Do you watch High Fidelity every time you get broken up with? Did you watch Almost Famous when you were a teenager convinced that was going to become your life as a music journalist? Or do you just quote Spinal Tap when you’re on tour and can’t find the stage exit? Those are some lesser known rock films that YouRockRed highly recommends. (P.s. Hey, ma!, I’m using my film degree today!)
DON’T LOOK BACK(1967)
While yes, Cate Blanchett did an amazing job portraying Dylan in the Oscar nominated feature a few years back, this is the first true rockumentary. It captures the very first time Dylan went electric, his witty quips to reporters in response and an incredibly real confrontation with Scottish musician Donovan who was clearly smashed. There’s also an adorably romantic scene with then girlfriend Joan Baez in a cab. It also kind of spawned one of the very first music videos in the gritty back-alley one-camera set up of him with the lyrics of Subterranean Homesick Blues being tossed onto the ground. This documentary pre-dates any sort of reality TV, but for those of us accustomed to seeing every aspect of our favourite stars, try to think of this as the first glimpse of a rock stars’ life backstage.
TRUE STORIES (1987)
Disclaimer- Before new wave icon David Byrne was writing books he was writing screenplays and this 1987 feature-length rock musical is a testament to his brilliance. He wrote, produced, starred and scored the entire cult film. After being on the road with the Talking Heads Byrne was inspired by tabloid stories about a man with a sign advertising for a wife on his front lawn and a woman who lied about everything including having a tail. John Goodman stars in this film and dances like a fool to Wild Wild Life. The satiric monotone delivery of David Byrne as the travelling cowboy in a corvette convertible commenting on American life gets me every time.
I just recently saw the CBGB film starring Alan Rickman over the weekend and was elated to see some of my favourite punk rock stars come to life in such accurate character actors (including Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters as Iggy Pop). The down and dirty portrayal of the Lower East Side of New York too full of cockroaches and rats and drug addicts dying on the street- here’s the link. Seriously, if you love Blondie, the Ramones, Television and watching rock stars fail upwards, watch this film.
STONE ROSES: MADE OF STONE (2013)
I saw the Stone Roses documentary last week that made me miss concerts in England so much. The filmmaker Shane Meadows (This is England) is from Nottingham where I used to live and his fandomness of the band is crucial why it got nominated for a BAFTA for best documentary this year. The street scene when BBC 1 announces a rare free show and fans are literally running up the street with their old records in arms was so what good documentary films are made of. That scene may have run a little long but it really gave insight to what the British band meant to its fans and the filmmaker capturing “I Wanna Be Adored” the first time the band played it together in over 20 years in their jam space juxtaposed with the amazing audio quality of all the Stone Roses fans singing back all the lyrics in the small venue – just gave me goosebumps.
9 SONGS (2004)
Now this is one music fans can truly relate to because it combines their two passions: sex and rock and roll inspired by it. From filmmaker Michael Winterbottom (who also did 24 Hour Party People) watching this film almost feel like a voyeur on the cute couple that can’t take their eyes off each other at the last gig you went to. It stars an American/British couple that out to concerts at places like the Apollo to see artists like Franz Ferdinand, The Von Bondies, Super Furry Animals, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and even Michael Nyman. In 2004 it became the most sexually explicit film in history of British cinema after Last Tango in Paris… and the sex scenes are freakin’ hot!