Rock and Roll is Here to Stay
Last week, hubby and I finally watched the latest Rainn Wilson movie, The Rocker.
Why did we let the DVD languish in its red Netflix envelope so long? Blame the previews which typically focused on the film's many raucous moments without giving a hint of its tender heart. Surprisingly enough (or not, by now you'd think I'd learn to ignore critics), the movie is rather sweet and the crazy-ass drummer played by Rainn is quite the redeeming character.
The plot is simple. A band on the verge of fame boots out the drummer who goes off to live a humdrum bitter life working in customer service and cursing his former bandmates. Shades of Pete Best, don't you think?
Except this band is heavy metal and the drummer gets a second chance to find fame and in the process, discover what 'greatness' is all about.
We began watching reluctantly and were cheering by the end. Go dude go!! *grin*
This made me think of other rock movies (not documentaries which is a whole 'nother blog post) that I've seen over the years. After some consideration I came up with a short list.
First up, Eddie and the Cruisers.
His dark, rebellious nature comes through the music and of course, the record company isn't pleased—the album is rejected and unreleased. A few hours later, Eddie's car crashes over a railing and though a body is never recovered, the magnetic lead singer of the Cruisers is thought to be dead. The movie is part flashbacks and part interviews in present time.
Wow. It's been years since I saw this movie yet I still remember being blown away. Part of me yearns to rewatch it but considering how dated some movies can seem down the line, another part refuses to let go of the wonder and awe I experienced way back when. Long live Eddie!!
Hmm. Perhaps my fear of shattering my fond memories of Eddie's flick stems from my recent viewing of Jailhouse Rock.
This was THE movie that inspired so many early rock groups, I was prepared to be blown away. Mind you, I'd watched many of the Elvis movies (once seen, who could ever forget the amazing dance scene with his 'soul twin' Ann Margaret in Viva Las Vegas?).
In Jailhouse Rock, Elvis plays a rebellious, sullen singer with petulant glee. In retrospect, his acting was laughably shallow and the movie was sadly a bit dated for me. However, I will say the actual Jailhouse Rock dance scene was freaking amazing. That alone made the movie worthwhile.
A bit of trivia from me: Most everyone knows Nic Cage is a HUGE Elvis fan (not a fan of huge Elvis, I mean…oh, you know what I mean!!). Anyways, about halfway through, there is a scene with him in the car and suddenly I could *see* Nicolas Cage. OMG! The dude totally absorbed his idol, The Elvis, and in a series of flashbacks, my mind flicked through various scenes where Nic channeled his favorite singer. Dude!
Now, The Rose was another story all together.
Bette Midler gives an astonishing performance. Loosely based on Janis Joplin's tragic life, the multitalented Bette offers a heartbreaking portrayal with songs that are practically guaranteed to give you shivers. If a tear doesn't well up, I owe you a glass of wine.
Another movie torn from real life is the more recent flick, Almost Famous.
A high school boy (who actually looks like some of the kids we went to school with) and aspiring reporter is given the opportunity of a lifetime—to interview and tour with his favorite band. WOW! Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, this is a semi-autobiographical story, as Cameron was a teenage writer for Rolling Stone. He picked up an Oscar for his efforts.
There's a lot of big names in this flick, among them Jason Lee, Kate Hudson (who snagged a Golden Globe), Billy Crudup, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Frances McDormand, Anna Paquin, and much to my surprise, Rainn Wilson. I loved this film and was just thinking the other day that it's time to rent this sucker and relive the moments.
Of course, one cannot do an article on rock movies without including the quintessential mockumentary, This Is Spinal Tap.
Director Rob Reiner blew the roof off with this one, helped in great part by the extraordinary talents of the cast and co-writers, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer. Not only did this largely improvised film capture the nuttiness and extravagance of the heavy metal generation, it truly epitomised the essence of rock-n-roll when guitarist, Nigel Tufnel,
proudly displays his custom-made amp that is much louder than traditional amps because "the numbers all go to eleven."
Personally, I have yet to meet a musician who at some point doesn't throw that line out when adjusting an amp. *laughs* You rock, Spinal Tap!
The last two movies are personal favorites of mine.
First, Tom Hanks gives a rocking tribute to the early sixties and all the kids who ever yearned to be in a band, with his movie, That Thing You Do!
Featuring Tom Everett Scott (looking very much like a young Tom Hanks) as the drummer, Shades, and the lovely Liv Tyler as the devoted girlfriend of the typical moody songwriter guitarist, the yummy Johnathon Schaech, this movie really delivers. Steve Zahn steals some of the best lines as Lenny the slightly sleazy (but always adorable) lead guitarist.
Okay, so it's predictable and sometimes even clichéd (the band, The Wonders, with their 'one hit'. Get it? D'oh!), I don't freaking care! Shut up, already! I love this flick from the many nods to the Beatles (the scene where the moody guitarist has a "Careful girls, he's engaged!" flashing on the screen during their first television appearance echoes the "Careful girls, he's married" message that centered on John Lennon) to the repeated performances of the hit song, "That Thing You Do!" Rock on! The boys in the film actually played their instruments and everytime I see it I feel good all over again.
Do check out this clip which seems based on both The Beatles and The Dave Clark Five's early appearances. And check out a very dapper Tom Hanks enjoying his own Brian Epstein moment.
"You guys look great in red. Have I told you that?"
To me, no piece on Rock and Roll movies could be complete without the grandmaster, and the one that really started it all: A Hard Day's Night.
This 1964 release by Richard Lester is a favorite among New York film students. The zany adventures of the little known moptops clinched their reign as The One And Only, The Beatles!
Just about everyone knows by now that the famous Patti Boyd, soon to be wife of George Harrison (and later the muse who not only inspired Layla and Wonderful Tonight, but became the future wife of Eric Clapton) first met Georgie-boy on the set of the movie. Here's a forty-second clip. She's the blonde with the page-boy 'do.
Few realize that much of the antics of the movie was inspired by The Beatles, The First U.S. Visit. A true documentary that proved that the boys were pretty darn irrepressible way before they had scripts to read from.
So, how about you? Any rock and roll movies that gave you a thrill? Let me know!
Also featured at The Write Soul: http://www.chironokeefe.blogspot.com/
Journeys of self-discovery in both women’s fiction and psychic suspense.As a toddler, Chiron O’Keefe knew exactly who she wanted to be—Casper the Friendly Ghost. Finding out such an option wasn't available to the living, she focused instead on creating a life filled with giggles and all things otherworldly. Her books reflect her passion for both the light and the dark. Whimsical stories with a touch of romance and shadowy tales that explore the hidden realms of the psyche. Her inspiration springs from a diverse background as a professional astrologer, singer-songwriter and comedy improvisational performer.
Avoiding the glare of the spotlight, she now dances on an inner stage, where dreams come to life. In addition to her novels, Chiron also pens motivational essays for writers, posted weekly on her blog, The Write Soul. When asked about her unusual name, she responded, “The name stems from Greek mythology, and very few people pronounce it correctly the first time. Phonetically, it’s Ky-ron. Don’t worry if you stumble, even my “Chiro-practor” gets it wrong!”