April 10, 2005

10 best rock movies.

Here's the AFI list of the ten best rock movies ever made. (Do I have to say "via Blogdex"? I got the link via Blogdex, but I'm irked at Blogdex for not tracking my blog. I've tried reentering my blog address and even emailing them -- more than once! -- but they never pick up my links. They never answer the email either.)

[CORRECTION: It's not the AFI's list, but a really good list by a music critic. Sorry. The AFI is mentioned in the article, and they do have their lists. This isn't one of them.]

One thing about the list is that the only movie on it I haven't seen is the one they place first, "Almost Famous." I've never cared about seeing that. It's always looked to me to be mainly about how cute Kate Hudson is. But since I don't at all respond to the putative cuteness of Kate Hudson -- not positively anyway -- I've steered clear.

Of the remaining nine, I even have seven on DVD. I don't have "Hail, Hail Rock and Roll," because it's not available on DVD, and I don't have "The Rutles," because frankly, it's not very good. I remember when it first came out. It was just a TV movie. We loved both The Beatles (who were being spoofed) and Monty Python (who did the spoofing), but we could barely sit through it. It just wasn't very funny. The closest thing to funny is that the John character is named Nasty. "The Rutles" is nothing compared to "This Is Spinal Tap."

I looked over my DVDs to see what I'd suggest that wasn't on the list. I have "The Filth and the Fury," but it's not all that great, and "Sid and Nancy" is already on the list and much better. The one I'd suggest is "Nico Icon," and I thought to write that before it occurred to me how underrepresented women are on this list. Women are underrepresented in rock music, of course, but to have the only significant women characters on the list be groupies -- the Kate Hudson character and Nancy Spungen -- is a bit galling, especially considering that one of the greatest of all rock stars is Madonna and she really did make a great movie ("Truth or Dare").

UPDATE: Writing a lot and publishing instantaneously and without an editor, I still work hard at cutting verbosity. I regret missing the last two words of that phrase "the ten best rock movies ever made." How did that idiotic usage get started? There's no possibility of ranking movies that have not been made. I suppose it's an alternative to "of all time." Which is a stupid thing to say about movies generally and rock movies especially.


Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Madonna is also good in the 1985 DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN. She was cast, as was Rosanna Arquette, because director Susan Seidelman wanted to keep her budget down by working with newcomers! As with her hit songs, Madonna's first movie was her best. ("Borderline" was her first hit song.)

Ann Althouse said...

I was thinking about that movie as I wrote this post, but I don't think it counts as a rock movie. Seidelman's "Smithereens" is more of a rock movie. I think some people would say Madonna shouldn't even count as a rock star.

Piglet said...

I can see why you would think that about Almost Famous. All the promo material centres around Kate Hudson, but the movie isn't really about her character. It's more a semi-autobiographical film based on about Cameron Crowe's coming of age as a teenaged rock journalist on the road with Led Zeppelin and their hangers on. I think you'd enjoy it. Don't let Kate put you off ;-D

Gerry said...


I don't think this is the AFI list-- I think it is Corey Levitan's.

"While I agree with most of AFI's choices -- "Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense," "Pass the Mic!," "Don't Need You," "Madonna: Truth or Dare" "Punk: Attitude," "Malfunkshun" -- I'd like to suggest a few for your own rock film festival.

I've widened the parameters to include not only documentaries but any movie celebrating rock music. All but one of my picks are available at your local video store."


Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Gerry. I've done a correction. This does come across as a little personal, which is probably why I agreed with so much of it. The AFI might not consider "Meet the Rutles" to be a movie at all.

Piglet: I knew the movie was about Crowe's experience but I couldn't disconnect that from the love story, which didn't interest me.

Bill Millan said...

The original one was "Rock around the clock," in 1956. It was such a smash that they made a sequel, "Don't knock the Rock." Both of these featured Alan Freed, Bill Haley and The Comets, Ernie Freeman Combo with The Platters, Freddie Bell and his Bellboys, Tony Martinez. A talent scout discovers Haley's Comets, launches their career and turns the world onto rock and roll! Songs include "See You Later, Alligator," "Razzle Dazzle," "Rudy's Rock," "Rock Around The Clock," "The Great Pretender," "Only You" and many others.

These movies may be a little quaint for you, but I loved them for the dancing. They used the best "Lindyhoppers" [original jitterbug] in Hollywood for them, and called it the "new rock and roll dance."

David Manus said...

Bah- Almost Famous is a self-serving hagiographic piece of crap the writer/director used to push his own bogus myth. I don't care if it is based on 'real rockstars'. Plus the G-rated cleanup he did on the groupies in that movie make it invalid in my book.

"That Thing You Do", although kind of overlooked is a lot more fun. The Commitments was cool too.

Madonna is no rock star. She's a popstar, and there's a world of difference. She's a celebrity. That's not a rock star, which is usually a musician or singer who actually has chops, not hype and glory.

Hollywood is always so desperately behind the curve on popular music that its difficult for them to hit anything hip until five-ten years later and then they bastardize it.

I was in rockworld myself in the late 80's early 90's so I have some perspective on this.

Adam said...

Put me on the side of those who love Almost Famous, though, to be sure, while it's great coming of age story, it's a very male one.

Kate Hudson isn't the point of the movie; Patrick Fugit, the Crowe stand-in is, and Frances McDormand, as his mother, steals the show. Without question. Even Jimmy Fallon is good in this movie.

George said...

Thanks for mentioning "Smithereens," the best punk movie because it is about the punks and not the musicians. And absolutely "That Thing You Do." How was that left out? The one I missed most though was "Decline and Fall of Western Civilization (pt. 1). Aside from the music, the lines: "I mainly hang out with myself," "Because I don't like mailmen (context required)" and so many more...

Ann Althouse said...

George: Thanks for mentioning "Decline and Fall... Part 1." I love that. "Decline ... Part 2" is also good, and worth it just to get the historic first glimpse of how funny Ozzy Osbourne is in his kitchen. Him pouring the orange juice is one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

Zone-5 said...

Any comments on whether "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is a rock movie?