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Sing your life: Our favorite musically inclined movies

AiPT! discuss their favorite musically inclined movies.

What is your favorite musical movie?

Michael Compton: Not the most popular pic when it comes to movies about music but I love 24 Hour Party People. Starring Steve Coogan as defeated TV news reporter turned head of Factory Records Tony Wilson, Coogan comically chronicles the rise of Joy Division, the suicide of lead vocalist Ian Curtis and the band’s reassembly as New Order.

Jason Segarra: I do love Wayne’s World, but I have to shout out Miami Connection’s Dragon Sound as maybe the best in-movie band of all time, and more people need to go out and see what Corey Feldman’s Rock ‘N’ Roll High School Forever does to the words Rock ‘n’ Roll, but my favorite music-centric movie is almost assuredly Top Secret. This spy/war/teen heartthrob spoof is such an underrated classic filled with great spins on classic music of the 50s and 60s and the single greatest performance of Val Kilmer’s career. Hits like “Skeet Surfing” and “Straighten the Rug” are fun earworms that will stick with you long after the movie, and the blend of comedy and some genius camera makes Top Secret one of the best comedies of the 80s.

Nathan Simmons: I’m starting to wonder if Jason and I were separated at birth, because I also believe that Dragon Sound are the absolute jam and one of my favorite thrift shop finds in recent memory was the Top Secret! soundtrack on vinyl.

I almost want to give this spot to Josie and the Pussycats, which is criminally underrated and has a soundtrack that just rips. However, my favorite music/musical film has to be Christopher Guest’s 1996 mockumentary Waiting for Guffman. While the majority of the musical numbers don’t occur until the last act of the film, it’s an awkwardly hilarious look at small town community theatre. The performances are bonkers across the board, but there’s an earnestness to the whole thing that you can’t help but fall in love with. The movie is a blast, an absolute master class in cringe comedy. “Everybody dance!”

Justin Cohen: This is a hard choice for me, as there are a few films that come to mind that are all quite different. I love 8 Mile as I’m a big Eminem fan, I love Almost Famous not only as a fan of music but because it’s an incredible film, and Les Miserables is one of the best musicals I’ve seen. With all that said, I’m going with South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. The songs are hilarious and I listened to them endlessly when I was younger. I still love it today and watch it every now and again. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are geniuses and this animated, R-rated musical is still the best of its kind to this day.

Who gives the best performance you have ever seen in a musical movie?

Michael: The single best performance in a film about music hands down has to be F. Murray Abraham’s iconic turn as Italian classical composer Antonio Salieri in Miloš Forman’s 1984 masterpiece, Amadeus. Never has the portrayal of an antagonist been at once so deliciously evil and utterly relatable.

Jason: I don’t think the movie has aged as well as many of its reviews would suggest, but I really enjoyed Reese Witherspoon’s turn as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line. The actress hasn’t always been my favorite, but she shines as the understated songstress with a bit of fire behind her wide eyes. The fact that she sang her own songs in the movie also helped cement Witherspoon as one to watch, in my eyes.

Nathan: The movie as a whole isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but Penn Badgley is nothing short of mesmerizing as Jeff Buckley in Greetings from Tim Buckley. Badgley, who is currently crushing on Netflix’s YOU, gives a subtly complex performance as the younger Buckley. He’s guarded, insecure, angry, charming, and just a little bit pretentious. While his vocals don’t quite match the late rocker, he has Jeff’s mannerisms down pat and imbues the musical performances with a sort of reserved fury that fits the role perfectly. His rendition of “Once I Was” is heartbreaking.

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Justin: A performance that stands out to me is Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables. His voice is so good and he just nails the performance in that film. I remember leaving really impressed with everyone, but especially him.

What is your favorite song? 

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Michael: My favorite song in movie is liable to change by the hour but what comes to mind at the moment is David Bowie’s “Cat People” from the Paul Schrader film of the same name. The song was reused to decent effect in the Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds as well as Atomic Blonde starring Charlize Theron.

Jason: There are a lot of good options here, so it’s hard to pick one. I love the “Tequila” dance from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, the effortless charm of the “Tiny Dancer” moment from Almost Famous, and I definitely want to show some love to the dream sequence from the Big Lebowski set to “Just Dropped In,” but since the question is more about which song we like the most, I have to give some props to Kavinsky’s “Night Call” from the movie Drive. It’s a banger that just makes you feel like the coolest person in the world while you listen to it. Drive may have been more style than substance, but when you’re this stylish, who can argue with the results?

Nathan: Honestly, pick any Spinal Tap song and I’m likely to agree with you! Major props to “Gimme Some Money” for being genuinely catchy and “Stonehenge” for featuring in the most memorable set piece from the film.

Justin: “Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King. Enough said.

What musician/band would you like to see a movie about?

Michael: It’d be fun to see a tongue-in-cheek biopic on Van Halen. The bands internal strife, rooted largely in their revolving door of lead singers, could make for interesting comedy or drama. Plus, the soundtrack would be riot.

Jason: I’d love to see a movie about Tom Waits – preferably with Ron Perlman playing the man himself. The dude’s career has been a rambling, meandering ride, with a sound that ranged from traditional jazz to avante garde art weirdness that would make for one hell of a sonic journey. Failing that, give me a fictionalized look at Metallica by Adam McKay. Put Paul Rudd in as Lars, Jason Sudeikis as James, Al Madrigal as Kirk Hammet, Bill Hader as Cliff Burton, Sean William Scott as Jason Newstead, and WWE’s Roman Reigns as Robert Trujillo. Hollywood: DM me for the script.

Nathan: Seriously, who do I have to pay to get that Metallica movie from Jason’s dreams??

Justin: I know some people would laugh at this one, but I’d love to see a movie about blink-182. They came up in the punk scene and were one of the bands that founded the subgenre of pop punk that blew up in the mid-late 90’s along with Green Day. They were best friends who started this band in one of their parent’s garages and it spiraled into years of drama and internal strife that’s still going on to this day. Tom DeLonge left the band in 2005, then Travis Barker got into a near fatal plane crash that killed almost everyone else on board which led to the band reuniting in 2009, just for Tom to leave again/get kicked out in 2015. Now Matt Skiba (of Alkaline Trio) is filling Tom’s shoes but it still doesn’t feel as if the story will end there. An eventual film could be really entertaining, or maybe I’m just biased because I’m a big fan.

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