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10 Music Documentaries You Should See After The Greatest Night in Pop | Features


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Stop Making Sense” (1984)

In the late 1970s, Talking Heads were a brainy New York postpunk group playing CBGB. By the time they released their 1983 album “Speaking in Tongues,” they were practically pop stars, riding high on their hit single “Burning Down the House.” Directed by Jonathan Demme, who would go on to win the Oscar for “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Stop Making Sense” witnessed the group at the height of their powers on tour as they expanded their lineup to include backup singers and ace instrumentalists like keyboardist Bernie Worrell. No concert film better captured the intensity and intimacy of a band on stage, Demme rejecting the cheesy cutaways to the crowd that had become familiar in the genre. Any theater that plays “Stop Making Sense” becomes a dance party pretty damn soon, with audiences thrilling to frontman David Byrne’s chameleonic, performance-art showmanship. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event.

“Dig!” (2004)

Great movies have been made about infamous rivalries, but few of them are as messy as the one depicted in “Dig!” Spotlighting two bands (and two frontmen) who were initially friends, Ondi Timoner’s documentary spends approximately seven years with the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre, watching as one becomes successful and the other one implodes. The film is a riveting look at Courtney Taylor-Taylor and Anton Newcombe, polar opposites who led their respective groups, asking the audience to question what exactly “selling out” means — and whether self-destructing is a sign of punk purity or a lack of discipline. Both bands denounced “Dig!,” but for music lovers who want to see the pettiness, vanity and competitiveness of rock ‘n’ roll laid bare, the movie is a total banger. (And keep an eye out for a great new anniversary cut of the film that just premiered at Sundance.)

“Under Great White Northern Lights” (2009)

When the White Stripes first rose to prominence, guitarist Jack White and drummer Meg White insisted they were siblings, even though journalists quickly started to discover the truth: They had actually been married for a brief time. The ruse might have been shattered, but it nonetheless added to this garage-rock duo’s mystique, which was on full display in this stunning documentary about the band’s 2007 tour of Canada. Emmett Malloy, who had directed a few White Stripes videos with his brother Brendan, highlighted the group’s primitive power on stage, but what makes “Under Great White Northern Lights” so arresting is what else he finds on the road. Jack and Meg might have gotten divorced, but they remained soulmates of a sort, and Malloy respectfully probes that complicated relationship, offering all kinds of clues as to why the White Stripes would close up shop not long after. The film chronicled the band’s very last tour — they went out in a blaze of glory.

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