The Weekend Rent: Never Say Never to a Great Rock Documentary

The Weekend Rent: Never Say Never to a Great Rock Documentary

Feb 11, 2011

Got Bieber? You'll get three dimensions worth of the 16-year-old pop sensation this weekend at theaters when Justin Bieber: Never Say Never opens in theaters everywhere in 3-D. The rated G film that director Jon Chu calls "a true underdog story" has certainly got a lock on the tween set, but if you're a little older—i.e. you know who Johnny Rotten is or remember when Madonna used to accessorize with crucifixes—check out these music documentaries that still rock.

Gimme Shelter: This 1970 doc by brothers Albert and David Maysles follows the Rolling Stones 1969 world tour, which culminated in the disastrous Altamont Free Concert during which a teen was stabbed and then beaten to death by Hell's Angels guarding the stage. The film features live performances of Stones classics like "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "Under My Thumb" and "Brown Sugar" as well as performances by Ike and Tina Turner, Jefferson Airplane and Flying Burrito Brothers. Gimme Shelter is available from the Criterion Collection on both DVD and Blu-ray.

Madonna: Truth or Dare: This black-and-white documentary—except for the color onstage footage—follows her Madgesty during her 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour. There's a whole generation of people that know Madonna as a woman with an affected British accent who practices Kabbalah, collects ethnic babies like purses and makes occasional dance albums for gay clubs. Back in 1990—at the height of her mainstream popularity—we see Madge's true colors as she behaves like a spoiled diva, makes fun of Kevin Costner, yells at her manager and makes pop history in spite of it all. Truth or Dare is available only on DVD.

The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle: This mockumentary directed by Julien Temple stars punk icons the Sex Pistols. Guitarist Steve Jones plays a detective who uncovers the truth about the band through a series of set pieces. The band's manager, Malcolm McLaren, plays "The Embezzler"—a man who manipulates the band—which is pretty much the truth anyway. The movie was filmed in 1978 after singer Johnny Rotten had left the Sex Pistols, and he refused to have anything to do with this production (although he does appear in archival footage). Drummer Paul Cook and bass guitarist Sid Vicious play smaller roles in this '70s curiosity that confuses the band's legacy with myth. The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle is available only on DVD.

No Direction Home: Bob Dylan: What happens when you give Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese access to tons of archival footage and interviews with musicians who have worked with and know Bob Dylan? Well, you get Dylan himself to cooperate in this compelling documentary that traces Dylan's impact on 20th century pop culture and which also won a Peabody award. No Direction Home: Bob Dylan is only available on DVD.

This Is Spinal Tap: This 1984 mockumentary directed by Rob Reiner about the fictitious heavy metal band Spinal Tap satirizes the bizarre personal behavior and musical pretentions that most rock stars of any note are saddled with (see Madonna: Truth or Dare above). Starring and co-written by Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer, this hilarious parody of music superstardom should be viewed by today's pop stars (heads up, Bieber) as a cautionary tale before it all goes to their heads. This Is Spinal Tap is available on both DVD and Blu-ray.

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