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Rock Flicks: Your Faves and Ours

See our favorite rock flicks and vote for yours

See our favorite rock flicks and vote for yours


What are the greatest rock flicks of all time? Here are the FUV DJs' picks of their most memorable rock movies - both documentaries and original films. Let us know your faves in the poll below - you could win a copy of the Searching for Sugar Man soundtrack! (Deadline Friday, October 5 at 12 midnight. We'll pick 10 winners at random.) And listen to FUV for songs from some the best movie soundtracks, as WFUV Gets Reel during our fall membership drive.


FUV's Picks

2424 Hour Party People
Manchester music impresario Tony Wilson’s impact on Britain’s postpunk scene is paramount; he co-founded Factory Records, managed Joy Division, New Order and the shambolic Happy Mondays and bled a fortune on the legendary-but-doomed Haçienda club. Director Michael Winterbottom’s sharply etched 2002 film captures the man’s hubris with affection, humor and fertile hyperbole, cleverly casting Steve Coogan as the dreaming, scheming and visionary Wilson. And the soundtrack is brilliant. (Kara Manning)

BeatlesA Hard Day's Night
A Hard Day's Night redefined what a "rock 'n' roll movie" could be. United Artists had secured movie rights for the Beatles to obtain a successful soundtrack album.  However, when director Richard Lester chose to go outside the traditional rock film formula, he created a cinematic and musical breakthrough. A great script and supporting cast, innovative visual techniques and performances from John, Paul, George and Ringo that exceeded all expectations combined to make this an unforgettable film. (Dennis Elsas)

AnvilAnvil! The Story of Anvil
Music is a risky career. After years without success, many give up and decide to get a "real job", but the Canadian heavy metal band Anvil never did.  Despite being dropped time and time again by labels, Anvil continued to make music, sometimes playing for just a handful of people. Members of Guns & Roses, Anthrax, Metallica, Slayer and more sing Anvil's praises and encourage them to go on.  (Alisa Ali)

Big EasyBig Easy Express
I was lucky enough to be on board the Big Easy Express as the beautiful vintage train travelled across the country carrying Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, Old Crow Medicine Show and Mumford & Sons. Filmmaker Emmett Malloy does a great job documenting the cinematic musical journey which is part road movie and part concert film. It’s a seldom seen view of America and a seldom heard love of Americana music. (Rita Houston)

GeorgeGeorge Harrison: Living In The Material World
Martin Scorsese’s heartfelt tribute to the Quiet Beatle is a lengthy exploration that searches this material world to discover the many layers that make up both the human and spiritual sides of George Harrison. Scorsese’s use of never before seen personal footage of George is coupled with some previously unreleased music, plus interviews with those who knew him well to tell a tale that reveals much more than your run of the mill biography. (Darren DeVivo)

GimmeGimme Shelter
When David and Albert Maysles agreed to film the 1969 Rolling Stones American tour, they never imagined their movie would culminate in a murder.  Employing their distinctive cinema verite style, they follow the Stones from Madison Square Garden to an Alabama recording studio to a free concert planned for San Francisco. The result is Altamont, a violent end to the peace and love spirit of the Sixties and a frightening look at the dark side of rock 'n' roll. (Dennis Elsas)

MetalHeavy Metal Parking Lot
One of the funniest rock docs ever made, this cult classic documents a 1986 tailgate party at a Judas Priest concert. It captures a very specific time when guys wore leopard print pants, girls had spiky hair, and music boomed from Camaros.  Without much of a theater run, it circulated through bootleg VHS copies. It was finally released on DVD with some great bonus features like a “where are they now” look at some of the film’s characters. (Alisa Ali)

HIghHigh Fidelity
When it was announced that Nick Hornby’s broken-hearted bestseller High Fidelity would be Americanized for the screen, fans of the 1995 British novel were irate. But the result, brightly directed by Stephen Frears and smartly co-produced by its star, John Cusack, is intelligent, quirky and as cool as vinyl. Like the now-defunct Beta Band, lovingly championed in a memorable scene, High Fidelity is its cinematic soulmate; an often overlooked gem. (Kara Manning)

WilcoI Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco
Shot in glorious black & white, this film takes you behind the scenes with a band in transition, as they make the enduring Yankee Hotel Foxtrot; it’s a fascinating look at a band's dynamic, as well as record company absurdity. The scene in the studio when the late Jay Bennett catalogs options to Jeff Tweedy reveals the former’s skill in the studio but also his disintegrating relationship with the latter.  (Eric Holland)

HeartNeil Young: Heart of Gold
When I started playing guitar as a teenager, I quickly learned that the cool kids knew Neil Young songs.  All these years later, those songs still resonate with me… and with filmmaker Jonathan Demme, apparently.  He’s made three films about Neil and told me that Heart of Gold seeks to take us to places we’d never be able to go – onstage, backstage and up close to the performers. He does that and more. (Claudia Marshall)

“The little engine that could” of movies, Once was shot for $160,000, ended up grossing $16 million, and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. The bittersweet story of an Irish busker and a Czech immigrant, it also led to the off-screen romance of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Now it’s also a Tony Award winning Broadway musical that’s remarkably faithful to the low-key intimacy of the movie. (John Platt)

PhilPhil Ochs: There But for Fortune
Ochs was an essential ‘60s folkie – writer of classics like “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” and “Changes” – and an anomaly, dedicated to political protest, but ambitious to make it big like Dylan. Suffering from depression, he committed suicide in 1976. This documentary illuminates his talent and influence by weaving together archival performances, news footage, and interviews with the likes of Joan Baez and Dave Van Ronk. (John Platt)

Pink FloydPink Floyd The Wall
Bob Geldof stars in this film directed by Alan Parker, written by Roger Waters and based on Pink Floyd’s 1979 album. Pink Floyd’s music and Gerald Scarfe’s animated sequences drive this visually and sonically vivid drama that, on the surface, tells the story of Pink, a rock star who alienates himself behind a metaphorical wall. Autobiographical events, socio-political commentary and references to Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd’s original front man) are all bricks in the film’s wall. (Darren DeVivo)

SearchingSearching for Sugar Man
This is a story almost too unreal to be true – a documentary about finding Rodriguez, the greatest '70s rock icon who never was. After his acclaimed albums bombed commercially, he disappeared into obscurity amid rumors of a gruesome onstage suicide, but his music found its way into apartheid South Africa, where he became a phenomenon – bigger than Elvis.  It turns out Rodriquez is very much alive in Detroit, and the world is finally ready for his music. (Rita Houston)

Shut UpShut Up and Play the Hits
This film documents the end of LCD Soundsystem and the emotional journey of its leading man, James Murphy, who owns the screen through the big and small moments. It’s a glimpse into the creative spirit and the difficult decision of making a big change in life.  It also doesn’t hurt that the music is great! This is/was an important band and is an essential rock film – a modern day The Last Waltz. (Rita Houston)

StandingStanding in the Shadows of Mootown
This concert film/biopic adds names, riffs and stories to the unsung musicians of Motown: The Funk Brothers. Their list of hits is a thwack of perspective, but mixed with the pride and nostalgia is the bittersweet reality of creating success but not sharing in it. When the remaining Funk Brothers perform with artists like Joan Osborne, however, the heart of the beat is undeniable. (Sarah Wardrop)

ByrneStop Making Sense
My favorite music documentary, due largely to the creative direction of Jonathan Demme, who avoided shots of the crowd, which had the effect of putting viewers in it. Most memorable for Byrne coming on stage with only a guitar and a boom box and then being incrementally joined by his bandmates including Bernie Worrell. (Eric Holland)

DevilThe Devil & Daniel Johnston
A moving documentary about the life of the mythic artist, Daniel Johnston, the film offers glimpses of his colorful world. The intensity of his emotions – both incredible happiness and crippling sadness – has produced wildly imaginative music and paintings, but has also landed him in jail and mental institutions. Interviews with friends and family members help reveal Daniel Johnston's fascinating story. (Alisa Ali)

Rocky HorrorThe Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Rocky Horror Picture Show has been shown continually in theaters since 1975, making it the longest theatrical run in history. This sci-fi/horror rock musical featured Susan Sarandon and Meat Loaf, and introduced us to Tim Curry. Dress up and bring props such as rice and flashlights to join in with the cult audience at a midnight screening. (Corny O’Connell)

Spinal TapThis Is Spinal Tap
Rob Reiner’s 1984 “mockumentary”  is my favorite movie of all time.  It chronicles the success and failure of the fictional band as they go from selling out arenas to playing army bases and amusement parks.  It's one of the most quotable movies ever, and you can’t talk about turning things up to eleven without This is Spinal Tap. (Russ Borris)

This documentary on the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair was an Academy Award winning film that not only chronicled the historic festival, but also provided a platform for the hippie counter culture in America. It’s a time capsule of the late 1960s, where a generation proved that a little love, peace and music could go a long way. It also demonstrated that rock and roll could be a lucrative, money-making venture. (Darren DeVivo)


Your Picks

Vote for your favorite in our list, and/or add your own fave to the comments below.