I’m back, did you miss me? I missed you something fierce. I’ve been sitting here with my makeup all done waiting for you to come back. I am ready to move on to Scene Two of my latest dribble about rock movies. Ready, set, action!
One crazy fun movie is School of Rock. Jack Black plays Dewey Finn, a loser rocker who ends up substitute teaching at a prestigious private middle school, and teaches the kids to rock it. Black is funny as hell in his role – he was made for this one – and the story, while a bit over the top, is never so asinine that you can’t playfully tag along. And it ends with the kiddos playing AC/DC’s Long Road to the Top, which you’ll be humming for days after seeing the movie. Great stuff, highly recommended.
Now, you have to pick one of the 60s festival movies, like Woodstock or Gimme Shelter. Different genres for sure. Woodstock is kind of fun archival stuff now, and it’s a hoot to see some of the bands perform. Alvin Lee tears it up in a way that Ten Years After never seemed to capture on record, and seeing super acts go for it (the Who, Hendrix and other legends, like … Sha Na Na?! … is cool. Gimme Shelter, on the other hand, illustrates the underside of classic rock, where the Stones end up hiring the Hells Angels to act as security for the free Altamont concert, and the bikers end up killing Meredith Hunter, his murder being kind of the centerpiece of the film. A sometimes difficult movie to watch, it documents the official end of the Summer of Love stuff in California, and shows what class A assholes the Stones can sometimes be.
Does anyone like That Thing You Do besides me? Tom Hanks is cool in this one, and Liv Tyler does a bang up job, too. Hanks, who plays the professional manager of a one-hit wonder band called, well, The Wonders, tells the songwriter what he wants in the next song and delivers one of the best lines in rock film history: “I don’t want any of this lover’s lament crap. I want something peppy, something happy, something up tempo. I want something snappy.” Me, too! Anyway, the story follows The Wonders, a fictional band set in the early 60s who are touring around the country in a rock ‘n roll show featuring a bunch of other acts. The thrill of seeing their record on vinyl, hearing it played on the radio for the first time, and the ultimate pull of real life for the band members are all captured with sweetness, affection and realism. And the song itself, a made for the movies number, is very catchy. I like this one even though it is sometimes a bit too bubblegummy for me.
I was never really able to get into the big-time concert films. Sure, like the other teenage lemmings, I went and saw Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains The Same, the Stones Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, etc. I’m sorry to say that none of these really are good enough to recommend, although a lot of people like The Wall. I just don’t like Pink Floyd all that much.
There is a good one called It Might Get Loud that features three guitarists discussing their craft and bouncing ideas and creative musings off of each other. It features Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, The Edge of U2, and Jack White of The White Stripes. You come away with a new appreciation for how each one developed a signature sound, how skilled they are as musicians, and how they go about making music. Jack White is wicked weird, but cool, too. The Edge is an interesting enough bloke, and Page is simply a legend. A creep, too, but a legend nonetheless. It’s worth the 1.5 hours.
I’m not a huge Eagles fan, but I like some of their songs well enough, particularly New Kid In Town (that’s a joke). A friend told me that I would like the documentary about them, and on one night at home while flipping through the cue on Netflix, we went for it. Well, I will say that my buddy was correct. This is one entertaining documentary that tells the story of a band that was HUGE in the 70s and 80s. Even if you don’t like them, well, trust me on this one. A good way to waste some time hanging out on the couch in suburban America.
I’m going to end Part Two right there. I mean, how can it get any better than the Eagles? Desperados, I’ve finally come to my senses, and now have a peaceful easy feeling about the entire movie thing. No more life in the fast lane for us today. In fact, I’m already gone.
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.