Good Time
Blade Runner 2049
mother!
Detroit
Manifesto (Julian Rosefeldt over)
World Famous in the Netherlands

Lee Towers: The Voice of Rotterdam

The Netherlands, 2013 | Hans Heijnen
Tom Mes checks in from Tokyo to report on Lee Towers: The Voice of Rotterdam, a documentary on one of Rotterdam's local heroes with its fair share of Spinal Tap moments.

The Rotterdam Film Festival is, beside international, also very local — in spite of wavering support from the municipality. Case in point: Lee Towers: The Voice of Rotterdam, a documentary about one of Rotterdam's local heroes, largely financed by the city's main broadcaster.

Lee Towers is a pure product of Rotterdam. Born Leen Huijzer in one of the blue-collar areas typical of the south-side of town, he was a harbour crane driver before a television appearance in the 1970s launched his singing career. In the decade that followed, he distilled the image of the tuxedoed Vegas crooner down to something palatable for a Dutch audience, combining the most time-tested tunes in Sinatra's repertoire with Tom Jones's penchant for glittery get-ups (minus the chest hair and horn dog hip-swinging), and presenting the resulting concoction dead smack in the centre of the Ahoy, Rotterdam's 10,000-seat sports and concert arena, with his annual sold-out 'Gala of the Year' concerts. By humble Dutch standards, this was nothing short of miraculous.

Hans Heijnen's documentary starts off on the eve of Towers's return to Ahoy in 2011, after a string of personal tragedies saw him shun the stage for nine years. However local the singer's celebrity may be, the setting and emotions are universal enough for international audiences to empathise: the revelation of a public figure's private face through backstage frustrations, the still-emotional subject of his lengthy absence and the constant, comforting presence of the ever-devoted Laura, his wife of 42 years.

So far, so fair.

Perhaps the touchstone for all good music documentaries is Rob Reiner's This Is Spinal Tap, a film that paradoxically isn't a documentary but whose tales of the absurdities of life on the road is so real that many a musician shuddered to confront it; Aerosmith's Steven Tyler once said he freaked out when he saw it shortly after parting ways with guitarist and writing partner Joe Perry in a haze of dope, alcohol and bloated egos. (To prove that life can be sillier than fiction, later the same year the short-lived Perry-less incarnation of Aerosmith released an album with a picture of Stonehenge on the cover.)

Lee Towers: The Voice of Rotterdam has its share of Spinal Tap moments, which, certainly in cinematic terms, are more resonant and revealing than any of the singer's teary-eyed moments: a few days before his triumphant return to Ahoy, Lee is hired to mime to a backing tape at the birthday party of a 42-year-old Down's syndrome sufferer; taking the stage at a 'Pirate Festival' for an audience more suited to a Justin Bieber concert; vainly cracking jokes and belting out his best-known tunes in front of empty plastic country chairs and indifferent corporate bigwigs more interested in the catering; and the moment described in the festival catalogue, in which, waiting for his curtain call amid wholesale-sized tubs of mayonnaise in the storage room of a corner café, Lee earnestly professes his love for his job.

These Spinal Tap moments are equally revealing of the man and of the country in which he is, as one member of his entourage phrases it, 'world famous' — The Netherlands, its culture and its people: from tales of working-class hardship, via the herring parties, to the adoring mass of greying baby boomers at his climactic comeback Gala. And through it all Lee remains Leen, a guy from the south-side, a regular guy — precisely the way the Dutch prefer their local heroes.

Tom Mes was born in a blue-collar area on the south-side of Rotterdam. He is the editor-in-chief of MidnightEye.com and author of several books on Japanese cinema.



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Lee Towers: The Voice of Rotterdam

Filmkrant #351, February 2013

Slow Criticism 2013

Titelindex


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L

L'chaim!
L.A. CONFIDENTIAL
La La Land
LAAGLAND
DE LAATSTE DAGEN VAN EMMA BLANK
DE LAATSTE OVERWINNING
LABAN HET ALLERLIEFSTE SPOOKJE
LADDER 49
LADIES IN LAVENDER
LADIES IN LOVE
LADIES ROOM
LADRI DI BICICLETTE (FIETSENDIEVEN)
IL LADRO DI BAMBINI
The Lady
LADY CHATTERLEY ET LE HOMME DE BOIS
LADY EN DE VAGEBOND
The Lady in the Van
LADY IN THE WATER
Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd over)
LADY SNOWBLOOD
LADYBIRD, LADYBIRD
THE LADYKILLERS
LAGAAN
LAGRIMAS NEGRAS
LAILA'S BIRTHDAY
LAISSEZ-PASSER
LE LAIT DE LA TENDRESSE HUMAINE
THE LAKE HOUSE
LAKE PLACID
LAKE TAHOE
LAKEBOAT
LAMENTO EMORI
LAMERICA
LAND AND FREEDOM
Land of Mine — Under Sandet
LAND OF PLENTY
LAND OF THE DEAD
The Land of the Enlightened
THE LAND OF THE WANDERING SOULS
Land van aankomst
Landscape Suicide
LANDSCHAPPEN WAAR NIEMAND VAN WEET
LANG & GELUKKIG
Lang leve de Koningin
De lange weg naar het Noorden (Tout en haut du monde)
LANGER LICHT
THE LANGOLIERS
DE LANGSTE REIS
LANSKY
LANTANA
LAP ROUGE
LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE
LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER
Larry Crowne
LARS AND THE REAL GIRL
LAST ACTION HERO
THE LAST AIRBENDER 3D
THE LAST BROADCAST
THE LAST CASTLE
LAST CHANCE HARVEY
LAST CONVERSATION
LAST DANCE
LAST DAYS
THE LAST DAYS
THE LAST DAYS OF SHISHMAREF
The Last Elvis (El último Elvis)
THE LAST EXORCISM
The Last Exorcism part II
Last Hijack (Femke Wolting en Tommy Pallotta over)
LAST HOLIDAY
THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT
THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND
THE LAST LEGION
LAST MAN STANDING
LAST NIGHT
LAST RESORT
THE LAST SAMURAI
THE LAST SEDUCTION
THE LAST SEDUCTION II
The Last Sentence
THE LAST STATION
LAST STOP 174
THE LAST SUPPER
THE LAST TRAIN
LAST TRAIN HOME
Last Vegas
The Last Witch Hunter
The Last Wolf
LATCHO DROM
LATE FRAGMENT
LATE MARRIAGE
Late Mizoguchi
A Late Quartet
Late Spring
LAURA'S STER
Laurence Anyways
LAW ABIDING CITIZEN
Lawless
LAWNMOWER MAN 2: BEYOND CYBERSPACE
Lay the Favorite
LAYER CAKE
Layla Fourie
Layla M.
LEAF ON A PILLOW
THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN
A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
LEAP YEAR
LEATHERHEADS
LEAVING LAS VEGAS
LEAVING MANDELA PARK
LEBANON
DAS LEBEN DER ANDEREN
DAS LEBEN IST EINE BAUSTELLE
Lee Towers: The Voice of Rotterdam
LEEF!
DE LEEUWENKONING II: SIMBA'S TROTS
LEF
LEFT LUGGAGE
LEGALLY BLONDE
LEGALLY BLONDE (2): RED WHITE AND BLONDE
Legend
THE LEGEND OF 1900
THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE
THE LEGEND OF GINGKO/GINGKO BED 2
The Legend of Hercules
The Legend of Longwood
The Legend of Tarzan
LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS 3D
LEGEND OF ZORRO
De legende van Walhalla: Thor
LEGENDS OF THE FALL
De LEGO Batman Film
De LEGO Film
De LEGO Ninjago Film
LEK
LEMMING
LEMON TREE
Lemonade
LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
Lena
LEO TOLSTOY'S ANNA KARENINA
LA LEÓN
LEON
LEONARD COHEN: I'M YOUR MAN
LEONERA
THE LEOPARD SON
LEPEL
LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS
The Lesson
LET EACH ONE GO WHERE HE MAY
LET ME HAVE IT ALL
LET ME IN
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
Let's Be Cops
LET'S MAKE MONEY
LETHAL WEAPON 4
LETTER TO AMERICA
LETTERS FROM A KILLER
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
LETTERS TO JULIET
LA LETTRE
DE LEUGEN
Leve boerenliefde
LEVE HET BRUINE MONSTER
LEVEN MET JE OGEN
HET LEVEN UIT EEN DAG
Het leven volgens Nino
Leven? Of theater?
HET LEVENDE BOS
Levende rivier
Leviathan (Andrei Zvjagintsev)
Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel)
LEVITY
UNE LIAISON PORNOGRAPHIQUE
LIAM
LIAR
LIAR LIAR
LIBERA
La libertad
LIBERTÉ
THE LIBERTINE
LIBERTY HEIGHTS
LICENSE TO WED
LICHTER (DISTANT LIGHTS)
LIEBE IN GEDANKEN (LOVE IN THOUGHTS)
Het lied van de zee
LIEDEREN UIT HET LAND VAN MIJN MOEDER
LIEFDE EN GELUK
Liefde is aardappelen
LIES
Life (Anton Corbijn)
Life (Daniel Espinosa)
LIFE (Ted Demme)
LIFE ACCORDING TO AGFA
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PETER SELLERS
THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU
LIFE AS A HOUSE
LIFE AS WE KNOW IT
THE LIFE BEFORE HER EYES
LIFE DURING WARTIME
LIFE IS A MIRACLE
Life is Beautiful
A LIFE LESS ORDINARY
Life of Crime
THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE
Life of Pi
Life, Animated
Lifeforce
Lifelong
LIFESAVERS
LIFETIMES
The Light Between Oceans
LIGHT SLEEPER
The Light Thief
Light Years
THE LIGHTHOUSE
LIGHTS IN THE DUSK
Lights Out
LIJMEN HET BEEN
Like Father, Like Son
LIKE GRAINS OF SAND
LIKE IT IS
LIKE MIKE
Like Someone in Love
LILA DIT ÇA
Lilet Never Happened
LILJA 4-EVER
LILO & STITCH
Lilting (Hong Khaou over)
Lily Lane (Previously Unreleased)
LIMBO
THE LIMEY
LIMITLESS
THE LIMITS OF CONTROL
LIMO
Lincoln
THE LINCOLN LAWYER
LINHA DE PASSE
LINKS
Lion
THE LION KING
Lion King 3D
LIONS FOR LAMBS
LIPSTICK ON YOUR COLLAR
LISA
Lisandro Alonso Box
LISBON STORY
Listen to Me Marlon
Little Black Spiders
LITTLE BUDDHA
LITTLE CHILDREN
LITTLE MAN
Little Men
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
LITTLE NICKY
LITTLE ODESSA
A LITTLE PRINCESS
THE LITTLE RASCALS
LITTLE SENEGAL
Little Sparrows
A LITTLE TRIP TO HEAVEN
THE LITTLE VAMPIRE
LITTLE VOICE
LITTLE WOMEN
Live By Night
LIVE FLESH
LIVE FOREVER
LIVE!
LIVERPOOL
LIVING IN OBLIVION
LIVING OUT LOUD
LIVING WITH AN IDIOT
Liza, the Fox-Fairy
THE LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE
Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World
LOADED
The Lobster
THE LOCALS
LOCH NESS
LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS
Locke
Lockout
LOENATIK DE MOEVIE
Loenatik, te gek
LOFT
Logan
Logan Lucky
La loi du marché (Vincent Lindon over)
Loin des hommes
LOL: Laughing Out Loud
LOLA RENNT
Lola Versus
LOLITA
LOMAX, THE SONGHUNTER
LONDON RIVER
LONDON TO BRIGHTON
LONE STAR
The Loneliest Planet
LONELY HEARTS
A Long and Happy Life
THE LONG DAY CLOSES
UN LONG DIMANCHE DE FIANÇAILLES
THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT
A Long Story
LONG TIME DEAD
THE LONG WEEKEND
The Longest Ride
The Look of Love
The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer over)
LOOK WHO'S TALKING NOW!
LOOKING FOR ERIC
LOOKING FOR RICHARD
THE LOOKOUT (John Badham)
THE LOOKOUT (Scott Frank)
LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION
Looper
LORD OF ILLUSIONS
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS
LORD OF WAR
Lore
LORENZO'S OIL
LOST AND DELIRIOUS
THE LOST CITY
The Lost City of Z
LOST HIGHWAY
LOST IN SPACE
LOST IN TRANSLATION
LOST IN YONKERS
LOST PARADISE
THE LOST PARADISE
LOST PERSONS AREA
Lost River
LOST SOULS
The Lost Weekend
THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK
LOT
A LOT LIKE LOVE
Lotgenoten
Lotte en de maansteen
LOTTE VAN UITVINDERSDORP
Lotus
LOU BIOU
LOU REED'S BERLIN
Louder Than Bombs (Joachim Trier over)
Louis Theroux: My Scientology Movie
Louis van Gasteren-box
LOUISE (TAKE 2)
Louise en hiver
Louise Wimmer
LOURDES
Love & Friendship
Love & Fungi
LOVE & OTHER DRUGS
LOVE & SEX
Love (Judd Apatow, Paul Rust, Lesley Arfin)
Love (William Eubank)
Love 3D (Gaspar Noé)
LOVE ACTUALLY
LOVE AFFAIR
LOVE AND DEATH ON LONG ISLAND
Love and Honor
LOVE AND HUMAN REMAINS
LOVE AND OTHER CATASTROPHES
LOVE CONQUERS ALL
LOVE ETC.
Love Eternal
THE LOVE GURU
LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA
Love Is All You Need
Love is Strange
LOVE IS THE DEVIL
Love is Thicker Than Water
THE LOVE LETTER
LOVE LIVE LONG
LOVE LIZA
LOVE ME
LOVE OBJECT
The Love Punch
LOVE RANCH
LOVE SERENADE
LOVE! VALOUR! COMPASSION!
Love, Rosie
Lovelace
Loveless
LOVELY & AMAZING
THE LOVELY BONES
LOVELY BY SURPRISE
LOVELY RITA
LOVER OF LOSER
A LOVESONG FOR BOBBY LONG
Loving
THE LOW LIFE
Lucia de B.
LUCÍA Y EL SEXO
LUCKY BREAK
LUCKY EN ZORBA
LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN
LUCKY NUMBERS
The Lucky One
LUCKY YOU
THE LUCONA AFFAIR
LUDWIG
LUDWIG 1881
LUGARES COMUNES
Lukas & Abel: Vleugelbroertjes
LULU
LUMUMBA
LUNA PAPA
LUNAR ECLIPSE
The Lunchbox
LUNDI MATIN
LOS LUNES AL SOL
LUST, CAUTION
LUTHER
THE LUZHIN DEFENCE
LYNCH (ONE)