Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Music Documentaries

The posts about the best/worst use of music in film made me think about movies about music. Since there are a lot of music documentaries I haven't seen that are supposed to be very good I won't call this list the best but rather just a few really good ones.

1. Buena Vista Social Club

It is amazing how many of these musicians hadn't played in years, even decades, before putting this band together. This is a great movie.

2. Gimme Shelter

My favorite parts of this movie are watching the reactions of the Stones as they are watching the footage of Altamont.

3. You're Gonna Miss Me / The Devil and Daniel Johnston

I grouped these together since they are both stories of mentally ill but very talented Austin musicians. I think the contrast between how the two of them handle their illnesses is really interesting. Daniel is obsessed with being famous and is willing to exploit his illness to become famous (for example, when he says he draws ducks in his artwork because they help him fight the devil you wonder if he really thinks that or if he knows saying that will increase the value of the drawing) while Roky seems like he would be more than happy to be just left alone.

4. Standing in the Shadows of Motown

This is a great unsung heroes story but it loses some points for overstating the importance of the musicians ("anyone could have been singing those songs" - I mean, really?) and for featuring live performances by Ben Harper and Montell Jordan.

5. New York Doll

Arthur Killer Kane is so, so likeable in this movie, and so are the women he works with at the Mormon library who are all atwitter when they find out they work with a rock star. Even knowing before starting it how the movie would end (I don't want to ruin it if someone doesn't know and wants to watch it) it still made me cry.

6. Don't Look Back

I'm sure I would like this movie more if I had been born in the 50s. But, it is good. The best scene is the opening which makes it kind of anti-climatic.


Drew said...

I have to recommend Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser. I saw it when I was kid and it bored me to tears, but then I saw it again in college, and was like "Holy shit!"

Akshay said...

Has anyone seen "Stop Making Sense"? I've heard that's supposed to be good.

Paul Morton said...

It's more of a dance documentary, but this seems as good a place as any to recommend "Paul Taylor: Dancemaker."