Tuesday Tunes: The Immortal Stars

Every once in a while, a musician’s relationship with fame, success, and talent is so tragic, inspiring or memorable, they leave a definite mark on the world and thus, a movie must be made. Whether it be the life of sex, drugs, and rock and roll that Sid and Nancy fulfilled or the rags to riches story of The Soloist, some tales need to be told via film for all the world to see. Today we look at some of the top biographies concerning famous musicians.

1. Amadeus (1984)

Amadeus is the tale of Mozart told with fresh faced enthusiasm. The story is presented from the perspective of Antonio Salierei, Mozart’s secret rival, while he sits in an insane asylum. The film embraces the drama and passion of Mozart’s life and creates an Oscar winning feature. As Roger Ebert said “This is Mozart as an eighteenth-century Bruce Springsteen, and yet (here is the genius of the movie) there is nothing cheap or unworthy about the approach.”

2. La Vie En Rose (2007)

La Vie En Rose tells the the non-linear tale of one of the most talented singers in the world. The story shows Piaf as a young, unfortunate, girl who is bounced around from one inappropriate guardian to another, while she sings on the streets for money. She is eventually recognized for her talents but her fame and success is bittersweet with the taint of tragic heartache and failing health. Marion Cotillard becomes almost unrecognizable as “The Little Sparrow”and her transformation was recognized by the Academy with an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role.  Her performance is breathtaking. 

3. Ray (2004)

Jamie Foxx is Ray Charles. The mannerisms, the look, the laugh and the flirtatious smile of the pioneer of soul are all adapted by Foxx as he steps into the singer’s shoes. This impressive transformation is flanked by excellent performances from the likes of Kerry Washington and Regina King. The story follows the humble beginnings, extreme success and internal struggles of a man that fought the odds and became one of the most celebrated stars in history. 

4. Nowhere Boy (2009)

Sam Taylor-Johnson assembled a talented young cast of actors including Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Josh Bolt, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster along with the more mature cast of actors of Kristin Scott-Thomas, David Threrfall and Colin Tierney to tell the story of John Lennon’s early years. The film takes a look at his school boy antics, familial issues and his plan to start a rock band. As the tagline says, this is “The extraordinary untold story of John Lennon.”

5. Selena (1997)

Jennifer Lopez has made some mistakes in her acting career (Gigli, Jersey Girl) but every once in a while she hits the right spot. Selena tells the real life story of Selena Quintanilla-Perez, a woman who rose to fame and stardom as a tejano singer in the 1990s. The film focuses on the problematic relationship between herself and her father as the focus of her music changes from her Tejano roots to her American upbringing. The film follows her rise to fame, her personal struggles and ultimately, her untimely and tragic death. 

Honorable Mention:  

I’m Not There (2007)

Director Todd Haynes dives into the world of Bob Dylan and presents several different aspects of the singer’s life. Using a myriad of talented actors including; Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Richard Gere, Marcus Carl Franklin and Ben Wishaw, Haynes presents the different lives that Dylan has led whether it be an actor, folk singer, or  troubadour through several different, intersecting stories. The film is more Dylan inspired, than about Dylan himself, as the trailer tell us “He is everyone. He is no one.” 

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