This weekend Metallica Through the Never gets a wide release, so what better time to mention a couple of my favorite films revolving around music or where music is an integral part of the story? No better time! Wow, did I really need to answer that? Guess not. Anyways, as always these are just five of many films about music I love and appreciate, I didn’t rank them because I don’t like that: Bla bla bla, the usual stuff. Also: No, I couldn’t make a list of favorite astronaut movies if I tried, sorry Gravity fans. Back to music!
5. The Double Life of Veronique (1991, Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Actually, I prefer Three Colors: Blue as far as Kieslowski films about music go, but I’ve recently mentioned the film when discussing my five favorite trilogies, so I don’t want to repeat myself too much. Also, I just really want to give a shout out to this film which is not as talked about. La double vie de Veronique (original title) is a stunning piece, a delight to look at (much like Irène Jacobs’ lovely face) and a pleasure for the ears. Composer Zbigniew Preisner outdoes himself once more if you can believe it. The story is not exactly new with the whole doppelgänger thing, but when it was released Hollywood hadn’t caught on to it yet, so I can imagine the concept being fresh at the time. I wish I could have seen it then, but still this is a great film with fantastic photography, stellar performances and of course great music.
4. The Last Days of Disco (1998, Whit Stillman)
This is my favorite Whit Stillman film. Yes, it’s about music and disco, but at the end of the day like all of his films it’s about bourgeois kids, bohemian girls and dandies. The best scene of the film is when Josh (Matt Keeslar) makes an incredibly heartfelt speech about how disco will never die. I also love Chloë Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale as the two leading ladies. However the best part of course is the Whit Stillman’s witty dialogue and his quirky humor, the character’s little idiosyncrasies and the small intimate moments they share with each other. Plot and story are really secondary in a film like this one, still the fact that I don’t remember much of it means that it’s due for a re-watch.
3. Last Days (2005, Gus Van Sant)
As a big fan of Gus Van Sant’s work, I feel that this is one of his most under-appreciated films. Why might that be? Gee, I wonder. No, actually it’s very simple. People have increasingly short attention spans, myself included, so whenever a “slower paced” film comes along it sadly goes unnoticed (like Sofia Coppola’s Somwhere). Anyways, Last Days is about Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s last days, even if officially it’s about some guy named “Blake”. Michael Pitt stars as “Blake” and easily delivers a career best performance. It’s also worth noticing that the film was shot by Harris Savides (RIP), who collaborated with Van Sant on several pictures and is a particularly fitting choice here since the film needed an almost documentarist approach. All in all a very depressing, but extremely rewarding experience.
2. Jennifer’s Body (2009, Karyn Kusama)
Now, this might seem like an odd choice, but bear with me. Produced by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, Jennifer’s Body is a stylish horror/comedy film about a young girl (Megan Fox) who is sacrificed to the devil by a band hoping to achieve commercial success. Unfortunately for the guys the girl for the sacrifice needs to be a virgin, which Megan Fox’ character hasn’t been in a while. This is one of my favorite horror films and the music in it is very catchy, the writing is sharp and funny and the performances are better than you’d think. The film is very much about music and the notion that certain bands claim to have made a “deal with the devil” to sell a lot of records. The film’s biggest feat is that it manages to balance horror and comedy, which is not an easy task, like at all.
1. The Runaways (2010, Floria Sigismondi)
Another odd pick. Seemingly. At first. Maybe. The Runaways is about the homonymous first all female punk band in California, their rise and fall to success. Kirsten Stewart and Dakota Fanning play the two women who formed the band, Joan Jett and Cherie Currie and they do a fantastic job. As far as biopics go, this is definitely one of the best, because it’s also a coming-of-age story and a story about friendship and all that. So in this case as well, it’s more than just the music and paradoxically that’s the key to making a good film about music. The lovely young actresses also did their own singing and comparing it to the original recordings I have to say that it is most impressive. A good film I felt is worth mentioning because not many people have seen it or know about it: The Runaways.