Top music-related films to get stuck into of a wet weekend
The much anticipated film Motley Crue “The Dirt” is about to drop and it’s everything Hollywood dreams of: rags to riches, drama, comedy, outrageous behaviour, failure, fall from grace, redemption, and characters that would go on to become living legends. Like them or not, the band did what they wanted and for better or worse, they’ve let it all hang out.
But what to do once the film is over? Well, we’ve put together a list of our favourite music-related films covering biopics, documentaries, and otherwise, to give you a run down of stuff to get stuck if you haven’t seen them already.
1. Nowhere Boy (John Lennon)
Focusing on the life of John Lennon before Beatles fame swept him up and changed his life forever, “Nowhere Boy” tackles the artist’s teenage years. Based on a memoir by his half-sister Julia Baird, we’re taken through Lennon’s relationships with his mother Julia Lennon, his aunt Mimi Smith, and the beginning of his musical career with The Quarrymen (who later evolved in The Beatles). However, if you want a film that focuses more on The Beatles, check out the next film on the list.
2. The Beatles: Eight Days a Week
This documentary directed by Ron Howard, “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week” follows their career during the hectic touring years from 1962 to 1966. Intimate gigs at the Cavern Club their Shea Stadium performance to their final concert in San Francisco, the meteoric rise of one of the biggest bands ever is told with faithful attention to detail. Produced in cooperation with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, it is as close to the real deal as you’re going to get.
3. I’m Not There (Bob Dylan)
Rather than going down the route of capturing Bob Dylan’s life using a single actor, director Todd Haynes went about it in a more unusual way. A total of six actors, including Richard Gere and Cate Blanchett, all play different renditions of the songwriter and his many personas. If you’re a die-hard Dylan fan, then it’s the little things like anecdotes and quotes that will delight and excite. If you’re not it might be a bit of an odd journey. Either way, it is a quality film with superb performances and being a bit quirky is in keeping with the enigmatic Dylan.
4. Control (Ian Curtis)
Based on Deborah Curtis’ book “Touching from a Distance” and “Torn Apart” by Lindsay Reade, Anton Corbijn’s “Control” focuses on the life of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis. Having worked with the band extensively in the earlier part of his career, Corbijn was well placed in his feature film debut. Centring on Curtis’ epilepsy and medication, his subsequent depression, a struggling marriage and his role in the rise of Joy Division, “Control” is far from an easy watch but if it’s authenticity that you’re after, you get it in spades. The surviving members of Joy Division, Hook, Morris and Sumner, all created music for the film.
5. 24 Hour Party People (Tony Wilson)
If you’d rather a more tongue in cheek, possibly not 100% truthful take on the Manchester scene around the same time as “Control” through the late “Madchester” rave scene of the 80s, then “24 Hour Party People” might be up your street. Steve Coogan plays Tony Wilson, founder of Factory Records who put out albums by Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays, and many more, as well as bearing responsibility for opening the (in)famous Hacienda club. The film takes in the ridiculousness of the time, Wilson’s inability to run a company and hold it down relationship-wise, but also gives the man credit for being able to spot talent from a mile away and hold true to his convictions when he believed in someone. As far as films go on this list, it’s probably the most light-hearted so fill your boots if you’re feeling a bit down.
6. Walk the Line (Johnny Cash)
It’s not unusual for biopics to show a ‘warts and all’ take on the subject of the film, but “Walk the Line” doesn’t hold anything back. A difficult upbringing, an unhappy first marriage, alcohol and prescription drug abuse, Johnny Cash lived several lifetimes before he even got to perform THAT legendary set at San Quentin. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon do a brilliant job of conveying the romance behind Johnny Cash and June Carter, and both won Academy Awards for their performances. Guaranteed to make you want to pick up the acoustic and play by the end of it (if you can wait that long!).
7. Blaze (Blaze Foley)
Sticking with the country vibe, “Blaze” follows the life and death of a relative unknown outside of country circles, Blaze Foley. As brief as his 39 years on this earth was, Foley’s was a life rich in hard knocks from contracting polio as a kid to his tragic death. Ethan Hawke directs the brilliant Ben Dickey as Foley, who brings his emotive lyrics and music to life in a heart-wrenching portrayal.
8. Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
If you’ve not heard the buzz around “Bohemian Rhapsody” recently then where have you been? The film picked up four Oscars with lead Rami Malek picking up Best Actor for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury, has courted its fair share of controversy with regard to directors and actors dropping out, and even has a memorable scene for all the wrong reasons. That being said, even if you watch the Live Aid bit and don’t feel like sticking round the rest, then there’s fair’s fair but you’re missing out.
9. Some Kind of Monster (Metallica)
If you’ve not heard about or watched “Some Kind of Monster” then again, where have you been? Metallica fan or not, getting the chance to see the dynamics behinds one of the biggest bands in the world is exceptionally rare. Though Metallica weren’t new to documenting themselves (“A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica”, “Cunning Stunts”), the footage captured in “Some Kind of Monster” is a world away from a youthful band in their touring prime. Fallouts, battles with alcoholism, infighting, therapy, making amends for past grievances, coming together and working things out, ultimately getting themselves back together and moving on as tight unit once again, it’s got it all.
10. Lemmy (Lemmy Kilmister)
When it comes to rock icons, did anyone even come close to Lemmy? He was a man who could have probably single-handedly taken on Motley Crue at their own game! The rockumentary “Lemmy” interviews a who’s who from the rock and metal world who admired and respected Lemmy, not least for his exploits but for is prowess as a musician, front man, and all-round legend.
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Jon is a multi-instrumentalist with a passion for inspiring others to get involved in making music. After spending many years playing venues here, there and – pretty much – everywhere, he joined the Dawsons’ Music Web Team before progressing into his current role managing the Dawsons Blog.