An elegant companion piece to Jim Jarmusch’s scraggly Year of the Horse, Jonathan Demme’s Neil Young: Heart of Gold documents the rocker’s August 2005 performance at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium during his tour for last year’s Prairie Wind (an album written while he awaited surgery to remedy a brain aneurysm). Split somewhat evenly between new tracks (during its first half) and classics (during its latter portion), Young’s show features a preponderance of songs that deal with mortality, a theme that resonates even more forcefully thanks to Demme’s breathtaking combination of tight close-ups (which, during tunes such as “God Made Me” and “It’s a Dream,” convey a sense of weighty isolation) and panoramic wide shots of the crowded stage (which express a counterbalancing optimism and sense of community). Unlike Dave Chappelle’s Block Party or Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!, Heart of Gold refuses to slice-and-dice Young’s country-tinged numbers with interview clips or aggressively gimmicky edits, the director’s beautifully composed mise-en-scène – aided by Ellen Kuras’ golden cinematography and Andy Keir’s supple editing – expertly, expressively attuned to both the melancholic wistfulness and sly mirth of tracks like “Old King.” What shines through Young’s sterling set is the intrinsically autobiographical nature of his work, with something like “Old Man” – which the artist admits was penned, while he was a still-spry 24, about his elderly ranch foreman – now reverberating with the wisdom gained from a different, more seasoned perspective on life. Old and new, dark and light, sorrow and joy – all are inextricably united in Demme’s wonderful Heart of Gold, which vividly captures Young’s greatness by simply letting him do his thing. It may be the finest concert film I’ve ever seen.