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Clarence Clemons: Who Do I Think I Am? (2019)Clarence Clemons: Who Do I Think I Am? (2019)

Who was Clarence Clemons (1942–2011), and who did he think he was?  Most people remember him as the gifted saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band. He was known as "The Big Man" for his gargantuan size, long dreadlocks, charismatic personality, and joy for life ("order the good wine"). He also did a stint as an actor in both film and television, and wrote an autobiography. But this film tries to dig deeper with its suggestive title, albeit with limited success. "Who am I beyond these things, on the inside," he asks, "what is my purpose in life?" Thirty years on the road can make you feel lost and lonely, not to mention reflective.  In addition to the family, friends, and fellow musicians who remember Clemons, in much of this black and white film he tells his own story. He describes himself as deeply spiritual but not religious in the organizational sense of that word: "I am a seeker, that's who I am." And so, for example, he made a sort of pilgrimage to China that he says changed his life. That much is clear, but what does all that mean beyond his cliches about love and joy?  There's little nitty-gritty here, like any mention at all of his five marriages and four children. It's also strange that although he was one of the three producers of the film, it was only released eight years after his death. You get the feeling that this legendary artist deserved a much better film. I watched this movie on Netflix.

Dan Clendenin:

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