendence
Film Review: Transcendence

Johnny Depp is an idealistic researcher whose consciousness is uploaded into an artificial intelligence in this slick techno-thriller with delusions of seriousness from Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. More »

Draft Day
Film Review: Draft Day

Pro football manager faces crises on the most important day of his career in a well-tooled vehicle for Kevin Costner. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here