We’re in the heart of winter, the perfect reason to nestle into the couch, bury yourself in blankets and turn on a movie. And what better topic than rock and roll, especially when it’s done low, high camp or a little of both? Here are our Top 10 Rock Movies (For People Who Are Easily Entertained), enough ammunition to consider a double feature.
10. Rock Star (2001)
In a plot borrowed from Ripper Owens’ temporary replacement of Rob Halford in [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Judas Priest[/lastfm], copier repairman Mark Wahlberg gets to sing with his idols Steel Dragon. The soundtrack mixes custom-written songs with covers played by real musicians and lip-synched by the singers. Though not especially deep, it provides some amusement and the chance to dig Jennifer Anniston as the long-suffering girlfriend.
9. Top Secret! (1984)
Almost too stupid to resist, Val Kilmer plays a West Coast surfer on a cultural mission to East Germany, where he breaks into song at the drop of the hat (in the spirit of the great musicals of our time). He twists himself into a frenzy on “Cut the Rug” but stops the show with “Tutti Frutti.”
8. Velvet Goldmine (1998)
As the character named Brian Slade, Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays the androgynous [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]David Bowie[/lastfm] character, Ewan McGregor channels [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Iggy Pop[/lastfm] and Christian Bale plays the journalist with a need to know. A collective of Brit session players credited as Venus in Furs provide the music (with Meyers and McGregor doing some singing). Sex, drugs, rock and roll, with plenty of puffy shirts and velvet jackets from wardrobe.
7. Josie and the Pussycats (2001)
Rachel Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson and Tara Reid star as “three small town girls with big time dreams” (or something like that). It’s all about tongue in cheek satire, music business skullduggery and brainwashing, plenty of product-placement sight gags and running jokes about narcissism and insecurity. Ten years later, it’ll seem “uncool” to the teenage girls for whom it was created, but there’s enough here to give you a laugh or two and help you kill 90 minutes. Perfect for people with the flu.
6. Walk Hard – The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
John C. Reilly is Dewey Cox, conglomeration of [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Johnny Cash[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Elvis Presley[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Bob Dylan[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Jim Morrison[/lastfm], with all the gifts and fruitful hormones that come with it. Reverence to the biopic approach makes it all that much more amusing, particularly as Cox graduates to even greater drugs and debauchery with every passing decade (much like we did, right)?
5. Purple Rain (1984)
Depending on your point of view, it’s iconic 1980s rock film at its best or it’s narcissistic trash. We think it’s a little of both: the concert scenes are great, [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Prince[/lastfm]’s sulking is sometimes too hard to take. [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Apollonia[/lastfm] saves the day most of the time, if only for the costumes. We couldn’t find an official trailer but we’ll assume you know what it looks like.
4. Jailhouse Rock (1957)
Twenty-nine. That’s the number of movies that counted Elvis Presley as its star but none were better than this one. The loner, the “blackboard jungle trouble maker,” Vince Everett’s life story was worthy of every minute spent glued to your chair, every box of popcorn ever bought in The King’s name.
3. The Rose (1979)
Most of what we have here are comedies but The Rose, of course, is not at all funny. But it is impressive and entertaining, with Bette Midler more than ably channeling [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Janis Joplin[/lastfm] in her first movie starring role. Yeah, it’s sad at the end but, if for no other reason, it’s worth hearing Midler tear open R&B classics like “When a Man Love a Woman” and “Stay With Me,” backed by some of [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Lou Reed[/lastfm]’s former session players. Plan on this for the opener and then watch Josie and the Pussycats after that.
2. Still Crazy (1998)
“There are only two reasons why you’d haul your a** up here: Either I owe you money or you want to put the band back together.” So goes the story of the fictional ’70s band Strange Fruit. In addition to being screamingly funny, it covers the deeper story of putting away the past and overcoming old hostilities. [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Squeeze[/lastfm]’s Chris Difford wrote a great share of the movie’s music, making a funny story all the better.
1. This is Spinal Tap (1984)
“This.” says Nigel about his sad, minor key ballad, “is called ‘Lick my Love Pump‘.” Just one of the many quotes that make filmmaker Marty DiBergi’s Spinal Tap #1 (or #11, depending on your perspective).
Read Michael Verity’s music reviews and get free MP3’s at MP3.com.