I’m Not There
I’m Not There is a biopic with a difference that is a clever (if not seemingly pretentious) presentation of the life of Bob Dylan. The film uses six different actors, people of different ages, races and genders to play him in order to portray the scope of the man’s musical career. It uses similar elements within its story, mixing fact and fiction and relying on metaphors to portray the story, almost like a dreamy version of his career. This film is an excellent tribute and fair representation of Dylan’s work, not only does it contain some of his greatest hits but it also showcases the versatility of his songs, just like it’s actors.
Filmmaker Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical story of a boy pulled into the rock scene of the 1970s has become one of the most genuine takes on the rock movie genre going. It’s a coming of age story that hits many of the usual beats but also deals with the perils of meeting one’s idols. It has all the disappointments of growing up covered, after all isn’t that what rock is really all about? Despite this it’s a film with heart and still manages to look back on the era with loving nostalgia. Just to top it all off the performances are top notch, most notably Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of Creem editor Lester Banks.
This is Spinal Tap
At the top of the list there can be no other, not only the best rock film ever made but one of the greatest comedy films in history. This is Spinal Tap is a mockumentary that follows the painfully believable rock band known as Spinal Tap and their music tour. The film was directed by Rob Reiner and stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer as three rock stars with very little going on upstairs. Though situations were scripted dialog was heavily improvised and performers really did their research, helping to create some of the most hilarious quotes in film history (Turn it up to 11). Though a work of fiction there has never been a rock movie truer than This is Spinal Tap and that’s why if you only see one film on this list, make it this one.
Honourable Mention: Yellow Submarine
I couldn’t finish this list without giving an honourable mention to another of The Beatles’ cinematic entries, the animated film Yellow Submarine. Released in 1968, it tells the surreal story of the bands attempt to save Pepperland from an eerie army of music hating Blue Meanies. The art style of the film has since been intrinsically linked to the era, British rock and roll and of course the acid trips that are associated with the era. The film is considered to be one of the first times that animation was used as a serious art form and has inspired many well-known cartoons since, perhaps with the most prominent being Cartoon Networks hit series Powerpuff Girls, which even saw Ringo himself creating a song for it.