Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
The hippies say you should do your own thing. Movies should too. We don't go to a Western expecting "Citizen Kane," but we do hope for a good Western. If we're disappointed, It's not because the movie wasn't a masterpiece but because it wasn't a Western.
Same goes for spy movies, detective movies, musicals, the "Carry on Nurse" series and just about every other form not meant to be taken as art. A Western should either BE a Western, or it should demonstrate that it knows how not to be one, like "El Dorado," in which John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and Howard Hawks (old Western pros all) made fun of a form they know and love. What is fatal is a Western that doesn't know how to be a Western or anything else, like the dreadful "A Stranger in Town."
"Billion Dollar Brain" falls in the fatal category: it is a spy movie that commits the unforgivable sin of losing track of its plot.
How can you take it seriously when the spy's mission is never made clear? When, through faulty scripting or editing, the characters greet people they aren't supposed to know? When the Russian spy is killed by his own guys, and yet he didn't do anything wrong? When you can't quite get it straight what the threat to Western civilization is this time, and how the spy is going to save us? When you wonder if maybe the projectionist didn't forget to show one reel?