I love band movies, the idea that your band can play that one special gig and you will be the next big thing or the ability to watch a band trying to make their big comeback and see how everything goes wrong or even the idea that if you can get your favorite band to play at your high school, the music will crush all authority figures in your life and you can be free for all life's oppression. I like those ideas and sometimes I wish they were true.
Here are 5 of my favourite Rock Movies that you gotta rock out to:
5. Rock 'N' Roll High School (1979) - PJ Soles plays Riff Randell, the Ramones biggest fan evvvver, goes to Vince Lombardi High School, where they keep losing principals due to the excessive playing of rock 'n' roll. The school board brings in Principal Togar, who hates rock music and vows the end this rock craze. When Principal Togar and a group of parents try and burn a pile of rock records, Riff Randell, with help of the Ramones and the other students take over the school to try a stop the tyrannical administration. The Ramones are great in this movie, they had just finished working on "End of the Century" with Phil Spector and their is some great footage of them performing. The movie is fun, this again is a Roger Corman film, so there's some weird stuff going on in the background and there are some great cameos, so keep your eyes open, and you might even see a giant mouse.
4. CB4 (1993) - In this hip hop "rockumentary", it follows the rise of MC Gusto, Stab Master Arson and Dead Mike from the gangsta group called CB4 (Cell Block 4). Through the narrative of MC Gusto, we find out that Cell Block 4, may not be who they say they are. This film does an excellent job in mirroring what was going on in hip hop in the early 90's with the explosion of gangsta rap and the PMRC trying to stop bands. Phil Hartman (RIP) is great as the Senator, who is trying to stop CB4 concerts, at the same time of a re-election. And again, tons of cameos for hip artists of the day and even the Butthole Surfers show up. However, Chris Rock owns this movie though and gives a great performance as MC Gusto.
3. Sweet & Lowdown (1999) - This is fictitious bio pic, Sean Penn does an amazing job playing Emmet Ray, the world's 2nd best jazz guitarist from the 1930's. The film follows Ray, through his music career, revealing not only his talent on the guitar but his bizarre habits and his obsession with jazz legend, Django Reinhardt. This is the only Woody Allen movie that I thoroughly enjoyed. The Emmett Ray character is so well flushed out that as the more strange and eccentric he becomes, by shooting rats and watching trains for fun, the more the character comes to life and the more enjoyable he is to watch. The soundtrack is amazing and Penn's guitar parts were done so beautifully, thanks to Howard Aldren, that people were looking for Emmett Ray albums after watching the film.
2. Blues Brothers(1982) -After Jake is released from prison, he and his brother Elwood go on a "mission from God" to save the orphanage where they were raised. So, to raise the 5000 dollars, they reform their blues band and try and put together a big concert. Along the way they meet old friends, old enemies and even make new ones. John Belushi and Dan Akyord are pure genius in this movie. In the 80's, there weren't anti heroes but the Blues Brothers were the closest thing. The should have been unlikeable characters, the lie, they steal, they cheat but man were they ever cool doing it. Some of the best scenes, Belushi and Akyord don't even say anything but give that look. And the people that make cameos are legendary, like James Brown, Aretha Franklin, John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles and the list goes on. Even their back up band is soul studded with Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn and Matt "Guitar" Murphy. This is a great story, the soundtrack is incredible and the movie is just plain funny.
1. This Is Spinal Tap (1984) - The classic documentary on the world's loudest band, Spinal Tap, attempting to make their comeback with a new album and an American tour in the early 80's. Rob Reiner, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest do an awesome job at recreating the absurdities of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle. Be it their extensive loss of drummers, Guest's need to turn up his amp to 11 or even the name of the new album, "Smell The Glove" (with an all black cover) , this movie nails the attitude, the look and the style of 80's metal. If you haven't seen this, it's an absolute must.
These films and their soundtracks are so much fun and are interesting to watch to see the common themes in all styles of music. They all share the idea that no matter how hard things get at least they have the music.