By AARON RICHARDSON
1. “This is Spinal Tap,” 1984, directed by Rob Reiner.
“Spinal Tap” is the single greatest rock and roll movie of all time. A comedy mockumentary about four aging, bloated, overpaid rockers attempting to revive their career, it is a spot-on lampoon of heavy metal culture.
Lines like “these go to 11,” “I call this one ‘Lick My Love Pump’” and “You can’t really dust for vomit,” combined with wild hairdos, malfunctioning sets and cockney accents, these lines solidify “Spinal Tap’s” metal credentials. Even the very bands that “Spinal Tap” mocks, like Metallica and Anthrax, love the movie for being so dead-on accurate.
2.“The Last Waltz,” 1978, directed by Martin Scorsese.
For those of you into more serious good times, check out this definitive concert movie. The Band, made famous by backing Bob Dylan in the ‘60s, decided that they had had enough of touring by 1978.
As a send-off they enlisted the talent of Scorsese to document their final show.
With performances by the likes of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell and Ronnie Hawkins, the soundtrack is the movie. The Band also plays some of its own tunes, like “Up On Cripple Creek” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”
Combined with interviews with The Band about their 20-year touring history, the movie is a stunning display of rock and roll royalty at their best. Deciding not to see this movie would be doing yourself a great disservice.
3. “Almost Famous,” 2000, directed by Cameron Crowe.
This movie combines several key elements: 1) The hotness of Kate Hudson, Zooey Deschanel and Jason Lee. 2) A classic rock soundtrack of epic proportions. 3) Grass-roots rock journalism in the early days of Rolling Stone. 4) Asinine rock ‘n roll antics involving drugs, girls, swimming pools and beer.
Not only that, “Almost Famous” has a love story, a coming of age story, and an anti-rock over-protective mother played by a scarily accurate Frances McDormand. This movie basically does everything really well, and makes you feel all warm and squishy inside. Which can be good or bad, depending on what you’re into.
4.“Wayne’s World,” 1992, directed by Penelope Spheeris
Everyone knows what happens, right? Wayne and Garth, Zeppelin-obsessed suburban best friends, run a cable access show out of one of their parents’ basements. They talk about Claudia Schiffer’s finer points (“Schhawiing!”), Totally Amazing Excellent Discoveries, and, most importantly, hair metal.
The plot isn’t important. What is important is that they head bang to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” in an AMC Pacer nicknamed the Mirth Mobile. They worship girls and say things like “I mean, Led Zeppelin didn’t write tunes that everyone liked, they left that to the BeeGees.”
5. “Some Kind of Monster,” 2004, directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
Members of Metallica argue, bitch, whine, sulk, record songs in different studios to avoid contact with each other, go to group therapy, fire their therapist for theatrics’ sake, kiss and make up for the sake of making more money, look like businessmen rather than rock stars and sell out.
It’s real-life “Spinal Tap,” but it isn’t nearly as funny. Not when the characters are real-life assholes and they aren’t making jokes.