5 Great Music Films

In a week when both Love & Mercy and Amy go on general release, The Sloth has come over all melodious. We’ve hummed through our DVD collection to bring you our favourite musical films from recent years. If you haven’t yet seen them, get watching, preferably with the volume dialled up to 11.

controlControl

It’s not just ‘coz The Sloth is a ma-hoo-sive Joy Division fan. Really it isn’t.  This biopic of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis is simply a sublime piece of filmmaking, being the feature film debut of both director Anton Corbjin and star Sam Riley, who gives an astonishing performance as the twitchy, tortured Curtis. By that logic, The Sloth wonders why more complete novices aren’t out there making BAFTA nominated films. We might give it a shot ourselves, come the next rainy Sunday afternoon.

oscar-isaac-in-inside-llewyn-davis1Inside Llewyn Davis

The Sloth has replayed Inside Llewyn Davis’s scene of Justin Trousersnake singing ‘Please Mr Kennedy’ on YouTube more times than we dare admit. And barked like a seal with sheer delight every single time. Should you have not seen these 100 mins of joy from the dark comic minds of the Coen Brothers, rectify this immediately. Not only is it chock full of bone dry humour, but it also features some beautifully sung folk music from the ludicrously talented Oscar Issac.

Poster_of_the_movie_Scott_Walker-_30_Century_ManScott Walker: 30 Century Man

No doubt you’ll have heard of The Walker Brothers, a 60’s band whose song The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Any More was a global hit. Post hits, Scott Walker went his own musical way. 30 Century Man explores what a way it was. Avant-garde doesn’t even begin to describe it. Revered to the status of legend in musical circles, Mr Walker’s work teetered on the brink of what we recognise as music. An afternoon in the studio, for example, might see him record professional percussionists methodically punching pieces of meat, as you do. Totally Bonkers.Totally brilliant.

tewneyTwenty Feet From Stardom

Seemingly a case of always the bridesmaid, never the bride, the backing singer can slug away for decades on the cusp of the limelight. But is that through choice, or are they a victim of bad luck? Documentary Twenty Feet From Stardom pulls the lid back on an unseen world where some of these supremely talented ladies have reached legend status amongst their musical peers. With interviews from the likes of Mick Jagger, this is proper, grown up, eye-opening stuff.

pitch-perfect-2-posterPitch Perfect 2

Yes, go ahead and sneer, snobby musical purists! You’re no fun and The Sloth would rather chew our own toenails than listen to you drone on about the influence of Andy Warhol on Leonard Cohen’s early works, blah blah, yawn, zzzz. We love the Pitch Perfect ladies, particularly for their sheer audacity in opening their second film with Fat Amy flashing her lady-bits to The Obamas. What more could you want? Apart from a robotic rival German group called (affect constipated voice) Das Sound Machine. Oh, they put that in too. Magic!

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Never Mind The Oscars, It’s The Slothcars

It’s Oscar time again! Cue big frocks, cringeworthy speeches and Jack Nicholson letching over the new young starlet du jour. Eew.

What a stonking year. So stonking that numerous films which surely would have been Oscar front runners in any other year have been shunted aside. To rectify this, The Sloth is awarding our very own Slothcars to the unlucky but deserving few whose nominations presumably got lost in the post. Please don your dickie bows as the red carpet is lined with paparazzi and the limos are arriving, bearing The Cumberbatch fighting off a selection of Cumberbitches, Lady Gaga wearing her own intestine and Gwynneth, who is already tearfully thanking God and Mumsnet. Oh, and Emma Thompson started too early and is chucking up in the loo.

Cue drum roll…

douglasBest Actor: Michael Douglas, Behind The Candelabra
We’ve already roundly sounded off about the homophobic disgrace that is Hollywood refusing to release this theatrically. Thankfully the UK saw sense. Douglas’ warts and all turn as the King of Camp is hilarious, tragic and totally devoid of vanity.

 

adeleBest Actress: Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue Is The Warmest Colour
The year’s most controversial film until that canny Mr Von Trier showed up. The tabloids devoted sweaty column inches to the flesh pressing, overshadowing her remarkably natural and uninhibited performance. Bonus points awarded for impressively snotty crying scenes.

 

lostBest Director: J.C. Chandor, All Is Lost
“So J, you’ve got a boat and you’ve got Robert Redford who doesn’t talk. Make that last 100 minutes”. Would you have wanted that brief? Hats off to Mr Chandor for keeping every single one of those 100 minutes nail bitingly gripping.

 

trouserBest Song: Please Mr Kennedy, Inside Llewyn Davis
We nearly ate our own toes when this wasn’t nominated, apparently due to some ridiculous Oscar small print rules. When Trousersnake busted this out we simultaneously sung along and laughed like a drain, resulted in a near-death-by-popcorn-experience.

 

rushBest Film: Rush
Tension, drama, humour, tragedy, thrills, spills. What more could you want from 90 minutes in a cinema? What’s that? Racing cars? Bingo, you got them too. Why this exceptional film received ZERO nominations is a travesty of the highest order. Makes us proper cross.

 

So that’s it. What do you think was overlooked? Let us know. In the meantime, all that stomping about the stage has left us starving so we’re off for a kebab with SJP. Laters.

Want more? Read The Sloth’s thoughts on the BAFTAs here.

 

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Inside Llewyn Davis. Coen Brothers – The Musical.

llewynThe Sloth was initially puzzled by the sound of this. The NYC 1960’s folk music scene might not seem an obvious choice for the Coen Brothers, but Inside Llewyn Davis is an utter joy from start to finish.

Llewyn (Oscar Isaac) is a musician. In the best tradition of the impoverished artist he is broke and homeless, kipping on the sofa of his friend Jim (Justin Timberlake) and Jim’s girlfriend Jean (Carey Mulligan) and bumming cigarettes off strangers. Things rarely go Llewyn’s way, partly through bad luck and partly through his own stubborn belligerence. Llewyn used to be one half of a duo who released a record to moderate success. Now solo, money comes from occasional gigs at The Gaslight Club, playing guitar and singing mournful folk songs.

Llewyn doesn’t help himself. Doggedly determined to stick to his own, uncommercial musical style, he refutes offers to join a group and rejects advice by musical industry bigwigs. The closest he comes to success is as a session musician on a ludicrously catchy and cheesey pop song, ‘Please Mr Kennedy’, written by Jim and clearly destined to be a huge hit.  But Llewyn being Llewyn chooses a quick, one-off payout over royalties.

It has all the traditional Coen Bros hallmarks – craggy faced money men in dimly lit offices, unsavoury eccentrics with questionable personal habits and lashings of dry, dark humour. More surprisingly, it has fabulous music. Oscar Isaac, singing and playing innumerable songs as Llewyn, is outstandingly good. Carey Mulligan wears shapeless acrylic sweaters and croons endearingly in Peter Paul and Mary tradition and don’t get us started on Trousersnake.

We’ve always been suspicious of anything vaguely ‘musical’ but Inside Llewyn Davis is a treat not to be missed. And mark our words, you’ll be bouncing round the house singing ‘Please Mr Kennedy’ for weeks afterwards…

UK release 24 January 2014

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