It’s hard to imagine a more bizarre experimental movie I’ve come across in years. Jack Henry Robbins’ film “VHYes” at its best is a funny, smart, experiment with nostalgia, while at its worst, it feels like a weak pilot for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim expanded in to a near feature length movie. Some might appreciate the jarring changes in tone and bite size comedy that is peppered throughout “VHYes” and while I thought it left much to be desired, it also had a lot going for it, with some fascinating commentary about nostalgia and memories. It really wants to be “Amazon Women on the Moon,” at the end of the day, but it ends as a mildly fascinating meshing of genres, and comedic bits.
Some of the best and most entertaining rock bands of all time come from pop culture; in particular there’s the rock bands of the movies, all of whom have some shocking contributions to make to actual music. Case in point: The Rutles, The Blues Brothers, and Spinal Tap. And there are… others that I had fun remembering like The Archies and the Oneders. These are five of some of my favorite movie rock bands of all time. I excluded some at risk of being repetitive, but these are five that stood out for me and still stick with me.
Director Danny Boyle and writer Richard Curtis have a fascinating premise for “Yesterday,” and when all is said and done, after two hours, they—have a fascinating premise. They don’t actually do much with it, in all honesty. They take what could have been a unique and bizarre tale about an iconic band completely inexplicably being erased from all of culture around the world and turn it in to a conventional tale of rags to riches. I mean the script does nothing with the idea of the Beatles not existing. What would happen to all the singers, performers, bands, and artists they inspired? Would they cease to exist as a whole? “Yesterday” barely scratches the surface at two hours.
The thing about cinema is that it’s an often very literal art form that takes what is often very metaphorical or performance art about stage productions and has a hard time supplanting it for the audience. For “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” it’s a very good cult rock film that often feels like it has to be seen on stage in order to soak in the true experience. I’m not trying to take away what a cult classic John Cameron Mitchell’s musical drama is, but I couldn’t quite help but feel that “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” could have been much more appreciated as a live show.
Another year, another mediocre big budget biopic, filled with Oscar aspirations, about a musical genius. I’m a huge fan of Elton John, and have been for years, but he deserves so much more than what is mainly just a serviceable musical drama about his life. While it gets credit for consciously dodging biopic tropes (and seems to also be a retort to “Bohemian Rhapsody” which openly shied away from Freddie Mercury’s sexuality), “Rocketman” only inspired me to re-visit his classic music.
Twenty five years too late, “Cats” is that kind of Broadway hit that may have worked wonders on the stage but fails spectacularly when it’s given a very literal adaptation on screen (e.g. “Jersey Boys”). I say that as someone that’s never liked “Cats” or really ever seen the big deal behind it. I barely stayed awake during a production airing on PBS back in the mid-nineties, and I only fondly remember it thanks to a classic TV ad that played around the clock in the eighties and nineties. “Cats” has always been that production I hope studios would stop trying to put on to the big screen.
And sadly, here we are. Oh the horror.
It’s hard to find many good zombie apocalypse Christmas musical comedies out there, but when you do, it’s a treat. John McPhall’s wonderful “Anna and the Apocalypse” is a great film teeming with massive cult potential that I think will big momentum soon. It’s that kind of movie warranting a big Broadway production a la “Rocky Horror.” On its own though, the Scottish born “Anna and the Apocalypse” is a great reprieve from the massive holiday rush. While the holiday season is filled with an overflow of maudlin movies, “Anna and the Apocalypse” is that right dose of holiday glee with some great zombie carnage to boot.
Chaplin’s “The Circus” is the perfect encapsulation of what The Little Tramp is and why he’s so special. He’s an underdog hero that always seems to keep the good faith, despite the fact that he’s in constant pain, and almost never gets a happy ending. There’s something so insightful and poetic about the truth of “The Little Tramp” character. We root for him, and we cheer for him, and at the end of the day he doesn’t really get the women, or the fortune, or even much fulfillment. And that’s why the character is so mesmerizing and engaging.