Leonard Cohen Songs Key In Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Singers Of Mercy: How McCabe & Mrs Miller Changed The Western Soundtrack by Charlie Brigden (The Quietus: April 29th, 2018) is an insightful essay on Altman’s use of Leonard Cohen’s music in his landmark movie. An excerpt follows but the full article, available at the link, is recommended reading:

‘Sisters of Mercy’ introduces McCabe’s prostitutes and notably the male reactions, the gawping construction workers and McCabe’s own shyster approach to it all that comes to a head when Alma stabs one of the punters. Cohen’s music just lingers as it’s clear McCabe is in over his head, and it’s no coincidence that this immediately precedes the arrival of Mrs Miller. Mrs Miller’s theme is ‘Winter Lady’, and we first hear it echoed in her smoky yellow room, post-opium session, but it’s used beautifully when she stands outside in the falling snow, scared at the inevitable fate of her and McCabe, Cohen uttering “you chose your journey long before you came across this highway”.

More McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Other posts about Leonard Cohen’s music in McCabe & Mrs. Miller and video clips of Cohen’s music in that film at 

Leonard Cohen & Lian Lunson Share Special “My Mirrored Twin” Seats At The 2006 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening Of I’m Your Man Documentary

Leonard Cohen (the subject of the documentary) & Lian Lunson (the director) both showed up for the premiere of “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man” on Saturday June 24,  2006 at the John Ford Amphitheater in Hollywood. Lian describes what happened next:

This screening was the only public screening Leonard attended. It was a windy night at the Ford amphitheater and Leonard and i sat alone behind the screen with a bottle of wine. The audience could not see us. And, because we were watching the film from behind the screen the film was reversed. It was beautiful to see it that way.

Thanks to Lian Lunson for her charming account of this scene and for permission to use the photo atop this post.

“Urban Transport Planning” Episode Of The Americans Features Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me To The End Of Love

Typically, I hear about Leonard Cohen songs being used in TV shows or movies from fans. In this case, I discovered that Dance Me To The End Of Love was featured in the third episode of the sixth and final season of the FX network‘s highly rated, highly popular series, The Americans, from two online sites linking to Cohencentric posts dealing with concentration camps as the origin of that song.

The Americans Recap: The War at Home by Scott Tobias (Vulture: April 11, 2018):

The closing song is Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love,” played over scenes of Elizabeth strangling a security guard and Philip meeting with Oleg at the park. Cohen claimed the song was inspired by the Holocaust. Here it gives a sufficient impression of finality.

Can you come into the kitchen? The Americans would like a word by Erik Adams (AV/TV Club: April 11, 2018):

The Americans Soundtrack Report, Week Three: B. Elizabeth’s murder streak continues, but the show’s Talking Heads streak ends. As far as consolation prizes go, it’s tough to beat “Dance Me To The End Of Love,” a Leonard Cohen composition whose origin story is gloomy even by Leonard Cohen standards.

Credit Due Department: Image atop post Source, Fair use, Wikipedia

Billions “Patrick Bateman, Bud Fox Hybrid Wannabe” Episode Features Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker

Almost all the online recaps of the “Patrick Bateman, Bud Fox Hybrid Wannabe” episode of Showtime’s Billions note the inclusion of Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker. Excerpts from three such articles follow:

Bryan from the Bronx is surely not going to let his new knowledge about Chuck framing Axe go. With Dake firmly in denial, is this where they’ll involve that new ADA brought in during the premiere episode? Leonard Cohen’s “You Want It Darker” plays out the episode with the following lyrics: “If you are the dealer, I want out of the game.” We’re thinking Bryan wants out of the game.

Billions Season 3, Episode 3 Recap: “Patrick Bateman, Bud Fox Hybrid Wannabe” vy Molly Stout (Refinery 29: April 8, 2018)

As Ira is stealing his now fiancee’s heart all over again with the gorgeous engagement ring, courtesy of Mr. Robert Axelrod, Billions steals my heart all over again with this genius episode ending with a song by a true genius. Leonard Cohen’s “swan song” You Want it Darker sums it all up and gives you chills.

Billions on Showtime, Season 3 Episode 3: A Generation Too Late (Fan Fun with Damian Lewis April 9, 2018)

Leonard Cohen croons on the soundtrack as Axe cashes in and Ira slides his ill-gotten ring onto his fiancée’s eager finger. Funny and fast-paced though it is, “Billions” likes it quite dark indeed.

New York Times

Leonard Cohen Inspires Film: Death Of A Ladies’ Man

It is reported that Gabriel Byrne is to star in Death of a Ladies’ Man, a new drama that takes its title from the Leonard Cohen song and album of the same name, and which is inspired by the late music legend’s work. The Sunday Times reports that the film, an Irish-Canadian co-production, tells the story of a wayward Irish academic living in Canada who is diagnosed with a brain tumour as his second marriage is coming to an end. Returning to Ireland to finally write his novel, the professor falls in love again. Death of a Ladies’ Man is set to feature several of Cohen’s songs and he is said to have given his blessing to the film before his death in November 2016.

From He’s your man. Gabriel Byrne for Leonard Cohen-inspired film (RTE: Feb 25 2018). The entire article is available at the link.

Video: Leonard Cohen In The Movies – Recitation Of “What Am I Doing Here” In Dynamite Chicken

According to Wikipedia,

Dynamite Chicken is American comedy film from 1971, starring Richard Pryor. “A contemporary probe and commentary of the mores and maladies of our age… With shtick, bits, pieces, girls, some hamburger, a little hair, a lady, some fellas, some religious stuff, and a lot of other things” boasts the films opening titles. An American film from 1972 involving Richard Pryor, and partly funded by and featuring John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It is a collection of subversive comedy sketches and routines relating to the peace movement. Many famous figures appear as themselves in the film, including Joan Baez, Lenny Bruce, Leonard Cohen, Allen Ginsberg, Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Malcolm X (from archival footage), Andy Warhol, Al Capp, Muddy Waters, Sha Na Na, Al Goldstein and Yoko herself.


Leonard Cohen’s contribution to the movie is a one minute recitation of “What Am I Doing Here” from Flowers for Hitler accompanied by a black and white photo of Cohen.

Leonard Cohen and Allen Ginsberg in “Dynamite Chicken” 1971

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Someone You Love [En du elsker]: Danish Film Invokes Sense & Sound Of Leonard Cohen

Someone You Love [En du elsker], a 2014 film rendered in English and Danish with English subtitles, features a soundtrack, story, and character that bring to mind Leonard Cohen. The following excerpt from Someone You Love (En du elsker): Berlin Review by Jordan Mintzer (Hollywood Reporter: 2/11/2014) outlines the situation:

The shadow of Leonard Cohen looms large over Someone You Love (En du elsker), an endearing if somewhat conventional family drama from Danish writer-director Pernille Fischer Christensen (whose 2005 debut, A Soap, nabbed Berlin’s Silver Bear prize).

Featuring The Hobbit’s Mikael Persbrandt as an aging, very Cohen-like musician whose swooning guttural ballads cannot compensate for his lack of real affection, and promising newcomer Sofus Ronnov as the grandson who may finally change the rocker’s ways, this well-acted if predictable story should see theatrical engagements in Scandinavia and parts of Europe, with offshore VOD play and additional fest bids following a world premiere in the Berlinale Special Gala.

With his black coat and hat, slicked gray hair and gravelly performances backed by a chorus of female singers, 60-something Thomas Jacob (Persbrandt) is pretty much a dead-ringer for the Canadian singer-songwriter, save for the fact that he’s a Dane who’s been living in L.A. for decades and is finally returning back to his homeland.

Similar observations have been made by others; a few examples follow:

Someone You Love By Fionnuala Halligan (ScreenDaily: Feb 11, 2014)

Persbrandt’s character Thomas Jacob sings in English like an unhappy Leonard Cohen with a penchant for awkward lyrics including: “Whatever happened to the whispers?”

Someone You Love – 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival (Filmguide LA Filmfest: 2014)

After many years living in L.A., a world-famous, hard-living Danish singer-songwriter (think a Nordic Leonard Cohen) returns to his homeland to record an new album.

En du elsker by Lee Marshall (Filmmagasinet Ekko: April 23, 2014) [via Google Translate]:

The film is moving, but also more than a little conventional during the winter cold surface, especially in the drawing of Thomas’ persona (his voice, appearance and rock look is perhaps too strongly inspired by Leonard Cohen).

The following two songs from the movie’s soundtrack are clear parallels with Leonard Cohen’s own songs and style:

Mikael Persbrandt – Someone You Love

Mikael Persbrandt – Now I Ask You

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Video – Leonard Cohen In The Movies: “Suzanne” & “So Long, Marianne” in Fata Morgana

Fata Morgana (mirages) is an experimental film by Werner Herzog shot in the Sahara Desert.

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne & So Long, Marianne
Fata Morgana
Suzanne begins at 1:35
So Long, Marianne becomes apparent at 7:10

Note: Originally posted Oct 23, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric