RR Films: (Other) Musicians

Amidst all the petulance, prejudice and posturing of Adolf Trump’s first week, I found one glorious ray of sunshine: the Scorsese-produced doc about the Grateful Dead, Long Strange Trip, was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Yippee!!

It’s the full 4-hour treatment awarded to Dylan, George Harrison and Tom Petty and it garnered much positivity from Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. I will swallow my pride and take a trial subscription to Amazon Prime to see it when it airs in 6 parts there in May.

Currently, my favourite film about musicians is, naturally, The Grateful Dead Movie (closely followed by Stop Making Sense), Jerry Garcia’s labour of love, which opens like this:

What films about musicians, in real life or biopic form, would you recommend?

41 thoughts on “RR Films: (Other) Musicians

  1. Two spring to mind immediately.

    The first is Clint Eastwood’s “Bird” about the life of Charlie Parker and the second is “Round Midnight“, directed by Bertrand Tavernier, which is a fictional treatment that draws of the lives of Lester Young and Bud Powell.

    Vis-a-vis The Grateful Dead Movie, I used to work with someone who owned a video of it, which I borrowed a couple of times. I had long thought that it wasn’t available on DVD but looking on Amazon, I have discovered that it is, so I have just bought it.

      • I remember going to see “Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii” in the summer after I’d left school with a few friends. We decided that the experience would be improved by altered consciousness, so we, ahem, took steps to ensure that we passed through the doors of perception. It was, to quote the Grateful Dead, something of a long, strange trip.

  2. Control

    24 Hour Party People

    I just watched a Noisey documentary about the grime scene in Blackpool. I think I knew every single road, street, avenue and close in the 30 minutes. Those kids were “gassed”. Depressing and elating in equal measure. Probably the best short film ever about the birth of a scene – one that arises from a totally miserable teenage life (actually, one of the rappers wasn’t even a teenager). (And maybe my teen life in Blackpool wasn’t normal?)

  3. As you’ve already alluded to this I’m sure you won’t be in the least surprise to see that I recommend Runnin’ Down A Dream, a 4-hour film about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Those who’ve known me for a while know that I was turned on to TP&TH by seeing this film on BBC4 in 2010. Yes, I know they’ve been going since 1976. I don’t know where I was all that time. This is a wonderful film.

  4. Can’t think of any that I rate other than “Oil City Confidential” by Julien Temple about the Feelgoods and, if it counts, “Still Crazy” about a fictional rock band that starred Billy Connolly, Jimmy Nail, Tim Spall and Bill Nighy, really good that was

  5. I didn’t see it until about fifteen years after it was released but I think I would go for “Don’t Look Back”. About Dylan’s 1965 tour of the UK. And his break-up with Joan Baez really. Pretty “warts and all” but some fantastic music.

      • We used to have a theater where they would start showing at 9 am with the last screening at 10 pm. You could buy a ticket and, as long as you don’t exit the gates, be able to see the next show too. We almost lived in that theater for the week.

      • We have a kind of cool little local theater. About a year ago they had a triple bill of Gimme Shelter, Song Remains the Same, and Stop Making Sense. It sounded fun, until i realized that if i was inclined to watch 7 or so hours of concert films (that i’d already seen) straight, i’d rather do it in my home. There’s something to be gleaned from that, but i have no idea what it is.

      • Ah but those days I didn’t have a VCR nor was music freely available here. Until the early 90s we were dependent on tourists passing on music and friends/family coming back home. Last Waltz the album came much later than the movie.

      • Theaters have other problems too, like if you smoke or nature calls at the wrong time. I saw Pulp Fiction by myself at a matinee, i think it was like 3 hours long. Took a smoke break, and didn’t find out until i went to work and was talking about it with someone that John Travolta got blown away on the toilet.

  6. I’ll try to shoehorn another film on Dylan: I’m Not There*. Lovely performance by Cate Blanchet, whose casting I feel was inspired. I liked Ray as well.
    *When The Ship Comes In by Marcus Carl Franklin was going to be my Earworm this week.

    • Cate Blanchett was great as Dylan in that film. I loved it but it did seem to divide people. I know some people who wanted/expected a straight biopic and were exasperated. “Is this character meant to be Sarah or Suze Rotolo?” “Why is he an actor in this bit?” “who’s the little black boy?” etc……..

    • I’m a big fan of I’m Not There, too, Ravi; the whole multi-Dylan concept and its execution. But, as sev says, it’s a bit divisive: I recommended it to a Dylan lover who later cursed me for exposing him to such garbage!

      • I really had no problem with that approach. At least the film makers had some guts to try something new. And the music was pretty good too.

  7. I really liked Walk the Line, a film about Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. Joaquin Phoenix and Reece Witherspoon do a good job of the singing and melancholy…
    As a kid I remember watching Coal Miner’s Daughter with my mum. It’s about Loretta Lynn’s rise from poverty to stardom. My parents didn’t play any country music at home, so it was my intro to this genre.

    • I saw Walk the Line, but it seems to me it must have been on TV or on a plane or something, it porbably wasn’t anythigi’d go see in a theatre. And honestly i don’t remember much about it either, except for Reese Witherspoon.

  8. Beware Of Mr Baker is an interesting attempt to understand the notoriously difficult – and often violent – Ginger. Well worth a look.

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