Oct 182011

I finally got a chance to watch Nowhere Boy, the early John Lennon biopic starring Aaron Johnson, the titular star of Kick-Ass, and Kristin Scott-Thomas (as Aunt Mimi) tonight. It was solid. I usually dislike biopics, especially artist biopics, but once this film got past an eddy of Oedipal issues between young John and Julia (Get a room, already!, I was feeling at one point) it stuck to a pretty down-to-earth imagining of Lennon’s late-teenage life and his formation of the eventual Beatles. It certainly helped that the actors portraying the musicians actually knew how to play guitar. As far as Beatles biopics go, I wouldn’t rank it near the best, The Rutles’ All You Need Is Cash, or the most interesting portrayal of early Beatles speculation, 1991’s The Hours and Times, but it did its part to recount some key articles of faith.

I DVR’d this Lennon flick from Showtime. Following the credits there was the above trailer for a new U2 documentary, From the Sky Down, on the making of my favorite album by them, Achtung Baby. This trailer has Recounting of Articles of Faith written all over it! It debuts Saturday, October 29.

What’s the most recent rock flick you’ve seen? What’s the next rock flick you plan to see?


  42 Responses to “Rock Flicks in Your Recent Rearview Mirror/On the Horizon”

  1. Just re-watched “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones.” Probably won’t see anything new until I get my hands on the GHarrison doc by Scorsese.


  2. Happiness Stan

    I went to see the Glastonbury Film when it was released a few years ago, which was probably the last rock flick I saw.

    If I ever have a couple of hours with nothing more pressing to do I would like to watch “Derailroaded”, the Wild Man Fischer movie, but I can imagine the comments I’d get from Mrs Happiness if I put that on before her bedtime.

    Not the most recently made, but the one I’ve watched most recently, was Slade in Flame, which is one of the greatest rock flicks ever, like a really grimy, lowlife Hard Days Night.

  3. Derailroaded is not recommended pre-bedtime. Unsurprisingly, it is quite depressing. Still, a great flick for any Larry fan.

    As far as depressing goes, I saw the Phil Ochs doc sometime in the last year. Confirmed my opinion about why Ochs was Ochs and Dylan was Dylan but I never knew how depressing the last years of his life were.

  4. Recently saw the Lemmy documentary.

    I’m working my way through the Moog doc in 20 minute increments.

    Next up after that is the Scorsese Dylan flick which I’ve never seen all the way through.

  5. diskojoe

    Stan, do you remember how Slade In Flame was received in the UK? From what I hear, people were expecting a more of a Benny Hill type of flick. Noddy & the boys did a great job in acting, lots better than the Ramones in Rock ‘n Roll High School (which I do like)

  6. misterioso

    I am looking forward to the Stones “Some Girls live in Texas” dvd, having long enjoyed those shows on bootleg. To my ears this was their last time around as a great live band.

  7. 2000 Man

    Me too. I was gonna go see it last night, but I had a birthday party I couldn’t miss (where is that guy that used to say, “Too bad. This is Stones!”?) But I’m sure it will be cool on DVD. 2002 was a really great, tour, too.

    I’d like to see that Dr. Feelgood movie. I think it’s called Oil City, or something like that. I haven’t seen it anywhere, though. I guess I’ll have to order it.

  8. I just saw The Replacements documentary Color Me Obsessed. It’s been making the rounds at film festivals this summer and fall — and I gave a few bucks to the director through Kickstarter, so he sent me a DVD.

    It’s odd, because it’s really done from a fan’s perspective. No interviews with the band and none of their music. It works for me, because I know all the places they used to play in Minneapolis and own everything they put out.

    The passion exhibited when people talk about what the Replacments meant to them is intense. They never did two shows the same — so there are lots of different stories about their antics. It’s also funny to hear the reaction to “Don’t Tell A Soul” from the early fans (what is this shit?) to newer fans saying “Achin’ To Be” off that record is the best song they ever put out.

    They also interview some rock writers, like Robert Christgau (who loved them), punk fanzine writers and quite a few musicians like Grant Hart of Husker Du and members of the Gaslight Anthem, Soul Asylum, The Hold Steady, and Goo Goo Dolls. Sound guys, promoters, and other people who were in their sphere, including Bob Stinson’s wife, also get their say.

    Probably not for anyone but the obsessed, but here’s the link:

  9. hrrundivbakshi

    The Lemmy doc is great. I need to get my hands on the Slade flick!

  10. Happiness Stan

    Hi Joe, (or is it Hey Joe?), I was only twelve when it came out, so had to lie about my age to get into see it, and any film we got away with seeing which we shouldn’t have was automatically BRILLIANT!!! I stayed to watch it three times, even though that meant sitting through Crystal Voyager twice, (it was the supporting feature and felt twice as tortuously dull and three times as long then to a teenybop audience as it ever has done since, and I blame it for putting me off surfing for life).

    Consequently I’m probably not the most reliable witness, but I do remember that it only played at the smallest of the three cinemas in the town for one week, which suggests that most Slade fans didn’t lie about their age to get in, and that it didn’t make any money. After that, Slade went from having every single enter the charts at number one to struggling to have hits at all, even before they left to try to break America.

    I don’t think the film was such a shock to British kids as it might seem looking back, because (apart from being mostly still in black and white) pretty well all TV drama in the late sixties and early seventies was about unhappy people either being unemployed or in jobs they hated, and living in horribly shabby rented accommodation with rats and cockroaches chewing on bits of the protagonists as they slept, so we were used to bleak. We just didn’t expect Dave Hill and Don Powell to be acting in it.

    And, yes, at the time we would probably have preferred it to have looked like The Monkees, or, indeed, Benny Hill.

    I have no idea who Justin Bieber is, and expect that I’m not the only one here who has never knowingly heard a record by him, but it was probably the Glam Rock equivalent of Justin B deciding that his next project is going to be a low-budget black and white film version of Waiting For Godot with full-frontal nudity.

  11. I recently acquired a copy of the McCartney Citi Field show and put it on in the background. I saw him on that summer mini-tour in Atlanta so, I really wanted as more of a souvenir. Something about shows I’ve seen and Macca pretty much repeats shows right down to the stage banter, so actual location doesn’t matter so much.

    I also ran through The Who at Kilburn ’77. For those that don’t know, this was shot by Jeff Stein for The Kids Are Alright and looks very similar to the material shot at Shepperton in that film (“Baba O’ Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”). From what I understand, this was a one-off show with little to no rehearsal. It wasn’t on the heels of big tour and the band had been in a bit of hiatus when the show was filmed. Needless to say, it was rough around the edges as the band ran through about 14 “hits” for the sole purpose of the film. Pete was especially grumpy even exclaiming at one point, “This wasn’t even worth fucking filming.” Of course that only adds to the overall dynamic that made The Who such a compelling live act. In the end, they ended up not liking the footage and eventually shot the stuff at Shepperton that was used in the film. Things being what they are, though, this thing is now available and is fun to watch one of the great rock acts lumber through a less-than-perfect yet stellar live gig.

    Next up for me? Cisco Pike.


  12. cliff sovinsanity

    Just watched the Ian Curtis-Joy Division biopic Control. It left me wanting a bit more, but the DVD came with a Joy Division documentary which should help fill in the gaps. I’m more interested in the production techniques of Martin Hannett and the band’s overall legacy and influence.

    Looking forward to the Mats documentary, but based on Funoka’s review I’m afraid I will be disappointed.

    On a completely a unrelated note, I’m looking forward to watching the documentary Senna about the legendary F1 driver which I happened to download recently. As a huge IndyCar fan, I hope I can find some solace as I’ve been reeling this week over the death of Dan Wheldon.

  13. Thanks for that link. There is a Film Fest in Philly this weekend and I thought I might catch this. Unfortunately, it was at a Film & Music fest last month. Oh well, one for Netflix.

    I’ll try to catch the U2 thing on Showtime. Maybe even the Cameron Crowe film about Pearl Jam’s 20th anniversary. http://movies.nytimes.com/2011/09/23/movies/pearl-jam-twenty-a-cameron-crowe-documentary-review.html Maybe it will even include the song “Rearviewmirror”.

  14. ladymisskirroyale

    We recently watched “Don’t Look Back” which both of us thought was surprisingly good. I’m not a Dylan fan but the movie helped me get a better idea of his personality, including his some of his hangups, man.

    “Anthem, the Story of Anthem” just arrived in our mailbox, so that will be the next flick.

  15. BigSteve

    I’d forgotten about Control. I guess that’s the most recent ones I’ve seen, except for the George Harrison thing last week. I have no plans to see any rock films in the future.

  16. jeangray

    I would pay serious $$$ to see that Beiber flick!

  17. jeangray

    Who can blame ya???

  18. jeangray

    Guess it’s been a while as “The Runaways” is the mos’ recent one that I have seen. It was somewhat entertaining. Dakota Fanning is all growed up. Interesting in that it didn’t focus so much on Jett, but she was one of the producers of the film.

    Caught the tail end of “Festival Express” the other day, and it looked fantastic.

    Got the Harrison one on my DVR, but have now read some incredibly bad reviews, so I may be tainted. Scorsese has finally lost it, seems to be the gist. I’m a bit of a masochist, so I’ll give it a try.

  19. Donning the proverbial Pince Nez here. The correct title of the film is “Dont Look Back.”

    Roger Ebert thought Dylan came off like an incredible ass in the film and wondered why we everyone adored this little troll. Of course, I disagree with ol’ Ebert (as I do on alot of films). Maybe its my Dylan-colored tinted glasses, but I cant help but think that hes just putting people on as Dylan does. He does come off as incredibly condescending and probably wasnt an all around nice guy, but I also think that much of that came from sheer boredom. Ill bet Dylan doesnt even know anymore. Its still an interesting film. Ill also recommend checking out the supplemental of cut scenes called ’65 Revisited.

    I also cant help crushing on young Joanie Baez. Theres something about that lady.


  20. Happiness Stan

    Don’t Look Back is an extraordinary film, which I find opens new levels of intrigue and fascination with every viewing, plus it opens with what was probably just about the first, and to this day the very greatest, pop video ever made.

    Renaldo and Clara, on the other hand, while not without merit, is somewhat less concise. They showed it on TV on Channel 4 in ’81 or ’82, before most people owned video recorders, so the half-dozen people in the UK who wanted to watch it had to do so in real time. There were some lovely bits in it, particularly Joan Baez doing Diamonds and Rust, Allen Ginsberg singing a song with lyrics by William Blake, and a gorgeous number by Ronee Blakeley, plus some cracking Dylan songs. It was rather thin on plot as I recall, and if memory serves it went on for about four-and-a-half hours. Seems to be completely unavailable these days, which is a shame as I’d like to see it again.

  21. I watched about 30 minutes of The Runaways recently and it just reinforced that I am unable to enjoy Rawk bio-pics. I don’t think anyone ever gets the vibe right.

    Unlike other bio-pics where I can enjoy an actor’s interpretation of the real person, I spend the most of a Rawk bio-pic focusing on how the actor has a different charisma than the real person they are portraying. Performance scenes suck because they can never play like the real person. If they try to do an impression, then it seems like a parody, and if they do their own spin, it seems false. It just makes me want to see/hear/feel the real person being portrayed.

    I cringe whenever they hit a scene that is integral to a band’s mythology, and it’s so fucking forced to get it right for the fan boys.

    It’s got to be a doc or a fake band to even touch on what’s real about rock and roll. I honestly think Spinal Tap is probably the most real rock and roll movie ever made.

    BTW: the Kim Fowley actor in the Runaways was so bad in the 30 minutes I watched that it didn’t have a chance.

  22. ladymisskirroyale

    Touche. I forgot about that errant apostrophe. I almost called the movie, “Don’t Look Now,” but that’s that great, weird, creepy, campy Donald Sutherland movie.

  23. cliff sovinsanity

    Ok, I’ll agree that The Runaways was not a very good film. It’s OK at best. However, I thought that the film was saved by the performances of Fanning and Stewart who completely gave it their all. I believe that the story of The Runaways is compelling enough to be told. It is too bad it was presented in a very cliché rockstar biopic way.
    The Runaways were not a great band, but they were a very important band in the grand scheme of the rock and roll universe. You might be very surprised how few many people know their story. I don’t fault anyone for bringing this picture to light, it’s just too band the film was poorly directed.
    Also, was there any better way to depict Kim Fowley ?

  24. It’s just a no win situation for me in terms of a movie type. More than any other movie genre, I never find myself just absorbed and enjoying a rock bio-pic. I’m always reviewing and critiquing things that seem fake. I can almost imagine I’d have the same reaction if a movie was made about a family member or a close friend. I don’t have the same reaction to music genres I know less about. I certainly liked Bird and Amadeus.

    Fake Fowley’s dialogue and delivery were completely unbelievable. Clearly a guy “acting” like a crazy asshole instead of portraying someone that was a crazy asshole with enough charisma to pull it off. Far more irritating than a guy who is annoying, is an actor heavy-handedly pretending he is annoying.

  25. Fowley deserves a biopic of his own as a madman, rock’n’roll charlatan, and occasionally talented weirdo. Here’s his 1973 takeoff on Mott the Hoople’s “All The Young Dudes”, and notice how creepy he looks as a glamster.

  26. That may have been the first time I’ve heard a lick of his music – no, the second time, but it’s been a while. I’m amazed, for as much as I love music, how many artists I’ve never heard. I just got done reading a grunge book, as I mentioned earlier today, and there are major bands from that scene I don’t know if I’ve ever really heard: Screaming Trees, TAD, The Melvins… I’m not complaining, mind you, I choose to live this way.

  27. jeangray

    You would enjoy the Screaming Trees.

  28. tonyola

    I kind of know that feeling, and looking at the Cashbox and Billboard charts available online, I realized how many hit or near-hit songs I missed from the mid-’70s forward because I didn’t listen much to top 40 radio anymore. Thanks to YouTube and other sources, I can now fill in those gaps, though I discover in many cases it’s not really worth the effort.

  29. Mod, I would be very surprised if you hadn’t heard this Screaming Trees song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PE5f561Y1x4

    The grunge thing didn’t really resonate with me. A few cool songs but that’s it. I couldn’t stand bands like Alice in Chains which just seemed like pointy headstock jock rock dressed up in the latest trend. And I like as many songs by Stone Temple Pilots as I do by Pearl Jam.

  30. Yeah, Alice in Chains is considered a fake grunge band. They started life and even release one record as a hair-metal band.

    I don’t recall ever hearing that Screaming Trees song or seeing the video. I like the chorus and the guitar fills. In the video, why does the singer look like he’s looking over and down at a lyric sheet?

  31. tonyola

    Now here’s an odd twist. After Mott the Hoople/Mott broke up in 1976, a couple of the guys recruited a few new players and created a new band called British Lions. Their 1978 debut single? None other than Fowley’s “International Heroes”! So a Mott song copy ends up being part of the ex-Mott band’s playlist. Is that weird or what?

  32. cliff sovinsanity

    At this point in the discussion, I would like to suggest that the best rock movie in the last 15 years is 24 Hour Party People.

  33. I will check out 24 Hour Party People. I think I’ve avoided it because I had it confused in my head with Party Monster starring a Culkin. I’m frequently confused.

  34. tonyola

    It’s a really good and sometimes very funny movie. Worth checking out.

  35. ladymisskirroyale

    I’m in agreement. I could watch that movie over and over. Just learning about the Factory conference table was worth multiple viewings. All the rock cameos, Steve Coogan – a winning film.

  36. I second or third that. It was great and since I never really followed that Manchester scene, I wasn’t distracted by any inaccuracies that there may have been.

  37. Oil City Confidential…Heard really good things about it, but no legit U.S. release scheduled…yet.

  38. Stellar? I thought Towsers was spot on in his comment. It was a lousy gig, and Pete was terrible…sloppy and meandering…missing cues…It was embarrassing. The blame for that one was always laid on Moon being so out of shape and spent from the time he’d spent living in L.A., not-so slowly killing himself with booze…mostly. Finally seeing it, though, Keith was no more off than the rest of them, and less noticeably so than Pete . I’d rather see the rest of the second Shepperton Studios gig, which the two songs from TKAA came from…by all accounts, they were much more together for that one.

  39. I’ll fourth it…or whatever. “24 Hour Party People” was one of the few that worked. It’s hard to miss with Steve Coogan. I liked “Control”, too.

    Still, I’m in general agreement with Chickie on this; as a genre, bio-pics, and especially musical bio-pics are rarely better than mediocre. I saw the Ian Dury one (“Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll”) not that long ago, and there were some good performances, but I would have still preferred to just see a documentary on the guy, who really was a very interesting character.

    The musical bio-pic treatment, though, just has a way of turning everything into a TV movie/soap opera type of affair, with actors, for the most part, doing impressions of people we’re at least a little familiar with as performers. They also nearly always follow the predictable ‘Behind the Music” arc, of struggle, fame, bad behavior, career crash & burn, and redemption …no matter who it’s about, 99% of the time you’re getting roughly the same movie (“Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” was, I thought, a woefully underrated jab at the genre, which hit on every single bio-pic cliché, and had great genre parody songs, too). For biography, particularly of performers from the recent past, I think documentaries do greater justice to their subjects.

    I thought the Lemmy documentary was really good, and “Anvil: The Story of Anvil” was fucking great…really involving…best rock movie I’ve seen, probably since “This Is Spinal Tap”, and I’d never even heard of the band before, and am not, generally speaking, much of a metal fan, but this thing was so good, it didn’t matter at all….wish I hadn’t waited so long to see it. I’ve seen a couple of documentaries on those Norwegian Black Metal Satanist Guys, who burned churches and killed people, including other Norwegian Black Metal Satanist Guys…those were interesting, mainly for everything except the music. Those guys is kooky.

  40. Do you mean, “Anvil: The Story of Anvil”? If so, I thought that one was great. Hope you enjoy it.

  41. Thanks for the 24 Hour PP tip. Marginal thumbs up for me. True that Steve “she was only 16 years old” Coogan is very good in it. Everyone else in the movie struck me as a cardboard figure. Does anyone else in the movie get anything to do? No one else in the Factory is given a personality. Only the crazy producer seemed to be interesting. Wished they spent more time on Ian Curtis, but they breeze past that, and then it seems to have so many scenes of dancing at The Hacienda that I was bored by the end. Happy Mondays were depicted as your typical one dimensional rock blokes.

    Coogan makes it better than most of these, but I still thought it suffered from many of the standard bio-pic pitfalls. And I know it’s not you, it’s me.

  42. jeangray

    Fantastic flick. Hands down, “Anvil: The Story of Anvil” is the best Rock-doc of recent memory. One would be wrong to assume otherwise.

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