Friday, 10 April 2015

There are music films, and films about music

These are my favourites.
It may be a direct musical theme, it may be just a really good soundtrack.
Films for music lovers.

Empire Records

Whether you´ve worked in a record store or not, this will make you feel like you have. It´s got everything; great tunes, great camraderie, quotable lines, a struggle, humour and a character for everyone. Also featuring a great young cast who went on to bigger fame.

If you want blood......

Blues Brothers

Another great film about working together to pull something off. It´s offbeat, funny and totally unexpected. The lineup is frankly ridiculous. Aside from John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, you´ve got Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Cab Calloway, Donald " Duck "Dunn and Steve Cropper among many others. Buckets of fun.

What I would give to be a dancer in this scene.....

Almost Famous

A beautiful semi-autobiographical film by Cameron Crowe, about his time as a young rock writer in the early 70´s. It´s warm, honest and sweet with a phenomenal backing track, changing songs almost every minute, but seamlessly. It is one of the films that has most accurately held up a mirror to my love of music and how the journey of discovery feels. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is heartbreakingly exquisite as Lester Bangs, Kate Hudson embodies the queen groupie composite, a perfect combination of life and soul of the party glamour and vulnerability. In fact everyone is glorious. Just watch it, you´ll fall in love.

Here, this scene didn´t make it in. It´s excellent.

Human Traffic

I don´t really know what the point is writing about this, I don´t really know what to say. It became so much a part of my youth and every time I watch it I realise more and more of what we say to this day is ripped from this film. Effectively a group of mates, a serious weekend in a Cardiff club and house parties. It doesn´t matter if you aren´t into clubbing or house music, there is so much to relate to, and it´s brilliantly well done. The record shop scene is perfection. The weekend has landed. Featuring a glorious performance from a young Danny Dyer.


High Fidelity

This is working in a record shop. It´s funny, it´s sad and it all rings pretty true. Our protaganist Rob is delving through his relationship history to understand his current, failed endeavour with Laura, all to a fine and varied soundtrack. Jack Black´s Barry, his record shop co-worker/employee is utterly perfect. Everyone knows a Barry (don´t worry, if you are self aware enough to worry it´s you, it´s not you). The top 5s, the arguments, competition, the recommendations, evreything. Spot on. How do you order yours? Chronological? Alphabetical? Autobiographical.

An excellent deleted scene.

The Last Waltz

This is a little different. It is a recording of a live concert, interspersed with interviews. Directed by Scorcese, and filmed at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, it is beautifully staged and lighted. It feels warm and grand, suitable for a farewell to such a well loved group. The concert included cameos from such delights as Van Morrison, Dr John, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan, cut with candid interviews with the band. It is indicative of, if nothing else, the pure joy they have inspired that so many glorious artists should take the time to come and play with them. For me, however, a lovely bonus is how these artists really raise their game to share an equal footing on the stage with these guys. Neil Young announces it´s one of the pleasures of his life to be on the stage with them, I´m pretty sure Dr John is thanking them profusely before his glittering performance of Such A Night but it´s rather unintelligable. Van Morrison wears sparkles, for god´s sake. There are delightful studio performances from The Staples and Emmy Lou too. Levon talking about travelling shows  (Wallcott´s Rabbitfoot Minstrels) is lovely. Richard Manuel smiles discussing The Band´s less iconic previous names. The scene where Rick Danko plays a recording of his solo track Sip The Wine is bliss. Overall though, the solo performances by The Band are the ultimate demonstration that nothing and nobody else is needed but their talent, and their tunes.

No comments:

Post a Comment