Editor’s Note: This post is presented in partnership with Time Warner Cable Movies On Demand in support of Indie Film Month. Today’s pick, “We Are Twisted Sister,“ is available now On Demand. Need help finding a movie to watch? Let TWC find the best fit for your mood here.
“This is Spinal Tap”
Technically a mockumentary, Rob Reiner’s “This is Spinal Tap” is still more than worthy to be on any and all lists about great rock docs. Hilarious antics and foul mouths from comedy all-stars like Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer are scattered throughout, but the film also works as an effective and striking satire of a (mostly) bygone era in musical history. The music isn’t half bad either.
The Maysles Brothers’ breakthrough picture, “Gimme Shelter” is a groundbreaking documentary that has long proven fascinating to both hardcore rock fans and documentary admirers (even better if you’re both). The revolutionary Direct Cinema style of the Maysles makes the viewer feel like we are rocking out at the Altamont Speedway with The Rolling Stones. The controversial elements of the film’s final minutes, including the death of concert-goer Meredith Hunter, are some of the most talked-about in cinema. While there is still some speculation about the legitimacy of the filmmaking process, some mysteries are best lost to time.
“Don’t Look Back”
The earliest film on this list, “Don’t Look Back” is consistently cited as the rock doc to end all rock docs. Lauded director D.A. Pennebaker had the opportunity to get truly intimate with Bob Dylan on one of his early UK tours and the documentarian made the most of it. Viewers get a great look at Dylan the performer, but an even more nuanced one at Dylan the man.
“The Decline of Western Civilization”
The “Decline of Western Civilization” series of films is a modern epic of Los Angeles musical history. The follow-ups that focus on metal and gutter punk are interesting looks at niche genre, but the first installment is a bonafide classic. Filmmaker Penelope Spheeris created a rare quality doc that did not simply focus on one artist, but captured an entire scene, featuring interviews with Black Flag and X, this grandiose film fully encompasses punk.
“Montage of Heck”
The latest Kurt Cobain doc is perhaps the most striking of a currently very large crop. It’s refreshing to see the film lay its focus on what made Cobain the man he was, instead of just focusing on his work with seminal band Nirvana. The first thirty minutes are the most heartbreaking, and given the circumstances of his death, may be hard to watch for some. If you are in the mood for a downer, it’s worth getting through for the relentless gut punches. And those animated sequences? Simply stellar.
“Shut Up and Play the Hits”
The LCD Soundsystem-focused “Shut Up and Play the Hits” falls into the well-worn trope of covering a legendary group long after their height of popularity while they play a big gig that has outsized stakes attached to it. It’s barely a full-fledged documentary, and is essentially a concert video, but it works better than it should for multiple reasons. First off, this really is a big gig with lots at stake, and LCD Soundsystem made sure their final show was one of epic proportions. The concert itself is also gorgeously shot and features guest appearances from Arcade Fire and comedian Reggie Watts.
“It Might Get Loud”
“It Might Get Loud” is an exercise in comparison. The styles and philosophy of Jimmy Page, Jack White and U2’s The Edge are all on display here, as the rock stars sit you down for a quieter kind of night. The film that follows the three legendary guitarists in conversation, and while it may not be the most rock n’ roll thing on this list, it certainly has its hardcore moments. At the very least, it’s impossible to forget Jack White’s finger-bleeding guitar shredding antics.
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