Best Rock Movies

“School of Rock” (2003)

school of rock

Mr. Schneebly – who hasn’t wished for him to be your substitute teacher?  Come on now, confess!  No grades, being in a kickbutt rock band, defying parents, breaking the rules.  Good, right?

Jack Black’s character Dewey Finn is the forever loser, wanna be rocker, but when he steals his roommate’s identity as a substitute teacher, he discovers he has a  class of very musically talented 5th grade students. So, Dewey decides to turn his class into a rock band to potentially win the Battle of the Bands and $20,000.  I won’t spoil whether the kids win or don’t win the battle, but as a result of the contest they gain self confidence and continue to play rock in an after school program coached by Dewey.  Long live Rock!

This film totally tapped into my inner rocker!

 

“The Commitments” (1991)

commitments

What happens when a group of white working class Dubliners form a soul band?  A rousing film with some great music inspired by legendary artists, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett.

They nail the soul of the greats by immersing themselves 24/7 in classic soul standards:

  •     “In the Midnight Hour” – Wilson Pickett
  • “Try a Little Tenderness” – Otis Redding
  • “I Never Loved a Man” – Aretha Franklin
  • Whether on buses, hanging up laundry or in music store windows, they were feeling the soul.  In the words of  Félim Gormley (Dean Fay- Sax) “I’m black and I’m proud!”

I’m so glad the movie was authentic with the cast singing on the soundtrack.  (The actors were cast  for their musical abilities.) Lead singer (Andrew Strong “Deco”) was nuts but the standout talent of the band.

The Commitments was voted best Irish film of all time in a 2005 poll sponsored by Jameson Irish Whiskey and launched a generation of Irish musicians and actors.

 

 

 “This is Spinal Tap” (1984)

 

This is spinal tap poster

 OMG, the funniest, dead on satire of a rock metal band ever!

Classic in every sense of the word, Rob Reiner’s masterpiece was directed, written, scored by and stars:

Rob Reiner – (Marty D. Bergi) – maker of documentary

Spinal Tap

Christopher Guest – (Nigel Tufnel)

Michael McKean- (David St. Hubbins)

Harry Shearer – (Derek Smalls)

This mockumentary feels so real that some movie goers thought they were an actual group!

The “Stonehenge” number during the Smell the Glove tour is priceless.  Due to a mix up with size dimensions, the Stonehenge replica for their epic song is 18 inches instead of 18 feet tall.  The little people performers in the number were taller. And Derek Smalls getting stuck in the stage prop egg is hilarious!

 In 2002, This Is Spinal Tap was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation by the United States National Film Registry.

 

 

These are 3 of my favorite Rock Movies – Let me know yours in the comments!

 

 

 

Take Me to the River and Stop Making Sense?

Stop_making_sense_poster_original

 Stop Making Sense 1984

I love, love, love David Byrne and The Talking Heads and can’t believe it’s been 30 years since the release of the concert film “Stop Making Sense.”

Truly revolutionary and the definitive concert movie.  Widely recognized as one of the greatest live concert films of all time.  Directed by Johnathan Demme, it was shot over the course of 3 nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater.  Demme captures the artistic vision of David Byrne and draws in the viewing audience as we watch the performance evolve from Byrne alone on stage with just a boombox singing “Psycho Killer” to the addition of each band member concluding with a get up off your seat party in your theater or living room finale – “Take Me to the River.”

Enjoy a few of my favorite numbers!

Check out the iconic “Big Suit.”

The grand finale!

To mark the occasion, the film is being made available digitally for the first time ever by Palm Pictures, along with a limited theatrical engagement this summer and fall.

That Thing You Do!

That_Thing_You_Do!_film_poster

Tom Hanks‘ film – written, directed by and co-starring Tom Hanks – chronicles the road to fame of the fictional one-hit wonder – “The Wonders” (previously the” O-need-ers” 🙂  It was produced by Jonathan Demme.

The Wonders

Guy Patterson “Shades” (Tom Everett Scott)

Lenny Haise (Steve Zahn)

Jimmy Mattingly (Jonathan Schaech)

the unnamed bass player (Ethan Emery)

“and the lovely” Faye Dolan (Liv Tyler)

 

Set in Erie, Pennsylvania 1964, the plot involves Guy Paterson filling in as drummer for the band after their regular drummer, Chad (Giovanni Rabisi) breaks his arm.  Leap frogging over a parking meter-really?

Cutting to the chase:

Guy’s drumming is awesome,  he changes “That Thing You Do’s”song tempo from ballad to upbeat, Faye calls Guy’s playing “wonderful” hence band’s name,  girls dance, Villapiano gig,  Tom Hanks signs band.

The rest as they say is one-hit wonder history.

Lenny by far is my favorite character!  He gets it.  Enjoy the moment.  He’s relaxed, funny and always the life of the party.  When asked a question by a reporter during their State Fair Tour he replies with a sorta crazy nasally sounding voice:  “Oh I’m not here with these fellas, I gotta pig in competition over at the livestock pavilion and I am gonna win that blue ribbon!”  Leaving the reporter with a stupefied look on his face.  Classic Lenny.  Priceless!

It’s a fun filled musical ride worth the re-viewing or viewing if you haven’t already checked it out.

Rock out for the weekend remix – “Were-Rabbit” style

Growing up in the 70’s I was all about Rock and “Hocus Pocus” by the band Focus was always on my playlist. When I saw this remix of Wallace and Gromit “Curse of the Were-Rabbit” I thought I would die! What a brilliant idea. It totally fits with the off the wall antics of BFFs Wallace and Gromit.

Check it Out!!

Hocus Pocus by Focus – Wallace and Gromit

Focus

is a Dutch progressive rock band formed in 1969 by classically trained organist/flautist Thijs van Leer. The band is most famous for the instrumental pieces – “Hocus Pocus” and “Sylvia.” The group broke up in 1978 but got back together in 2002 and have been recording and touring ever since. “Hocus Pocus” received new fame as it was used for the theme of the 2010 World Cup Nike ad.

Focus -Top of the Pop 1974

Top of Pops 1974

Wallace and Gromit are the British stop-motion franchise characters and brain child of creator Nick Park of Aardman Animations. Wallace is an absent-minded, cheese loving, inventor.  Best friend Gromit is a silently intelligent dog.

 “Curse of the Were-Rabbit” (2005) finds the duo working to apprehend the rabbit population who are eating up all the vegetable gardens of the residents of Wigan right before the annual Giant Vegetable Competition.  Events go horribly wrong when Wallace invents a Mind Manipulation-O-Matic contraption to brainwash the rabbits not to eat the vegetables.  The result is Wallace being transformed into a giant, veggie loving Were-Rabbit.

Helena Bohnam Carter (Ms Tottington) and Ralph Fiennes (Lord Victor Quartermaine) lend their voices to the non-stop hilarity.

This is the original trailer:

Wallace & Gromit “Curse of the Were-Rabbit” won Academy Awards for:

Best Animated Feature Film Nick Park
Steve Box
Best Animated Effects Jason Wen
Best Animated Feature
Best Character Animation Claire Billet
Best Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Nick Park
Best Directing in an Animated Feature Production Nick Park
Steve Box
Best Music in an Animated Feature Production Julian Nott
Best Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Phil Lewis

Nick Park should add “Hocus Pocus” by Focus “Were-Rabbit” remix to his long list of award accolades!

 

 

The coolest guys to ever hit the Vegas strip

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.

The Rat Pack

 

Ocean’s 11 (1960)

Ocean'sEleven(1960)Poster

I can just hear Sinatra’s proposal.  How about this, we’ll shoot a film during the day in Las Vegas then party and work the Sands Hotel at night.  Unanimous vote.  (EE-O-Eleven.)

 Look out Vegas, here we come!

The Rat Pack: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Humphrey Bogart (regarded as the greatest male star by the American Film Institute in 1999) originated the concept of the “Rat Pack” with his “Clan.”  He was “the man”, holding court nightly in the 50’s at Holmby Hills. (home of Bogey and his wife Lauren Bacall)  He passed the torch to Frank Sinatra, (an original member of Bogart’s “Pack” who served as “pack master.”)  After Bogey’s death in 1957,   Frank’s boys became his “Rat Pack.”

Humphrey Bogart

Bogart

Performers commonly associated with The Rat Pack:  Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford.

Angie Dickinson, and Shirley MacLaine were often referred to as the “Rat Pack Mascots.”

Rat Pack all

Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis, Jr, Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop, Dean Martin

Danny Ocean isn’t really a fictional character, he is Frank Sinatra.  Believe it, his boys would do anything for him. Except Dean, he was the only one who ever said no to old blue eyes.  Frank really dug Dean’s truthfulness.

The plot revolves around a group of former World War II army buddies (under the command of Danny Ocean) conspiring to rob, on New Year’s Eve, five casinos on the Vegas strip.  When Peter Lawford presented the story idea Frank Sinatra joked: “Forget the movie, let’s pull the job!”

 

Whenever one of the “Pack” was performing at a club in Vegas, the others would show up to support and usually put on an impromptu performance.  While they were in town, Las Vegas was jam packed with admirers hoping to catch a show.

This performance was on June 20, 1965 featuring, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.   Johnny Carson (known for The Tonight Show) served as the emcee, filling in for Joey Bishop who had hurt his back.

It would be their only televised concert together.

 

Robin and the 7 Hoods 1964

Robin_and_the_7_Hoods_Poster

  Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the film is a take on the classic Robin Hood tale.  This engaging musical features the Academy Award nominated song “My Kind of Town” sung by Frank Sinatra.

 My favorite number is “Mr. Booze” sung by Bing Crosby.  I love this scene because Robbo’s (Sinatra) club miraculously converts into a mission (due to some clever architectural tricks) to fool the police during a raid.  Robbo’s gang breaks into the gospel version of “Mr. Booze” with Alan A Dale (Crosby) preaching and Little John (Dean) testifying on the lessons of temperance.

Peter Lawford was originally cast as Alan A. Dale, but due to a falling out with Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby took over the role.  At the time, Lawford’s brother-in-law was President John F. Kennedy and Lawford had arranged for The President to stay at Sinatra’s home.  However, because of concerns over Frank’s ties to the “Mob”, the plans were scraped.

“Mr. Booze, Mr. Booze, Mr. B double O, Z, E, don’t ever choose.”

Other numbers include:

“Don’t be a Do-Badder” sung by Bing Crosby

“Bang, Bang!” sung by Sammy Davis, Jr.

“Style” sung by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby

My favorite Rat Pack movie reference line is from Clueless (1995).

Cher’s dad talking to her date who is dressed circa 60’s “Pack” style:

“What’s with you kid? You think the death of Sammy Davis, Jr. left an opening in The Rat Pack?”   Too hilarious!!

 

Over 50 years later, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. are still the coolest guys to ever hit the Vegas Strip!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fab Five “Days Night” 50 Years

A Hard Day’s Night

July 6, 1964

Beatles hey mister

Ringo Starr, George Harrison, John Lennon & Paul McCartney of the Beatles in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

In celebration of film’s 50th anniversary Criterion Collection issues 4K digital restoration

What an inspired idea Beatles manager Brian Epstein had to introduce the world to John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr in the 1964 film “A Hard Day’s Night”.  Naturals for the camera, the lads stole our hearts and delivered a funny, nonstop scream fest!  Paul’s “grandfather” (“villain, a real mixer” 🙂 (Wilfrid Brambell) practically stole the show ascending from under the stage during the middle of a number!

 Wilfred BrambellWilfred B

The film never gets old and always lifts my spirits and brings a smile with thoughts and memories of a glorious time gone by.

Directed by Richard Lester
Produced by Walter Shenson
Written by Alun Owen
Starring John Lennon Paul McCartney George Harrison Ringo Starr Wilfrid Brambell Norman Rossington John Junkin Victor Spinetti Maggie d’Abo
Music by The Beatles George Martin
Cinematography Gilbert Taylor
Editing by John Jympson
Studio Proscenium Films Walter Shenson Films Maljack Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates 6 July 1964 (UK)

 

Purple Rain 30th Surprise!

Prince’s landmark soundtrack and film – Purple Rain turned 30 this week.  Prince marked the occasion with a surprise concert at his Paisley Park compound in Minneapolis.  For me, it brought back memories of the energy and excitement in the theater on opening day.  The movie had all the buzz of a true concert experience.  It so rocked I brought my husband back for the midnight showing!

 

Purple Rain poster

Purple Rain 1984

“Let’s Go Crazy, Let’s Get Nuts, look for the purple banana ’til they put us in the truck.”  Let’s Go!!

Okay, you got me, I’m in!

 My weekly movie matinee ritual was turned on his head as Prince and the Revolution along with Morris Day and the Time deconstructed and reconstructed the movie musical genre.  From the very first cord we were plugged into a musical score that would impact the direction of Pop music.

Prince went on to win the Oscar for Best Music, Original Song Score.  And also walked away with a Grammy for Best Album of Instrumental Score written for a Motion Picture.

 

Directed by Albert Magnoli
Starring Prince
Apollonia Kotero
Morris Day
Clarence Williams III
Olga Karlatos

The Kid (Prince) struggles to mediate his parents dysfunctional relationship while dealing with his own tenuous one with the new honey in town, the aspiring singer Apollonia (Apollonia Kotero).

A cherry on top for The Kid is the kick butt love token Apollonia bestows on him, that super sweet white guitar!

Prince Apollonia white guitar

The music moves the story line along and reveals the shifting dynamics between The Kid and Apollonia.  The budding romance, “Take me with You” and the darker side of The Kid “Darling Nikki.”

The Kid and Morris Day and The Time duke it out onstage with licks like -“The Beautiful Ones” and “Jungle Love.”   It turned 1st Avenue, in Minneapolis into a landmark and music mecca.

Exciting, rocking, sexy Prince, there is no other!   The concert numbers totally made the film.  These were my top faves:

Let’s Go Crazy – Prince and The Revolution
Jungle Love – Morris Day and The Time
Purple Rain – Prince and The Revolution
I Would Die 4 U – Prince and The Revolution

Check this funky, fresh version of “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Prince with 3rdEye Girl 2013 Billboard Music Awards

 

I’ve gotta talk about Morris Day and the Time.  I love Morris Day!  Both cool and hilarious.  And  I can’t leave out my man Jerome (Jerome Benton) ever ready with the car door or a jumbo size mirror.  Here’s Morris Day and Jerome’s take on the classic routine “Whose on First?”made famous by the 40’s comedy duo Abbott and Costello.

I wish I could have been at Prince’s Paisley Park for the June 29th celebration!  Being a die-hard Prince fan and having attended all his concert tours, I’m sure it was an amazing evening.  Also, his very special guest turned out to be his Purple Rain co-star, Apollonia Kotero.  (would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall for that reunion:)

Prince graciously posted this audio from his late-night surprise concert with 3rdEye Girl:

Enjoy!