I get teased a lot because I haven’t seen “Grease” or any of the “Star Wars” movies and, until recently, I’d never watched an episode of “Seinfeld” or “The Office.” I always felt like I had something more important to do. However, from 1988-2008 (my child-rearing years) I did see every episode of the “Powerpuff Girls,” and “Spongebob Squarepants” (many times) and every animated movie including, “The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Toy Story” and “The Little Mermaid.” Consequently I know all the words to their soundtracks to this day.
Now that I’m only responsible for myself and under the influence of a television and movie lover, I’ve started catching up on what I’ve missed and enjoying newer offerings as well.
My television viewing ranges from dramas on HBO or Showtime — “Ray Donovan,” “Shameless,” “Billions” — to guilty pleasures like “90 Day Fiance” and “Love After Lockup.” Both are total Dumpster fires, but I just smile, hold my nose and watch them burn.
And while reality TV, or hot garbage as I like to call it, is fun to watch, what I’m really loving are the movies inspired by and the documentaries about rock musicians.
On my to-see list are:
“Blinded by the Light” — Set in England in 1987, this movie is based on a true story of how Bruce Springteen’s music inspired a Pakistani teenager to express himself in spite of his strict Muslim father and the intolerance of his hometown. The movie includes an unreleased version of “I’ll Stand By You” and rare renditions of “The Promised Land” and “The River.”
Next on my list is the David Crosby documentary “Remember My Name.” The trailer alone is worth watching. Owen Gleiberman from Variety magazine calls it a “Shamanistic parable of pleasure and pain, beauty and loss.” Wow! It’s 77-year-old David Crosby’s honest account of his life, loves, drug addiction and stardom.
“Yesterday” is on my list because I went to see it at the theater and it was broken. I guess you call that technical difficulties, and although we got our $24 back for the tickets, we were stuck with $17 worth of snacks, which consisted only of a bottled water, Coke Icee and a bag of gummy fruits.
“Above Us Only Sky” on Netflix makes the list. It came out in 2018, but I just heard about it, so, Brittany, I’ll be calling to borrow your Netflix password soon. If that’s illegal, scratch that last part. “Above Us Only Sky” is a documentary that features original footage of John Lennon and Yoko Ono and explores the collaboration of the two as John writes and records his classic 1971 album “Imagine.”
I have seen and I recommend the following music-based movies:
“Bohemian Rhapsody” — I saw this at the theater, but it’s now available on HBO and DVD. I do think it was best to see this movie at a theater. The music should be heard loud, in surround sound, and the characters should be 20 feet tall. The story of Freddie Mercury/Queen deserves it. Rami Malek got a lot of praise for his portrayal of Mercury, and I think he won some awards for it. (I don’t usually keep up with that stuff.) But the actors who played Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon were phenomenal, too.
“The Rolling Thunder Review — A Bob Dylan Story” by Martin Scorsese was a feast for the eyes and ears. It included the best Dylan concert footage I’ve ever seen, along with glimpses into private moments backstage during the 1975 tour. Scorsese did a good job of weaving together historic clips with modern interviews of Dylan and other celebrities. My favorite parts of the documentary: Bob Dylan’s clear reluctance to answer questions and learning about violinist Scarlet Rivera, who I developed a girl crush on.
“Rocketman” was a good movie, and even though I knew there would be tons of music, I didn’t know until right before I went to see it that it was a full-fledged, dancing in the streets musical. Still, the story was compelling, and I loved it. Again, casting directors got it right when they cast Taron Egerton as Elton John, and the fact that he sang all of the songs himself was awe-inspiring.
Even if you don’t watch “90 Day Fiance” or “Love After Lock-up,” I hope you’ll watch one or all of the aforementioned movies and share the age-appropriate ones with your children so they can learn to appreciate classic music and be inspired by the musicians’ stories and the stories of those who have been greatly influenced by music.
Love and music have been called the most powerful forms of magic. I guess that’s why the best movies include both. I am no longer a person who says, “I have better things to do with my time than watch a movie.” There is no better use of time. Take the 90 minutes, spend the $50 or just sit on the couch and let the music and magic of a good movie become a memory you share with someone you love.