In the 2000 comedy-drama High Fidelity, John Cusack plays a music snob that makes Top 5 lists to represent his prophetic belief in music. He and his band of “music moron twins” spend their time picking apart one another’s music tastes, as well as those of their customers. In reverence to the music films that make the hairs on the back of our neck rise from the unadulterated surge of pure inspiration, we have put together a Top 5 list of some of our favorite music films.
5). Detroit Rock City (1999)
In the height of the awkwardness of high school in the 70s, four metalhead bandmates that love KISS decide to travel to Detroit to see the band live at any cost. The absolutely hysterical film rocks hard and creates a funny dichotomy between disco and metal. A favorite scene is when the boys dose a priest with psilocybin mushrooms to sneak their friend out of boarding school.
What Detroit Rock City can connect to in all of us is what it felt like to be a teenager who only identified with the records, CDs, and mp3 tracks that spoke to their little hormone filled souls. It is truly a laugh out loud film with a soundtrack that rocks and rolls. Seventeen years later, Detroit Rock City still speaks to the curious and rebellious teenager that lives on in all of us.
4). Once (2006)
Never has my jaw dropped during a movie the way it did when I watched Once. This film is practically a homage to the way that beautiful music manifests love within the confines of its creation. In its first scenes, a street performer and vacuum repairman meets a flower sales girl and fellow musician. From the get go, it’s clear that the two are meant to perform together.
The soundtrack solely features the two main actors in the film, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. The melodic and beautiful sounds of his haunting voice paired with her effortless piano stay with you long after the end credits roll. It is no shock that the two created a group and toured together, and the confusing but powerful chemistry in the film also makes it no surprise that the two dated briefly. Prepare to have all of the feels as you cry and get chills during this dramatic indie musical.
3). The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
When I first found this film I couldn’t believe that it took me so long. I laughed, I cried, I became overcome with a need to create; these are the signs of a good music film in my book. Priscilla is a giant pink bus that carries four fabulous Australian drag stars on a trip through the outback to perform. The hi-jinx’s that ensue are hilarious, melodramatic, and thought provoking. A favorite scene is when they perform for an indigenous tribe in the middle of the desert. I dare you not to be inspired as Guy Pearce’s spunky character rides atop Priscilla in the most epic of silver gowns set to the enchanting aria “Sempre Libera” from Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA.
Related: The Top 5 Types of Movie Soundtracks
2). Frank (2014)
Frank has all of the makings of a phenomenal indie film right down to casting Maggie Gyllenhaal into one of the lead roles. Quirky, but strange frontman Frank wears a large fake head everywhere that he goes. Even with the mask on, his voice manages to sound like a mixture of Elvis and sweet dripping honey. The strange conglomerate of characters that makes up the band decides to venture out to the woods to make their next album.
Told from the perspective of an outsider that has been accepted into the group at the last minute, Frank takes a deep look at the pressure artists sometimes put on themselves to create the soundtracks of our lives. Frank will leave the writer inspired to write, the musician inspired to create, and any other human just simply inspired.
1). High Fidelity (2000)
There’s just something about John Cusack that is hard to resist whether he’s playing the protagonist in a heartfelt drama like Serendipity or an elitist music snob in High Fidelity, a critically acclaimed cult favorite.
The plot of High Fidelity surrounds Cusack, a young record store owner that is neither failing nor succeeding. He and his pretentious co-workers spend their time making Top 5 lists so that they can mock (and sometimes admire) one another for their music tastes. The movie’s soundtrack features many of the greats including Elvis Costello, Janis Joplin, the Velvet Underground, and the 13th Floor Elevators.
I watch High Fidelity at least twice a year because of the painstaking dissection of the love for music that beats within the hearts of its characters. Throughout the film, Cusack’s somewhat narcissistic character travels through his past loves in a Top 5 Greatest Heartbreaks while relating almost every single bit of it to his relationship to his true love of music.
Honorable mentioned goes to Pulp Fiction, Almost Famous, and Dazed and Confused.
Article by Cara Wietstock. For more from Cara, visit her website.
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