I was talking with a friend the other day about our favorite rock films. I'm not speaking of concert movies. I'll save that list for another time. This list is for movies about rock music or where rock music is integral to the story.
1. High Fidelity - This movie, starring John Cusack, is as much about love realtionships as it is about music. In the lead character Rob Gordon's mind music and love are intimately entwined. The film is full of so many insider,hipster music references that it may not resonate with others like it does with me. It's based on the novel of the same name by British writer Nick Hornby. I belong to a music message board where I go by the name Rob Gordon, complete with a John Cusack icon.
2. Almost Famous - Based on writer/director Cameron Crowe's true life experience as a teenage reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, it's a movie that makes me energized about the power of music every time I watch it. The cast is terrific and includes a college classmate of mine, Frances McDormand, and an early look at Zooey Deschanel, not to mention Philip Seymour Hoffman as rock critic Lester Bangs. The fact that Cleveland plays an important role in the film makes it that much more special for me.
3. Hard Day's Night - Probably my favorite feel good movie of all time. If I need to regain some of my youthful spirit I simply watch the Beatles in timeless black and white as they live the life we all desire.
4. This Is Spinal Tap - Christopher Guest, Rob Reiner and the rest nail the excesses of rock stardom in this hilarious parody of a heavy metal band. We watch them fall from star status to has-beens in the course of 82, laugh-filled, minutes. The bonus footage contains my favorite scene, the late Bruno Kirby, who plays a chauffeur, in his underpants singing Frank Sinatra for the band.
5. Dig! - Ondi Timoner struck gold when she decided to make a documentary about a rock band. The result is hardly a documentary but more of a drama as we watch the rise of one band, The Dandy Warhols and the fall of another, The Brian Jonestown Massacre. It's a disturbing movie as we witness the raw reality of Anton Newcombe's mental illness and self-destructive nature. There is humor though, most notably via Newcombe's bandmate/court jester Joel Gion. This movie is about as real a look inside the life of a band as you'll find.