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Best Concert Films/Rockumentaries. 
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Post Best Concert Films/Rockumentaries.
I was cleaning stuff out of my room the other day and happened across an old issue of Moviemaker magazine (that, Filmmaker and Film Comment are the only film mags I read on a semi-regular basis). In it there was an article on the then recently released Shine A Light and a listing of what was considered to be the best concert films and rockumentaries of all-time. On MM's list were obvious suspects like Woodstock and Monterey Pop as well as a few that I will list below.

So what would you pick as the best concert films and rockumentaries of all-time.

My top 5:

1: The Last Waltz. With Goodfellas Scorsese gave us the greatest mob movie ever. With The Last Waltz he does the same for the concert film. I like The Band although I'm more of a casual fan than a devoted one. But the music in this film never grows old. Scorsese was wise to hire a long list of renowned cinemtographers like Michael Chapman and Laszlo Kovacs to shoot this film. He also applies many of the techniques he uses in his feature films (knowing what to show and when to show it) and the result is a concert film that works as a fantastic piece of cinema, even if you're not a fan of The Band.

Stop Making Sense. While I'm a casual fan of The Band, I love Talking Heads. But like with Scorsese's film, you don't have to be a major fan of them to enjoy Stop Making Sense. Unlike the Scorsese film, this one features no guest artists. But the way it's filmed and the way the music is performed means its never boring. Jonathan Demme knows how to make a great concert film.

Gimme Shelter. Part Rolling Stones and guest stars concert, part depiction of an illusion being brutally punctured. The Maysles Brothers capture the flickering flame of the sixties before it goes out. See this for the great music sure. But it also works as an antidote to mindless 60s nostalgia.

Monterey Pop. Less dated than Woodstock and with better performances to boot.

Standing In The Shadows Of Motown. The most recent and least known doc on my list, this one takes a look at the Funk Brothers, the house band that played on all those Motown hits. Now if someone would do a documentary like this on Chess records.

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Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:00 pm
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Post Re: Best Concert Films/Rockumentaries.
For me, it's Woodstock.

The vast majority of concert films are pathetic. A blessed few are put together by somebody who has some kind of grasp of technique and a coherent vision of how to use it, but even then, it's hard to see them as anything more than an inadequate document of the event.

Woodstock goes beyond all that. Rather than obscure, as in so many concert movies, the technique in Woodstock reveals something about the performances. Furthermore, it doesn't have to presume any greater cultural importance for the event, because it actually is important. It's a moment in time, captured as vividly as film can, in as many facets as can be captured.

And the performances by Alvin Lee and Jimi Hendrix are pretty damn sweet.


Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Post Re: Best Concert Films/Rockumentaries.
Scorsese's marathon documentary on Bob Dylan is one of my favorites
Rob


Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:23 pm
Post Re: Best Concert Films/Rockumentaries.
The best concert films have pretty much already been listed. I think I've said this on here before somewhere, but for me the three essentials are Stop Making Sense, Woodstock, and The Last Waltz.

More recently I watched a lesser known Jonathan Demme concert film, Storefront Hitchcock. I wrote about it briefly on here:

Blonde Almond wrote:
Storefront Hitchcock: a Jonathan Demme concert film consisting primarily of a solo performance by Robyn Hitchcock, a sort of cult figure in the musical world probably best known for the Soft Boys album Underwater Moonlight. Nobody knows how to construct a concert film quite like Demme; despite an extremely limited setting (Hitchcock is literally performing in a store window), Demme keeps things visually interesting the whole way through, using long takes and different lighting for every song. Hitchcock himself is an entertaining performer, although he tends to go on long, rambling monologues between songs. Sometimes these are funny; most of the time they’re pretentiously nonsensical. He’s best when playing the numbers, which are consistently excellent. Yes, the film isn’t as masterful as Stop Making Sense, but anyone who appreciates Demme’s style of concert film-making should give this one a look. 8/10.


I still stand by that rating. It doesn't ascend to the ranks of the best concert films, but it's quick and entertaining, and streaming instantly on Netflix.

Robert Holloway wrote:
Scorsese's marathon documentary on Bob Dylan is one of my favorites
Rob


That's a very good one. He's also been working on a George Harrison documentary for quite some time now that I'm really excited about. It's currently in post-production.


Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:32 pm
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Post Re: Best Concert Films/Rockumentaries.
Stop Making Sense ranks as my favorite.

Ken wrote:
For me, it's Woodstock.

The vast majority of concert films are pathetic. A blessed few are put together by somebody who has some kind of grasp of technique and a coherent vision of how to use it, but even then, it's hard to see them as anything more than an inadequate document of the event.

Woodstock goes beyond all that. Rather than obscure, as in so many concert movies, the technique in Woodstock reveals something about the performances. Furthermore, it doesn't have to presume any greater cultural importance for the event, because it actually is important. It's a moment in time, captured as vividly as film can, in as many facets as can be captured.

And the performances by Alvin Lee and Jimi Hendrix are pretty damn sweet.


Anytime this comes on TV, I will watch it. The performances are fantastic; Canned Heat is my personal favorite and any time one can see Joe Cocker go tilt-bug-fuck-crazy on "With A Little Help From My Friends", well that's a good thing.


Mon Apr 25, 2011 12:12 pm
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Post Re: Best Concert Films/Rockumentaries.
Sorry for being unoriginal - but hell yeah: Woodstock. Santana with the brilliant Michael Shrieve on drums and Gregg Rolie on the mighty Hammond B3 anyone? Wonderful Joan Baez? The Who with Pete Townshend giving it all (including bleeding fingers)? Jimi Hendrix playing way after schedule, almost as an afterthought, and still being able to show that he was a pioneering guitar hero genius (playing a standard right handed Fender Stratocaster without inverting the strings, just turning it around - being a leftie, so he had to re-invent all fingerings for himself - that's as awesome as it gets).
I could go on and on and on. Masterpiece! If there will ever be a definitive uncut, digitally restored BluRay (there is a DVD version close to that, but not quite...) I'll run like hell to buy it.


Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:21 pm
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Post Re: Best Concert Films/Rockumentaries.
Threeperf35 wrote:
Jimi Hendrix playing way after schedule, almost as an afterthought, and still being able to show that he was a pioneering guitar hero genius (playing a standard right handed Fender Stratocaster without inverting the strings, just turning it around - being a leftie, so he had to re-invent all fingerings for himself - that's as awesome as it gets)


Personally, I always thought the inverted righty Strat looked rather lame. You'd think after collecting all those royalties from his first 3 singles he'd have been able to get a custom-made lefty one. :| And BTW, he didn't reinvent the fingerings; he just re-strung the strings in reverse order. Paul McCartney also did this with his Martin D28 acoustic on which he wrote "Yesterday" a year or two before Jimi burst on the scene. Granted, the only thing that gives away that that guitar was actually a right-handed guitar is the pick guard being upside down.


Fri Jun 24, 2011 10:59 pm
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