Music on Film

The Who
The Who, 1966

I don’t often talk about new cinema here at Cinebeats, but an exciting trend in modern filmmaking is occurring this year that is impossible to ignore. It seems like every month I read something about a brand new band documentary or biopic about the life (or lives) of a musician that’s being released. I’ve been posting a lot of news about these films over at Cinedelica in recent months, but I couldn’t resist sharing some info about them at Cinebeats too. Many of the bands and artists featured in these films are personal favorites who all started their careers in the sixties or mid-seventies, so I figured it wouldn’t be too off topic to share my enthusiasm for some of these new films here.

Scott Walker: 30 Century Man (2006)
Like many people, I’m fascinated with the talented and enigmatic Scott Walker. He started his career in the sixties as a great pop crooner, but his current and more experimental albums feature some of freshest and most exciting music I’ve heard in years. I’m really looking forward to seeing the documentary Scott Walker: 30 Century Man whenever it gets a proper theatrical release or finally makes it’s way onto DVD in the U.S. The film was actually released late last year and is available on DVD in the U.K., but it’s currently still playing the festival circuit in North America.
Official Site for Scott Walker: 30 Century Man


Official Trailer for Scott Walker: 30 Century Man (2006)

I’m Not There (2007)
It’s impossible to ignore the hype surrounding Todd Haynes’ new film I’m Not There, which is a biopic about the legendary Bob Dylan. I’ve been fascinated with Todd Haynes’ films since first seeing Poison way back in the early ’90s so I’m really looking forward to his latest effort. Haynes has never been a typical filmmaker interested in telling straightforward stories and I personally think his approach should work well for exploring the life of Bob Dylan. Reviews have been mixed, but Todd Haynes has always received mixed reviews for his work so I’m not surprised by the reactions his latest film is receiving. I’m Not There should officially open in November in selected theaters in the U.S.
Wikipedia page for I’m Not There (as far as I know there is no “official site”)


Official Trailer for I’m Not There (2007)

Control (2007)
As a teenager growing up in the ’80s it was impossible to overlook the work of talented photographer and director Anton Corbijn. The man created many amazing music videos and album covers for some of the best bands and artists of the period such as Depeche Mode, U2, Art of Noise, David Sylvian, Echo and The Bunnymen, Front 242, Morrissey and Joy Division. It’s only natural that Corbijn would be inspired to take his passion for music and focus it on making feature films. Hhis first feature-length movie is Control, a biopic about Joy Division’s tragic front man Ian Curtis. The early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive for the film and many have complimented its look, which isn’t a surprise since Anton Corbijn’s music videos have always been impressive to look at. Control is currently playing at many film festivals and should get a limited theatrical release sometime in October.
Offical site for Control


Official Trailer for Control (2007)

Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten (2007)
Another director who’s name should be familiar to anyone who grew up in the ’80s is Julien Temple and his latest film is a documentary about The Clash front man Joe Strummer, who passed away much too young in 2002. Besides creating some of the best music videos of the ’80s for artists like David Bowie, ABC, The Stray Cats, Culture Club, Depeche Mode and Duran Duran, Temple has also directed many good feature-length films and documentaries including The Great Rock And Roll Swindle (1980), Absolute Beginners (1986), The Filth and the Fury (2000) and Glastonbury (2006). Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten is currently playing the festival circuit and getting great reviews. Hopefully the film will get a wider release soon.
Official site for Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten


Official Trailer for Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten (2007)

Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who (2007)
Seeing The Clash perform live with The Who in the early ’80s was one of the best live performances I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing, and I’m happy to see that Joe Strummer and The Who are both the subjects of new documentaries this year. Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who was authorized by the remaining members of The Who (Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend) and claims to be the “definitive” documentary about the band so it should be an interesting film. Recent reviews coming out of the Toronto International Film Festival have been really positive. This two hour film is being released on DVD in November.
Official site for Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who


Official Trailer for Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who (2007)

Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Joy Division, The Clash and The Who are some of the greatest musical talents to come out of the sixties and seventies, so it’s wonderful to see that their work is still as vital as ever and inspiring filmmakers to take a deeper look at their lives and music. I really love music and good documentaries, and these are the new films that I’m most looking forward to seeing this year.

11 thoughts on “Music on Film

  1. AR says:

    Obviously I am still super looking foward to seeing the Scott Walker documentary. I read a review of it in Film Comment a few days ago that said it does venture into some fan-gushing, which could get irritating. I’m more interested in it as a window into his working methods.
    There was a really good article in Magnet last year that delved into his history, some details of which I was unaware of before.

    Looking foward to Haynes’s new one and I’m interested in the Ian Curtis biopic as well.

  2. Jonathan Lapper says:

    Thanks for the update on all the new music pics out there. And you can’t beat Roger’s pants in that pic. Rather than comment on each film I just have some random music related thoughts.

    *Whenever I here the opening acoustic chords of “Love will Tear Us Apart” I think of the Who’s “Pinball Wizard” – they sound exactly alike, but only for the opening.

    *I want Todd Haynes to do a doc on The Smiths called “Smith Listeners of the World Unite (and Take Over)” ’cause, you know, my only weakness is a listed crime.

    *Is there a college student from the eighties who doesn’t own “Substance”?

    *Julian Temple should do a doc on Mick Jones that explains how Big Audio Dynamite could have ever happened. Okay, I do like some of their stuff.

    *And why isn’t anyone filling the gap by doing a doc on Bauhaus? Full confession: I really liked Love and Rockets first album. I had the tape and wore it out.

  3. Ed Hardy, Jr. says:

    Hey Kimberly. This has nothing to do with this post; I didn’t know how else to contact you. This morning I humbly announced a poll/survey thingy (since Eddie On Film is done with his monumental project) for the 31 GREATEST HORROR FILMS, to be voted on by everybody who cares about such things and debuted on Halloween.

    Here’s a link to the post

    http://shoottheprojectionist.blogspot.com/
    2007/09/31-greatest-horror-films-survey.html

    I would love it if you would submit a list, if for no other reason than that I would run out and rent everything on it. At the risk of sounding like a sycophant, I have to say I greatly admire your taste in film.

  4. Keith says:

    I’m really excited by the Dylan one done by Todd Haynes. While I like Dylan’s music, it has more to do with Haynes. I’ve been a big fan of his, whether it’s been Poison, Velvet Goldmine (one of my favs), or Far From Heaven. Control should be really good. Been a fan of Joy Division since I can remember. I’m also looking forward to those on Joe Strummer (the Clash is one of the best bands of all time) and the Who (I love that pic – Roger rocks). This was a really cool blog about some music docs. Thanks for informing us about them. Rock on!

  5. Jeremy says:

    I am looking forward to all of these especially the one on The Who. I think the timing for it is perfect and it sounds like it is going to be a really open look at them. I am hoping the DVD features a longer running time as two hours is pretty slim for Pete and co.
    I have a hit and miss history with Todd Haynes but I am excited about his Dylan pic…I hope it does turn out to be as interesting as it sounds.
    Julien Temple is another director I have mixed feelings on but I wouldn’t think of missing a film on the great Strummer…
    The other two look great as well, although it has been years since I listened to Joy Division or Walker…they film’s look fascinating though.
    Thanks for the trailers and post….

  6. cinebeats says:

    Thanks for all the feedback. I’m happy to know you enjoyed my “modern movies meet musical acts” post!

    AR – Like you, I’m really looking forward to the Walker doc! Probably because info on him is hard to come by and I just really want to see what he has to say about breaking away from the industry, as well as hear him talk about his current music making/song writing process.

    Control is probably the film I most want to see, because I love Corbjin’s work as well as Joy Division’s music, and I’m really eager to see a full-length film from the man. Since Corbjin knew the band and worked with them when Ian was alive and clearly has a deep love for music, I think it could be a really interesting film.

    Jonathan – Thanks for the funny comments! I never made the Joy Division/Who connection before, but the next time I hear Pinball Wizard I’ll listen more carefully. I’d love to see a Bauhaus doc myself! The band would probably kill each other before it ever got released though. And last but not least, I liked some Big Audio Dynamite stuff myself, but I loved Love and Rockets (as well as Tones on Tail, and the bands numerous other side projects like Dali’s Car as well!). I’ve seen the band and it’s numerous incarnations/solo efforts a few times live and I’ve always been impressed. Bauhaus is easily one of my all-time favorite bands.

    Ed – If I wasn’t suffering list burnout I would participate, but as I mentioned in my previous post, all the list making I’ve done recently and earlier this year is really starting to wear on my nerves and burn me out. Horror is my favorite genre and picking 100 films would be really hard to do, much less just 31. I’m pretty sure my eclectic tastes would clash a bit with the other participants as it did with the recent Foreign Film list and I’d only end up with a handful of my selections of the list after putting hours of thought into it so I’m gonna have to pass. As for recommendations, you can check out my Eurotrash Top 10 which was put together earlier this year (and ended up turning into a Top 20). I mentioned a lot of my favorite ’60s-’70s era horror films there.

    Keith – I have to agree with you! I have much respect for Dylan and I love a lot of his music, but since Todd Haynes is one of my favorite modern filmmakers he’s really the main draw for me and the reason I really want to see I’m Not There. I love the way he plays with modern music mythology in films like Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story and the very underrated Velvet Goldmine so I’m sure his new film will be really interesting.

    ADA – Indeed!

    Jeremy – The Who doc sounds really good! I have mixed feelings about Temple’s work but I always find it interesting and I love Haynes films so I’m really looking forward to their latest efforts. If you haven’t heard any of Walker’s more recent music I really can’t recommend it enough! His last album (The Drift ) was one of the best records of 2006 and easily one of the best records I’ve heard in years.

  7. Schuyler Chapman says:

    I have to admit to being slightly ambivalent about Control. Joy Division has been a favorite of mine for a looooong time now, and, frankly, I have a hard time imagining that Control will achieve the same level of intensity that the “Joy Division” story did in 24 Hour Party People (one of my favorite films of the decade thus far). Condensing their tale into a half-hour or so–especially with the impressionistic way in which Winterbottom dealt with Ian Curtis–brutalized me, for one. I can’t watch the film without sobbing during that interlude (the cut to the hanging feet is, like, what did Godard characterize Fuller’s work as? the “cinema of the fist”–it’s SO visceral, not to mention the following scene wherein Tony Wilson isn’t a twat for the first time). Anyway, I feel very strongly about that film and, I guess, am unsure if Control will achieve the same effect. I’m hoping it’ll be good (and it looks GREAT), but I always worry about biopics.

    Anyway, can’t wait for I’m Not There. If Todd Haynes isn’t the best American filmmaker of his generation, I’ll eat my shoe.

  8. Bruce says:

    The Who doc looks great but also looks like it might be a retread of The Kids Are Alright which i had on video and wore it out.

    Control looks interesting, but let’s see we had @4 Hour Party People which told some of the same story. THen I just watched a new documentry about Factory Records.

    The Dylan movies looks interesting but mainly to see Cate Blanchett portray the 65 version

    Also Joe Strummer just rules why couldn’t have been Axl who died walking his dog instead.

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