Whether the topic is politics (with Michael Moore on the left, Dinesh D’Souza on the right), sports (ESPN’s 30 for 30 series), penguins marching (uh… March of the Penguins), or global warming ( 2006′s An Inconvenient Truth), we are living in a golden age for documentary film-making. And fortunately for those of us who don’t want to bum out on how bad things are all the time, for penguins and humans, the 21st century has seen a plethora of thrilling documentaries about some of hard rock and heavy metal‘s most important and iconic bands. However, great non-fiction metal films and hard rock docs have been taking us behind the walls of Marshall stacks and inside the wailing lives of metalheads for several decades now. Being that this is Oscars week, and VH1 Classic‘s new documentary tv series Rock Icons premieres this coming Saturday, what better time to take a look back now at 15 of the very best.
The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years (1988)
Watch: Chris Holmes, live from his pool.
In 1981, director Penelope Spheeris’s The Decline of Western Civilization electrifyingly chronicled the L.A. punk scene, filming bands such as Black Flag, X, and Fear during their brief-but-bright heyday of dominating L.A.’s music scene.
Spheeris then returned seven years later to reveal those same streets awash in hair mousse, leopard-print spandex, and Headbanger’s Ball hopefuls as glam metal had completely taken over the territory.
With deadpan brilliance, Decline II intercuts interviews with ambitious poodlehead musicians (such as the guy who guarantees success for his own flashy ensemble, Wet Cherri), groupies (like two fleshy sexpots in captain’s hats and wraparound shades who assure us, “All women are bisexual!”), club owners (Riki Rachtman and Bill Gazzarri make indelible impressions) and big-ticket superstars both on the rise (Poison, Vixen) and deeply entrenched (Ozzy, Kiss, Lemmy, Alice, Aerosmith).
Decline II also showcases live performances from Faster Pussycat and a series of also-rans (London, Seduce, Odin) leading up to a ferocious final send-off from Megadeth.
The one scene for which Decline II is forever remembered, though, is a tragically uncomfortable interview with W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes while he bobs on a float in a backyard pool, insanely intoxicated. Slurring through descriptions of himself as hopeless, worthless, and alcoholic, Holmes caps the moment by dumping the contents of a vodka bottle over his head. Meanwhile, sitting a few feet away and looking understandably distressed, is Chris Holmes’s long-suffering mom. Fortunately he survived and is still around making more embarrassingly bad videos.
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2003)
Watch: Metallica: Some Kind of Monster trailer
Metallica has not come by the title “the band most hated by its own fans” easily. Serious rumblings began in 1991 when the group transformed from hardcore thrash to commercial alt-metal with Metallica aka “The Black Album.” Then they cut their hair and delved deeper into mainstream rock with Load and Re-Load. That was followed by ugliness around fans downloading Metallica’s music via Napster.
Finally, Metallica inflamed even their staunchest defenders with the documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, a simultaneously infuriating and mesmerizing chronicle of the recording of the group’s single most despised album, St. Anger.
The group brings in a Cosby-sweater-adorned “life coach” to talk them through their differences. Guitarist James Hetfield claims his addiction recovery enables him to work only scant and ludicrously specific hours. Drummer Lars Ulrich gloats over selling his multimillion-dollar modern art collection. Megadeth mastermind and original Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine sits down to discuss how the band brutally fired him in the early ’80s.
Witnessing Hetfield and Ulrich act like entitled jerks in Monster remains one of cinema’s supreme masochistic pleasures. The irony, however, is that once the smoke from Monster and Anger cleared, fans viewed through group with fresh affection. For the biggest hard rock band of all time to allow themselves to come off looking so petty and rotten only qualifies as brave. Some Kind of Monster humanized Metallica, and the years since have been good for all involved—both on-stage and in the pit.
In the last three years, Anna Kendrick‘s career has exploded. Thanks to the little a cappella flick that could, Pitch Perfect, the 29-year-old actress has been the go-to girl for all-things movie musical. And now, she’s starring in the most heartbreaking of them all, Richard LaGravenese‘s The Last Five Years.
In the big screen adaptation of Jason Robert Brown‘s original production, in theaters and VOD now, Kendrick plays Cathy, a struggling actress whose marriage crumbles amidst the success of her distracted husband’s (Jeremy Jordan) novelist career.
If the fact that this film is preceded byInto the Woods and followed by Pitch Perfect 2 is any indication, the actress’ singing ability is no fluke. For further proof, here are her 10 greatest musical moments.
“Life Upon the Wicked Stage” (My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies special, 1998)
Kendrick got her start as a fetus, basically, in a Broadway production of High Society, which earned her a Tony nomination at age 12. Here she is, at Carnegie Hall, performing “Life Upon the Wicked Stage” with the Kit Kat Girls of Cabaret around the same time.
“Ladies Who Lunch” (Camp, 2003)
If you want to know what a boss looks like, just check out Kendrick in this cult classic. The actress plays Fritzi, a kicked-around musical theater camper who sabotages and one-ups the Queen Bee she so loyally followed. Karma’s a bad bitch.
“No Diggity,” (Pitch Perfect, 2012)
Everyone knows the lyrics to Blackstreet‘s “No Diggity,” but no one makes it sound as sexy as she does. Screw the cup, this is AK’s most unforgettable performance in the film that unexpectedly made her a mega star.
Watch Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow discuss Pitch Perfect:
Brazil soccer legend Ronaldo — considered one of the greatest players EVER — has touched down in Beverly Hills … and last night he weighed in on the great soccer debate — Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo.
The argument has been raging for years — with people claiming each superstar has a valid claim to be called “The Greatest.” In fact, some people have said they’re the two best players of all time.
So, when Ronaldo was leaving Madeo … where he had the veal milanese by the way … we had to ask if he thought Messi deserved to be called #1.
Bonus — wanna see why Ronaldo’s considered a god? Check out the clip below …