Uncovering the Mystery of Modern Rock n’ Roll
The Best Rock Documentaries from the Last 15 Years
Rock n’ roll is fueled by the power of mystique. The greatest musicians from the past 50 years used mystery as a way of creating energy and hype amongst their fan bases. From Bob Dylan to Radiohead, the power of privacy and uncertainty is a reliable tool in growing popularity and credibility. Dylan described this perfectly when he said, “All I can do is be me, whoever that is.” He was best known for creating deception and refusing to define himself. For this reason, many of the best rock documentaries were about Bob Dylan. Unlike any other medium, documentaries uncover the mystery that is so attractive in rock n’ roll. They are inspiring, jaw dropping, and full of incredible music. These are the best rock documentaries from the last 15 years.
DIG! – 2004
There are many reasons to love this documentary, but timeliness might be the biggest one. The film takes place in the late ’90s and early 2000s after the boom of alternative music. The focus is The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, two rock bands very close in friendship, but very different in their direction as creative forces. The documentary uncovers disastrous relationships within the music industry, the perils of substance abuse, and the beginning of vintage rock revival in modern music.
Many critics attribute The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols for paving the way for acts like The White Stripes and The Strokes. While the appeal of grunge bands from the ’90s faded away, this new brand of rock n’ roll gained momentum. What sets this documentary apart more than anything else is the music. The film is a perfect playlist for any modern rock junky.
Shut Up and Play the Hits – 2012
If you’ve seen LCD Soundsystem perform, you’re probably a fan. They are easily one of the most popular live bands from the past 20 years due to their blend of multiple genres including rock and dance music. The band has an energy and appeal on stage that is contagious. What makes this documentary so special is the director’s ability to capture the power of their live set with the use of a camera. The documentary follows the band as they prepare for their final show at Madison Square Garden.
The concert footage is intertwined with moments surrounding the show including James Murphy’s (lead singer) morning routine, and the band huddling up before they start their set. The movie does an incredible job of capturing the emotion of preparing for inevitable death. The band knows this is their last performance together, which naturally creates an unforgettable story line. If you aren’t an LCD fan before watching this film, you will be as the final credits start to roll.
AMY – 2015
With an artist as talented and mysterious as Amy Winehouse, it is seemingly impossible to create a bad documentary about her life. With that being said, this film explored her emotional side like any other documentary has been able to accomplish before. Perhaps the use of the film’s nostalgic handheld style of shooting is the cause of that. The documentary details the dynamic relationships with her boyfriend, father and fans. It is an emotional rollercoaster that will challenge your ability to hold back a flood of tears.
It Might Get Loud – 2008
Besides Jimmy Page’s facial expressions while playing the guitar, the best part of this documentary is the timeline of rock n’ roll covered by these three legendary musicians. You have Jimmy Page who dominated the ’70s, The Edge who controlled the ’80s and ’90s, and Jack White who has been somewhat of a rock n’ roll savior in the ’00s.
The documentary is focused around a conversation between the three musicians in a vacant warehouse. All three are equipped with their favorite guitars and favorite stories from the past. The conversation that unfolds is honest and engaging. They seem genuinely interested in squeezing out as much as they can from one another because each one of them represents an entirely different approach to the guitar. The Edge relies heavily on effects, whereas Jack White prefers a stripped down approach to his playing. The three meet somewhere in the middle and create some very exciting moments for any fan of popular music.