Although The Doors’ drummer, John Densmore, was the only other band who enjoyed Oliver Stone’s story, I enjoyed the movie and thought Val Kilmer was offering an excellent performance as Jim Morrison. In the role of Morrison’s long standing companion, Pamela Courson, even Meg Ryan outdid herself. Meg, who usually opts for petty romance films, really took on the role of Jim’s troubled girlfriend.
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‘The Doors’ (Oliver Stone, 1991)
In the back of his family car, a young Jim Morrison drives along a desert highway. They pass by an indigenous American man who dies along the road, which has a huge effect on Jim. We see him vaguely reappearing on Jim’s side throughout the film.
The film begins with the days of Jim at UCLA, which screens one of his films; a short time later, he meets Ray Manzarek, who introduces him to Robby Krieger and John Densmore.
The Doors Are Born.
At a party, Jim meets the shindig with her boyfriend, Pamela Courson. Jim follows her home and goes up a tree to her balcony – she will quickly become enthusiastic about his poetic charm. Extremely interested in the effects and inspiration of psychedelic drugs, Jim talks to his fellow band in the Death Valley on a journey. Some experience their trip better than others, such as Krieger, who seems to suffer throughout.
With their first recorded songs like Light My Fire and The End they take to the Sunset Strip and build a large fan base in no time.
‘ Walk The Line’ (James Mangold, 2005)
Walk The Line opens up for a sitting backstage by Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix), waiting for his infamous gig at the State Prison in Folsom. Sat by a table, his childhood and the death of his brother, Jack, is remembered.
Jack had trained to become a pastor but died from a chainsaw accident injury. This made Johnny’s relationship with his father, Ray, even more strained and as a result he was enrolled in the US Air Force.
Cash began writing songs in 1952, while still on base, when he purchased his first guitar. After his discharge he moved with his wife Vivian Liberto to Memphis, Tennessee, and they started a family. Here he set up a band that he auditioned for the owner of Sun Records, Sam Philips.
You enter into a contract and begin touring like Johnny Cash & The Two. He then met the singer who was married at the time, June Carter (Reese Witherspoon). They spend many years together, but Johnny does not seem to be able to win her heart and falls deeper and deeper into the downward spiral of drugs and alcohol.
Two of them have been dancing around the Ring of Fire for several years, while June is obviously fond of Johnny, his misguided behavior puts him away from a real relationship with him. It turns out that the couple had to go down and up before they finally meet in the middle when Johnny again offers her on the stage and she accepts this time.
‘The Runaways’ (Floria Sigismondi, 2010)
Floria Sigismondi’s band film is a story of origins.
Kristin Stewart portrays Joan Jett as Bandmate Cherie Currie with Dakota Fanning when they’re fighting to put together a band.
This is a coming-of-age film with a rock-and-roll side, which transcends the worship of the naive journalist and turns into a desperation in which to live all sorts of life.
‘Velvet Goldmine’ (Todd Haynes, 1998)
Thinly covering David Bowie in his stand-ins, Brian Slade, fakes the death of his alter ego (a cross between the lyrical demise of Ziggy Stardust on the eponymous album and his Hammersmith Odeon onstage end).
However, we only know the character when a music journalist (and a long time fan) decided to spend his life with friends, family and insiders in the recording industry in a series of interviews.
Cameron Crowe’s cult film features 50 songs and more than doubled Hollywood’s standard music budget.
Todd Haynes has no ode to glam rock, but he has a lot of hits from Roxy Music, Brian Eno and T. Rex on the track.
‘Saturday Night Fever’ (John Badham, 1977)
There’s more to this film than the white suit from John Travolta and the soundtrack from BeeGees (although let’s face it, both are quite main components).
Beyond the shiny disco lights, Saturday Night Fever deals with the harsh realities of life on the Brooklyn Bridge downstream. Disco offers an escape to dancers like Tony Manero, making it a part of something exciting and brilliant, but it might not be so easy to get rid of these issues.
‘This Is Spinal Tap’ (Rob Reiner, 1984)
I can’t help giving a mockumentary nod to tour
This is the backbone tap. Made in 1984, but it feels like a great match when it charts the decline of a supposedly legendary 1970’s band.
Like Cameron Crowe’s film, it takes inspiration from real events and somehow captures the same mix of ambition and chaos that governs the Almost Famous tournament.
Instead of disappointment we can’t help but laugh, because the misfortunes of the band stem from not being very good. As one critic says, “What day did the Lord create the Spinal Tap and on that day he couldn’t rest?”