A Hard Days Night: 5 Band Movies

Monday, November 21 by Christopher Chavez

Throughout the years, Hollywood has had quite a love affair with the music industry, producing band movies in every style of filmmaking possible. Whether a mockumentary, drama, biopic or comedy, band movies have helped to fuel the dreams of generations of moviegoers who have fantasized of being on stage in front of thousands of adoring fans. From excellent documentaries such as “Festival Express” and “The Last Waltz” to historical accounts such as “La Bamba,” “Backbeat,” and “The Buddy Holly Story,” band movies have long held an important place in the history of cinema.

“This is Spinal Tap” - Spinal Tap, one of “England’s loudest bands,” is the subject of this hilarious rock and roll mockumentary. The film follows the heavy metal legends as they set out on a comeback tour of the United States in support of a new album. Every pretentious rock and heavy metal cliché is unapologetically on display as the band bounces from city to city. Amps that go to eleven, getting lost backstage, a revolving door of drummers, and an 18-inch Stonehenge elicit just as many laughs as the band's songs. With titles such as “Lick My Love Pump,”  “Big Bottom,” and “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight.”

“The Doors” – Arguably one of the most controversial bands of the 60s, The Doors and Jim Morrison rose above the hippie counterculture movement and established themselves as one of the era’s most influential groups. This 1991 Oliver Stone film deals with the formation of the band and their rapid rise to fame. Much of the focus is on Morrison, the band’s charismatic front man, and his love of alcohol and psychedelic drugs. The singer is portrayed by Val Kilmer, who bears an eerie resemblance to “The Lizard King.” The film’s soundtrack has a “greatest hits” feel, as apparent in songs such as “Riders on the Storm,” “Break on Through,” and “Light My Fire.”

“Almost Famous” – A semi-autobiographical film written and directed by Cameron Crowe, “Almost Famous” tells the story of fifteen-year-old William Miller, an amateur rock journalist who, under the direction of legendary rock journalist Lester Bangs, joins the unknown band Stillwater on tour. Miller documents the touring life of a band about to break out in the early 70s, and the people who devote themselves to their music, the fans. A love letter to the world of 70s rock, “Almost Famous” is the music of a quintessential rock band as witnessed through the eyes of a boy in the midst of his most formative years.

“The Rocker” – When Vesuvius, a heavy metal glam band, is offered a shot at opening for Whitesnake, they reluctantly accept, even though it means having to fire their drummer to get the shot. Robert “Fish” Fishman is the drummer whose world comes to a shattering halt. Twenty years later, Fish finds himself without a girlfriend, losing his job and having to move into the attic of his sister’s house. Just when everything seems hopeless, Fish learns his nephew’s rock band is in need of a drummer. After convincing the band to let him join, Fish sets into motion a series of events that will teach the kids lessons in fame, fortune, friendship and loyalty.

“The Runaways” – The formation, celebrity and eventual break up of an explosive, all-female rock band from the 1970s is the focus of this 2010 biopic The Runaways were a group of young, talented, angry girls that set out to prove they could rock harder than any man. Led by singer Cherie Currie and guitarist Joan Jett, The Runaways find success in their sexuality as well as with their music, in the form of their hit song “Cherry Bomb.” Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart play the legendary musicians with the perfect mix of youthful innocence and tarnished angst. “The Runaways” is a testament of how a short-lived band of misfits made their mark on rock and roll history.