Ah, movies. A delightful medium that we all enjoy. Add some music on top of that? A perfect marriage of visual and auditory art that can keep you occupied for hours. Lucky for us, YouTube is home to some wonderful reuploaded music-based films, and we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, so you’ve got all the time in the world. Maybe you’ve already watched everything on Netflix, or perhaps you’ve grown tired of Hulu recommending that you rewatch Doogie Howser, M.D. for the 5th time. Here’s a list that might be able to help. So sit back, relax (as much as you can in today’s world), and enjoy. 

Head

Linked for your pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4nT-5DyjX0

Starting off strong with The Monkees’ underappreciated film (and one of my all-time favorites), Head. A psychedelic and at times a nonsensical piece of media, the film was a commercial flop back in 1968 but has started to gain a cult following as the years have gone on. The film is considered a satirical musical film and some credit it with being the downfall of The Monkees’ careers, but that would be a shallow and naive look at their work during the later part of the 1960s. I wish I could describe a plot, but in order to understand this film, you simply must experience it for yourself. The film includes some fun cameos as well, including Frank Zappa and Toni Basil (who also choreographed the dance sequence she takes part in). In my opinion, it’s worth watching for the psychedelic aesthetic and The Monkees alone, but the fantastic soundtrack doesn’t hurt. 

Cucumber Castle

Linked for your pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiAvgBXjEik

I’m going to admit something: I’m quite biased towards this made-for-TV film simply due to the fact that I would kill and die for each member of the Bee Gees. You know, just casual fan things. Like I alluded to before, this film was a TV special that aired the day after Christmas in 1970. Those British children were sure in for a treat. A confusing treat filled with plot holes and nonsense, but a treat nonetheless. After the brief departure of Robin Gibb from the group, Maurice and Barry Gibb decided to film this with the help of several celebrity cameos: Vincent Price (why did he agree to this?), Britain’s “It Girl” Lulu (who was married to Maurice Gibb at the time), and even the Gibb’s little brother, Andy (who would become a pop star in his own right later in the decade).

The film is a story about two brothers who inherit a kingdom and must split it down the middle. Hilarity ensues, music is sung, and you’re left thinking “who in their right mind greenlit this piece of junk?” But, God is it fun. Through elaborate sets and strangely good cinematography, Cucumber Castle is a wonderful excuse to turn off your brain for a bit and laugh at the hijinks that follow our two heroes. The costumes are wonderful, the soundtrack is fabulous, and who doesn’t love the Bee Gees, am I right? 

Stop Making Sense (1984)

(source: https://www.amazon.com/Movie-Making-Sense-Japan-KIBF-1343/dp/B00V8Y7SQ6)

Linked for your pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-1PXYM135I

Our first concert film on the list! Filmed over 4 nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater in December of 1983, this movie gives you exactly what you would expect from a Talking Heads concert and more. If you didn’t see the Talking Heads live in the ‘80s (which I’m assuming you didn’t unless you’re over the age of 45), their upbeat and visually stunning style translates wonderfully on the stage, and seeing it second-hand doesn’t take away from this fact at all. The quality is amazing, the performance itself is breathtaking, and you can truly watch this over and over again without getting bored. Quick life hack for all those out there who are tragically attracted to men, ask them on the first date how they feel about Talking Heads. If they say anything remotely negative, run the other way. 

Bob Dylan: Don’t Look Back

Linked for your pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-94ydQGO1AA

Focused around Bob Dylan’s 1965 concert tour around England, Don’t Look Back is a fascinating look into the behind-the-scenes activities of a music legend. This documentary creates the feeling of viewing it as if you’re a fly on the wall, present for all the ups, downs, and everything in between. The film shows a very aggressive and confrontational young Dylan, yet you can’t help but be captivated by his thoughts. There is also an air of aesthetic importance that flows through the film, which apparently the Library of Congress agreed with, as the film was chosen to be preserved in the United States National Film Registry in 1998. A 10/10 for any Bob Dylan fans, or for that particularly niche-oriented friend we all seem to have (it’s me, I’m the friend). 

That Thing You Do!

(source: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/that_thing_you_do)

Linked for your pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F16SY9DIvdQ

That Thing You Do! (1996) is a favorite of my father’s and is now on YouTube to watch for free (though there are ads… damn you, capitalism). Written, directed by, and starring national treasure Tom Hanks, the film follows a band, The Wonders, as they go from unknowns to having a hit song in the mid-1960s. I won’t give any spoilers, because you truly just have to watch it, but you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll sing along. The set design is absolutely phenomenal and immerses you directly into the time period while simultaneously giving us an aesthetically pleasing film. The same can be said about the costuming and hair design. I truly can’t say enough great things about how the film looks. On top of this, it’s fantastically written (everyone say thank you, Mr. Hanks) and will give you and your friends one-liners to say for the rest of your lives. The soundtrack is one that not only carries the film, but also one that can be listened to and enjoyed independently. The film’s namesake song That Thing You Do!, received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, and personally, I think that this film deserves every award ever going forward. It’s just that good.