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November 18, 2009

Owl Meat's (belated) Tipsy Tuesday: Music + movies = awesome


It might not be Tuesday anymore, but "Owl Meat's Tipsy Wednesdays" just doesn't have the same ring to it. Better late than never, right?

Here, Midnight Sun guest columnist Owl Meat Gravy takes us on a tour through some of the best music movies out there. Are you ready? I am. Let's go:

Movies: great.

Music: great.

Movies about music: awesome.

Below is a baker's dozen of music movies that bubble up in my brain now and then. I'm not saying these are the best movies ever, just some that are stuck in my gray matter ...

"DiG!" (2004) – The Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols implode and explode. Documentary of two promising bands, their friendship and rivalry, and their divergent paths.
"This Is Spinal Tap" (1984) – It goes to eleven.
"Once" (2006) – The story of two musicians who come together for a week in Dublin. It gracefully weaves their music into their story in a compelling, non-contrived manner. Very romantic.
"Metallica: Some Kind of Monster" (2004) – This follows Metallica from 2001 to 2003 as they spiral into an anti-rock and roll lifestyle. Their live-in therapist subjects them to a nine-to-five schedule and makes then talk about their feelings. The therapy sessions are priceless and include former member and Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine. Masters of puppets? More like masters of hugs.
"The Filth & The Fury" (2000) – The Sex Pistols' great live performances make them seem like wizards of raw power. Johnny Rotten seems possessed by some crazy, clever animal.
"Control" (2007) – Grim black-and-white, heart-breaking story of Joy Division. We see a beautiful depiction of bleakest Manchester in the '70s. Knowing that singer Ian Curtis would hang himself just as they broke in America makes the characters' optimism poignant.
"Superstar" (1987) – This 43-minute biography of Karen Carpenter by Todd Haynes is acted with Barbie dolls. What could have been silly and gimmicky ends up being a haunting portrait of an American tragedy. The film was pulled from release after Richard Carpenter sued Haynes for failure to get legal clearance for the Carpenters' songs.
"Viva Las Vegas" (1964) – Ludicrous Elvis movie. Ann-Margret dancing in black Capri pants and heels leaves an impression on a boy.
"Topsy-Turvy" (1999) – Director Mike Leigh makes a great film about a topic I dislike: Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operas. I came to mock, but I stayed to rock, well, be fancifully entertained.
"The Pawnbroker" (1964) – Quincy Jones' score is so powerful that it becomes almost a narrator in this bleak black-and-white drama.
"Fantasia" (1940) – This is so far ahead of its time, both in ambition and as a psychedelic precursor. I saw it at the Baltimore Imax theater. Ka-pow!
"West Side Story" (1971) – Finger snapping gang dance-fighting.

"CS Blues" (1972) – Robert Frank's documentary of the Rolling Stones follows them on their 1972 tour that supported "Exile on Main Street". The hedonism and drug use is so unflattering that the band prevented the film's release. The grainy black and white cinéma vérité is a revelation and the music is amazing.
Here is a list
of 200 music movies to tickle your memory. I invite you to supply your own lists and throw tomatoes at mine.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:01 AM | | Comments (53)
Categories: Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays


From my gray matter:

I'm Not There
Walk The Line
Almost Famous
That Thing You Do!
O Brother Where Art Thou
Rock Star

I think I Walk the Line was a great movie, but I knew the story already.

Downloaded I'm Not There, haven't watched yet.

Oh Brother is great.

BTW "CS Blues" is an abbreviated title, since the full title is unprintable. Google will give you the full title.

Now you will now how strange i am:
It's a toss up between:


Across The Universe

Camelot : A favorite childhood memory, and hearing the music brings me to a "magical" good feeling place..

A T U : I am a total Beatles fan and loved this soundtrack.. Dear Prudence? I am the Walrus? Hey Jude?
It was awesome.

Not strange at all SG. Now I will hear Across the Universe when I see your Twitter field of Italian sunflowers foto.

I think a lot of musicals are stuck in my head because they got played every year on TV before cable when we just had three network channels and some lame UHF channels.

For those of you who don't know, cable came really late to Baltimore. I think I got wired on U Pkwy in 1989 or 1990. Yeah, really late.

So if I'm honest, I would admit to having seen these multiple times having lived in a single TV house where my parents controlled the remote; Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz, West Side Story, all the christmas stuff.

I dare you to listen to the music in any Charlie Brown special and be happier.

New York Doll (it's a shame about Killer Kane)

Kill Your Idols (oh my...great movie about anti-music)

Another State Of Mind (See Mike Ness as a glam-punk before he went macho-rockabilly)

The Commitments (What? The Irish have soul?)

CB4 (Oh Chris Rock. What a great way to really meet you.)

The Harder They Come (my wife needed a translator for this one)

The Decline of Western Civilization (all three parts, but part one is the essential one)

Hated (but tread lightly on this one. G.G. is not a fun person to watch when squeamish)

Groove and/or Human Traffic (both similar, except for the location)

My mouth. It is agape. You all need to watch THE LAST WALTZ.


Ah, the sound of those opening keys on the Charlie Brown musical score.. always! makes me really smile, priceless..

good one OM GOS ...

Great list Odie B. Thanks.

I love that we have none in common, but I would definitely like to see some of them. Some I've never heard of and will check out.

I don't smoke (anything), but really liked Pootie Tang. Is that weird?

My purpose this week was to share some lesser films and, learn about some new ones.

So bring it, Midsters.

"Downloaded I'm Not There, haven't watched yet."


I really get the sense that it's a 'love-it-or-hate-it' kind of movie. You have to be able to appreciate artsy/abstract films and be a Dylan fan already in order to enjoy it. I think the neat thing about the movie is that while it's semi-biographical and semi-fictitious, a lot of the references aren't just to his life but to characters and imagery from his songs.

I'm pretty sure that if I didn't know anything about Dylan's life AND his lyrics/storytelling, I would have hated the movie.

Jesus Christ Super Star

The music score from the Good the Bad and the Ugly

Anything Burt Bacharach does.

The sound track for Bernard, You're a Big Boy Now, "darling be home Soon Lovin' Spoonful.

Hedwig and the angry inch

Also, for those who love the music from the Charlie Brown specials, Wynton Marsalis did an album a few years back (mid 90's) of Peanuts tunes. Granted, you probably should be (at least) a small fan of jazz already, since, well, it's Wynton Marsalis, but some of the songs are pretty straightforward and are enjoyable either way.

actually in theaters now is Pirate Radio, which i saw friday and i thought was a ton of fun. true story of illegal dj's off the coast of the UK in the 60's

also off the top of my head:

-Beatles anthology
-stop making sense (talking heads live)
-meeting people is easy (radiohead doc on their ok computer tour)
-high fidelity
-the devil and daniel johnston (documentary on a cult singer/songerwiter from the late 80's early 90's and his battle with major psychological issues)

Seen The Last Waltz. I thought of it immediately as the best (or one of) concert movies ever but it didn't change my world.

Thanks SG, now I have sunflowers and ATU in my head, which is better than what was there before: Rainy Days and Mondays. Yikes.

I'm open to experimental films and know all of Dylan's incarnations so I will probably like it. Thanks for the reminder.

'Round Midnight

Dexter Gordon in the role of a tenor sax player in 1950s Paris. Beautiful, funny, weary, and sad.

"They're always paying all the wrong people in this world."

I greatly prefer Stop Making Sense to The Last Waltz. I kind of just don't love The Last Waltz.

The Rutles
Empire Records
The Big Chill
Beyond the Valey of the Dolls

Crossroads (the one with the Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio in it) is a great movie.

& without doubt, The Blues Brothers belongs towards the top of mountain in this category

"Crossroads (the one with the Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio in it) is a great movie."


Ha, I haven't seen that in years. The indisputable highlight was seeing Steve Vai play the devil.

Walk Hard.

Not once did you pay for drugs.

Crossroads with Ralph Macchio: just awful. Hey let's go look for robert johnson's lost chord. Okay, I hope i meet jamie gertz along the way. That movie made me want to punch the tv. i heard that Ry Cooder played Macchio's guitar parts. Now I'm conflicted.

The Last Waltz seems so dated. Stop Making Sense doesn't. It's a great concert movie that faithfully presents the Talking Heads' stage show at the time.

No Tommy or The Wall. Come on! I got my black light and velvet barbarian poster out and everything! MAN... Speaking of barbarian, Heavy Metal maybe... Lava lamps...

Not necessarily movies about music, but 3 movies with music:


South Park, the movie

Team America, World Police

// The Last Waltz seems so dated. Stop Making Sense doesn't. It's a great concert movie that faithfully presents the Talking Heads' stage show at the time. //

Fair point, but TLW is still incredible. I mean, Scorsese, for godsakes! It's visually stunning, and the pure energy of that show is unbelievable. (Granted, much of it was coke-fueled, but still...)

I'm a huge Band fan, obviously, but even after learning about the unsavory back story of that movie, it's still in my top 5 of all time.

I maintain that if you don't get a charge from a pudgy, purple-suited Van Morrison leg-kicking his way through "Caravan," you are probably deceased.

p.s. I also love Stop Making Sense. Just not as much as Last Waltz.

And Walk Hard is absolutely hilarious.

As much as I like (and appreciate) Stop Making Sense, I've also got to throw my vote behind "The Last Waltz." Remember that scene where Scorcese asks Rick Danko what they're going to do after the band breaks up and Danko breaks down?

I became a huge Band fan after seeing TLW. It's been so so long since I've seen it. Too bad I would never be able to see them live.

How funny is Rob Reiner's parody of Scorcese in TLW in Spinal Tap? Marty DeBergi. Not subtle. If TLW inspired Spinal Tap which inspired so any other comedies, then it gets extra points.

Has nobody seen "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart"? It's the film in which Wilco almost breaks up, fires perhaps their most talented musician, loses their record deal, and in the meantime records one of their most solid albums. There's also a great little scene of Jeff Tweedy singing a song called "Bob Dylan's Beard." Check it out, suckas.

Also, if you watch the Last Waltz, don't forget that the film should be played loud.

Last Waltz got me more into the Band, which led me to Dylan's Basement Tapes and Music from Big Pink. That was one of his most interesting periods. I don't think Dylan ever collaborated with a real band like that before. Real synergy.

My two cents...

"Once" is one of the best movies of the last ten years, imo. A realistic musical.

I think "Control" is less about music than it is about watching a jerk for two hours.

And no love for "Shine A Light"? I don't care that the Stones are past their prime, the film looks and sounds incredible.

Paul, I saw the trailer for "Shine a Light," but never sat down and saw the movie. Is it really that good?

SCORCESE: "What about women on the road?"

RICHARD MANUEL (NOT MISSING A BEAT): "I love 'em! That's probably why we've been on the road. Not that I don't love the music..."

LEVON HELM (SHRINKING FROM CAMERA): "I thought we weren't supposed to get into that too much, maybe talk about something else...?"

CUT TO: Joni Mitchell, "Coyote"


No one mentioned Cadillac Records. Great Movie, gave me a deep appreciation for the Blues.


Mozart struggling to finish writing the Requiem as he's dying.

Confutatis maledictis
Flammis acribus addictis,
Voca me cum benedictis.

"Hustle & Flow"

Everybody gotta have a dream.

Laura Lee: Hustle and Flow? Livin' large in the burbs?

Musically I think the Stones were at their peak for Main Street. You can see them in CS Blues as the band they would become in the 70s and still loose and looking like they were big kids playing together. Brilliant. Plus it's before Keith became a cartoon. It's funny, Charlie looks like the leader of the band, thinking to himself, "When are these boys gonna become a proper band?".

CSB isn't banned like Superstar, but it isn't available commerically. You can find it via bit torrent, which may or may not be legal, depending upon whether the director has cleared it.

Yes, "Once" is a truly great movie.

even after learning about the unsavory back story of that movie, it's still in my top 5 of all time.

Details Chris, details.

How about the Blues Brothers? Just keeeding

I trust no list that ranks School of Rank #13 and Fear of a Black Hat at #84. Fear of a Black Hat is the movie CB4 ripped off, methinks.

LB, I didn't say that was a good list (it isn't), just a list. You would think that 200 music movies would cover a lot more ground. You could probably make a list of 1000. And no Bollywood! I still have a headache from Bride and Prejudice.


Great piece as always. The site's list was inclusive, but the order was wildly jumbled.

Interstellar 5555. The Daft Punk album Discovery set to the backdrop of anime style story artwork. No dialogue, just the album from start to finish, like on the rails of say The Wall (previously mentioned).

Thanks LB, I'm really happy that I came up with something people wanted to comment on and interact. That's always more fun. Plus I learned some things.

In honor of the visitation of St Bruce, its worth mentioning the Southside Johnny and the Jukes' appearance in 1977s's forgotten "Between The Lines".
The Jeff Goldblum dialogue about how to choose a bootleg vinyl record is somehow timeless...
Rock on, Owsley Mantra Guru.

Grease - I can't help it, but not Grease II

Saturday Night Fever - you know you love it

I like all those old Hollywood movies where people spontaneously break into song. I think we would all be much happier if we did that. Or people would get killed. Unsure

High School Musical

// Details Chris, details. //

Well, long story short, Levon Helm hated the movie, and saw it as Robbie using the band (and everyone else) to promote his nascent film career. It's pretty common knowledge that Robbie was the only member of The Band who wanted to break it up, and Levon was and is pretty resentful of it. He claims that nobody from The Band - except Robbie Robertson - has ever seen a penny from that movie. He also claims that Robbie unfairly took sole songwriting credit for many songs - a good example being Chest Fever, for which Robbie wrote the words, but not the melody; Levon's point is, who even knows the words to that song without looking them up?

Robbie has answers for all of those charges, but the controversy does leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

"Shine A Light" is definitely worth a rental. A all-star team of cinematographers shot it for Scorsese.

Great info. Robbie Robertson was listed as Producer, so his piece of TLW would have been bigger than the rest. And he was sharing, or would soon after share, a house in LA in Scorsese. It does feel RR-centric, or at least lean that way, iirc.

Shine a Light? I saw that 20 years ago. It was cute and catchy but hardly worth making a full length movie.

I had high expectations for I'm Not There, but after an hour I am dying of boredom. I think Haynes is a brilliant director and I am very familiar with all of Zimmy's music and life phases, but I'm just not connecting. Maybe I'm too familiar. I will soldier on.

Wave Twisters is also worth checking out in the same vein as tmwsiy's post.

DJ Q-bert the turntable wizard's album of the same name set to animation. Good stuff.

And on the subject of Q-bert, Scratch was a great documentary on turntablism.

My mistake, that was a California Raisins ad, teeheeeeeeee

Guess I’m the BOF here as it seems no mentioned “A Hard Days' Night“.

"Mahogany" if you can accept a blend of fact and fiction account of Billie Holiday's life.

take a bite,
let's be good to the California Raisins, the late Buddy Miles performed the vocals.
The California Raisins - I Heard It Through the Grapevine

Urgh! A Music War is an interesting snap of the late 70's - early 80's performances by punk rock, New Wave, and post-punk acts.
XTC - Respectable Street
Devo - Uncontrollable Urge
Pere Ubu - Birdies (Urgh! A Music War)
Wall of Voodoo - Back In Flesh

Regarding The Rolling Stones,
the song in question can be found in several versions on YouTube, natch.

let's be good to the California Raisins, the late Buddy Miles performed the vocals.

Wow. I vote for this as most surprising fact on this thread.

I remember loving Breaking Glass with Hazel O' Conner but I haven't been able to find it in years.

May be the best performance in the whole life.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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