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10 films about music

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.









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About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts

3 Comments on 10 films about music

  1. Avatar photo National Rust Newsdesk // March 4, 2014 at 12:04 pm //

    To be honest, I’m pretty much content to accept Neil Rosen’s picks at face value, albeit I’d only seen about half of them – just Interrmezzo (1939 and The Page Turner (2006) from his list were totally beyond my knowledge. He carefully states that he was choosing 10 of his favourites, not 10 of ‘the greatest’, or ‘most influential’ or even ‘best musically’.

    My candidates for such a ‘favourites’ list would include Woodstock (1970) Michael Wadleigh, The Commitments (1991) Alan Parker, The Last Waltz (1978) Martin Scorsese and Shine (1996) Scott Hicks.

    Another British candidate from the 1960s is Up The Junction (1968) Peter Collinson, starring Dennis Waterman and Suzy Kendall. It was unremarkable yet quite representative of the atmosphere of the time, but its main feature was a cracking score written and performed by the group Manfred Mann. I bought the album as soon as it came out and played it incessantly for about a year afterwards.

    Martin Roberts

  2. Avatar photo The National Rust // March 5, 2014 at 5:19 am //

    Other recommendations I have received are Fitzcarraldo, Round Midnight, High Fidelity,the Last waltz, Coal Miner’s Daughter , Walk the Line, Woodstock, the Blues Brothers..NR

  3. Avatar photo The National Rust // March 5, 2014 at 7:30 pm //

    Bird with Forrest Whittaker a bio pic of Charlie Parker is worthy of inclusion.

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