50 greatest music films ever

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A right song and dance: Gilbert and Sullivan's 'The Mikado' gets a screen outing in Mike Leigh's 'Topsy Turvy'


5

Topsy-Turvy

(Mike Leigh, 1999)Leigh’s Gilbert and Sullivan film is arguably also his finest; an improbable (to those not especially enamoured of the pair’s operettas) masterpiece that manages the rare feat of making us understand how much the world has changed since the historical era on view – well, mightn’t you have been wary of telephones, too? But more importantly, this superbly performed account of how ‘The Mikado’ came about is a spot-on (and inevitably self-reflexive) study of the creative process in all its messy complexity. Oh, and it actually makes the music seem pretty good, after all. Geoff Andrew
Greatest hit
It's Mike Leigh, so scenes of rehearsals rather than of a finished performance of ‘The Mikado’ take precedence.What Time Out critics have said about the film

4

24 Hour Party People

(Michael Winterbottom, 2002) Steve Coogan is the unreliable narrator as the Factory Records boss and Granada TV reporter Tony Wilson, setting the tone for Michael Winterbottom’s frenetic tour through the Manchester music scene of the late ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s via Joy Division, A Certain Ratio, New Order and the Happy Mondays. Frank Cottrell Boyce’s script is very funny and never more so than when spoken by Coogan as Wilson – ‘a minor character in my own story’ – who frequently breaks the narrative and addresses the audience, even at one moment pointing to the real Tony Wilson in a two-second cameo. The film manages to feel utterly real while still freely admitting that it’s trading in myth-making. How many other films would dare to sketch the first meeting of Shaun Ryder and Bez by having the latter land in Manchester in a UFO? Dave CalhounGreatest hit A young Ryder (Danny Cunningham) and his brother Paul (Paul Popplewell) feed rat poison to 3,000 pigeons.What Time Out critics have said about the film

3

Gimme Shelter

(David Maysles/Albert Maysles/Charlotte Zwerin, 1970)Brothers David and Albert Maysles couldn’t possibly have predicted the events that would unfold as their cameras rolled on a chilly December day in 1969 during a free Rolling Stones gig at the Altamont Speedway, nor the sociological significance the finished film would assume. The American filmmakers were unaware of what they’d recorded until... READ MOREWhat Time Out critics have said about the film

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Maximum Bob: Dylan's shades-indoors look proved timeless, the filmmaker's top hat, less so

2

Don’t Look Back

(DA Pennebaker, 1967)
It seems a shame to leave Martin Scorsese’s epic and mind-blowing ‘No Direction Home’ documentary on Bob Dylan off our list, but without DA Pennebaker’s film from four decades earlier, there would be no ‘No Direction Home’. Nor would there be Todd Haynes’ new film, ‘I’m Not There’, in which Cate Blanchett’s turn as Dylan in the mid-’60s is heavily indebted to the musician’s energetic, petulant and wired appearance in this film of his 1965 tour of Britain.Most memorable are his weird encounters with the press, from the journalist at the beginning of the tour who asks him to put an exact figure on the number of protest singers in existence in the world at that very moment to the corpulent, odd character from Time magazinewho sits in near-silence listening to a rant from Dylan about their differing interests and who looks as if he’s enduring an encounter with a being from another planet – which isn’t so far from the truth.As well as offering early evidence of the developing battle between the music world and the press, Pennebaker is right there in Dylan’s hotel room when he's throwing a fit about someone chucking a glass out of the window or when he’s sitting back and listening to fellow traveller Donovan singing and playing guitar. Pennebaker – whose reputation was made with this film – is also there in the back of the car with Dylan and manager Albert Grossman after gigs, and as they travel around a country that still looks too backwards to accommodate him, his talent and his ego. Dave CalhounGreatest hit The meeting between Albert Grossman and a Denmark Street talent agent as they try to negotiate a fee for Dylan to appear on British television. What Time Out critics have said about the film

1

Superstar: the Karen Carpenter Story

(Todd Haynes, 1987)
Not to be confused with the distinctly ropey TV movie, ‘The Karen Carpenter Story’, which emerged two years later, this is Todd Haynes’ version of the fragile American singer’s story – told with emaciated Barbie dolls, archive footage, fake talking heads and ample, unauthorised use of The Carpenters’ music. If all this sounds a little mocking, even distasteful... READ MOREWhat Time Out critics have said about the filmTop 50 index | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-6 | 5-1

Author: Dave Calhoun. Written by Derek Adams, Geoff Andrew, Dave Calhoun, Wally Hammond, Michael Hodges, Martin Horsfield, Martin Hoyle, David Jenkins, Trevor Johnston, Eddy Lawrence, Sharon O'Connell, Chris Parkin, Graeme Thomson, Peter Watts

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