Music films, like sports films, can suffer as an actor is not a musician. Against that you can rely on a good score. Here are 10 of my favourites:
1. Spinal Tap 1984 Rob Reiner
Rock music is not noted for either its humour or self-criticism but this film achieves both, an achingly funny mockumentary on the fateful comeback tour of a rock group.
2 Bueno Vista Social Club 1999 Wim Wenders
An up beat life-enhancing film by Wim Wenders did more for world music than anything else … and those musicians ploughing their furrow and achieving superannuated stardom.
3 A Hard Days Night 1964
Dick Lester’s film. At least the Beatles music has not aged.
4 Interrmezzo 1939 Gregory Ratoff
Leslie Howard and Ingrid Bergamn star in a daring film for its time, on a violonist’s marital infidelity when he falls for his daughter’s music teacher.
5 The Page Turner 2006 Denis Dercourt
One of my favourite young actresses, Deborah Francois, plots her revenge when, as young girl, a judge disrupts her exam test for the conservatory. The director is a musician and the film, whilst short on plot, is big on musical content.
6 The Pianist 2002 Roman Polanski
Many prefer Roman Polanski’s, a Holocaust survivor, film to Schindler’s List for a more authentic view of the Warsaw Ghetto, seen through the eyes of a pianist.
7 Nashville 1975 Robert Altman
Robert Altman’s elegiac view of a musical festival is long but still wears well.
8 Song of Summer 1968 Ken Russell
I found Ken Russel’s later works on classical composers grossly indulgent and he acknowledges his life of Delius as his best biography. Ken Russell stars himself as the philandering priest.
And now 2 excellent documentaries recommended by regular contributor Tim Young:
9 Searching for the Sugarman 2102 Maliki Benjelloul
An extraordinary story of a Detroit musician who has no interest in fame and unknown to him was a cult figure in apartheid South Africa .
10 Beware of Mr Baker 2012 Jay Bolger
No hagiography but a real insight into one of the great drummers as well as a polo-playing truculent man, who emerges as charmless as an East End hard man.