Rock At The Movies, Scene Three
You came back for more! You’re either a glutton for punishment, or simply want to see what I can do to prove to you even more that, yes, I am a know-nothing dipshit. I’ve subjected you to abuse before, but most of it was of the musical variety. Now, I’ve polluted the world of cinema, too. Where’s the justice? I don’t know, but If you’ve read this far, I figure you want me to demonstrate yet again that I have no idea what I’m talking about. Roll film!
The Decline of Western Civilization and the Clash’s Rude Boy are both terrific punk films. DWC traces the LA punk scene with bands like X, Black Flag, the Circle Jerks and others being showcased. It really captures the time and place well – the nihilism, slam dancing, and rough side of the California dream. Good stuff. And the Clash? Well, I loved that band, and this film has some amazing concert footage and interviews that are fun. It’s hard to imagine how energetic their live shows were, and the behavior of the English punk fan base is ridiculous. Another time piece.
Sticking with the punk theme, Sid and Nancy is my pick for the Sex Pistols movie to see. Yes, there is some bombastic b.s. in the film, but the story of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungeon is unbelievable. Set among the whole Johnny Rotten-Malcolm McLaren backdrop of the Pistols, this story follows two hard core drug addicts barreling through rock’s underbelly. Vicious was probably the most “punk” of all the English musicians and his violent, crazy relationship with his girlfriend was complex, grotesque and yet, sometimes, sweet and loving. It’s compelling.
Phew, better get away from the punk scene after that. Let’s go waaaaay back to another great biopic: The Buddy Holly Story. It’s hard to imagine that Gary Busey stars in this film given his present persona, but he did a bang-up job as the horn-rimmed early rock revolutionary. It’s a really good story ending with the tragic plane crash death of Buddy Holly. The story was good enough to make me go back and explore the music of this prodigy from Texas. The beginnings of garage rock lovingly displayed.
What about Purple Rain? Yes, it’s slow paced, has bad dramatic scenes and is misogynistic (it’s Prince, after all). But the music itself is amazing, and worth watching just for that purpose. With Prince now dead and gone, it also is a reminder of what an amazing artist he was. And does anyone remember Phantom of the Paradise, Brian DePalma’s homage to Phantom of the Opera in a rock setting? I can’t imagine Hollywood putting anything out like this today, but I liked it back when I saw it in high school. I haven’t seen it in decades – did it hold up?
There are some big Hollywood films out there, too. Ray is probably known by everyone reading this blog, and Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of Ray Charles covers the gamut of human emotions. It’s really a terrific film, recognizes that Charles was one super-talented musician, and a movie that is highly recommended. Other big-time films of note are Walk the Line about Johnny and June Carter Cash (my mother-in-law hilariously called JCC a “tom cat’s kitten,” haha). It’s another great story and solid film. Johnny Cash was country’s true outlaw – a rock ‘n roller at heart. There is a so-so movie about James Brown called Get On Up – unfortunately, a movie miss about one of the most amazing and influential soul/funk performers of all time. I still listen to JB – he was unbelievable, and his dancing is the best! But the movie wasn’t that good.
Hey! You’re still with me? Coool. I’ll be back for the final segment of this amazingly astute blog post. The whole world is pondering “what’s next?” Here’s a secret: check back soon and you’ll find out.
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My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.