The greatest movies featuring Rock Stars on DVD…
1: THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH
The Film: Possibly the greatest example of a rock star merging with an onscreen role, the man who’d made himself into interplanetary icon Ziggy Stardust was the perfect choice to play the alien lead role in Nicolas Roeg’s mind-blasting science fiction drama. As the enigmatic Thomas Jerome Newton, David Bowie comes to Earth in order to save his planet from extinction, but ends up falling prey to the eternal vices of drink, sex, and making impenetrable concept albums.
The Disc: The R2 disc has a documentary, trailer and publicity brochure- but the brand new R1 Criterion Collection edition is the one to go for, with commentaries from Roeg and Bowie, a ton of interviews, galleries and essays, as well as a reprint of the original novel.
Classic Moment: Newton reveals his true alien visage (including cat-like eyes and missing genitalia) to his girlfriend, who really doesn’t like what she sees…
2: A HARD DAY’S NIGHT
The Film: Pop Cinema gets launched into the stratosphere thanks to the energetic misadventures of the Fab Four, and Richard Lester’s black-and-white marvel captures the birth of Beatlemania in all its glory. Following John, Paul, George and Ringo on their journey to a TV performance, the four stars dodge screaming girls, find time for verbal sparring with Steptoe and Son’s Wilfrid Bramble, and generally make playing themselves look deceptively easy.
The Disc: Miramax’s 2-disc edition gives a landmark film its dues, with a brace of interviews from cast and crew, vintage footage, plus original documentary “Things They Said Today.”
Classic Moment: On the run from their minders, the Fab Four go wild in a playing field to the sounds of “Can’t Buy Me Love”
The Film: The Material Girl’s quest for cinematic glory may have seen her sink to the depths of Swept Away, but Madonna has managed the occasional home run- and none more spectacular than Alan Parker’s gleefully OTT adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera. Following everybody’s favourite dictator’s wife Eva Peron on her rise from poverty to politics, it’s a riot of music and song, and Madonna holds it together with the kind of charisma and star power she’s rarely shown since.
The Disc: Interactive Menus? Scene Selection? Monsieur Entertainment In Video, with these special features, you are really spoiling us…
Classic Moment: Ms. Peron takes the microphone at the victory celebrations, and tells the Argentinians something about not crying for her…
4: 8 MILE
The Film: Banishing memories of Vanilla Ice into the hell where they belong, white bad-boy rapper Eminem made the leap into movies and stunned the hell out of everybody expecting him to fall flat on his face. Curtis Hanson handles the nuanced direction, while Mr M. Mathers is Rabbit, a wannabe rapper in the decaying suburbs of Detroit who’s searching for the right way out of the ghetto and into a better life.
The Disc: Hardly a bumper crop for the Slim Shady-appreciating gentleman about town, with only a pair of featurettes, music videos and a trailer to shake your thang to.
Classic Moment: At his lowest point, Rabbit faces off against his drunken mother (Kim Basinger) in a brutal argument.
5: FIGHT CLUB
The Film: Have a moment’s pity for poor Meat Loaf Aday. The portly singer of Bat Out of Hell finally slims down from his previous lard-heavy physique¬– and then, for his role in David Fincher’s psychomania masterpiece, he has to don a gigantic latex fat-suit with added cleavage-enhancing bitch-tits. Still, it did give him his finest cinematic moment as weepy, ex-bodybuilder turned Project Mayhem goon Robert “Bob” Paulson.
The Disc: One of the first (and best) two disc editions, this is packed with juicy extras- although discerning collectors should seek the R1 version which has three additional commentaries.
Classic Moment: Bob discovers his inner man-mountain while taking on the unnamed Narrator (Edward Norton) in the Fight Club ring.
The Film: The classic Brit tale of youth rebellion, street violence and haircuts, Franc Roddam’s punky Mods vs Rockers saga has no better icon than Sting as the strutting, cool-as-a-cucumber King Mod known as Ace Face. With a sharp suit and an even sharper hairstyle, Ace Face is the essence of Mod attitude on the streets of Brighton- even if he does turn out to be kow-towing to ‘The Man’ as a menial bellboy.
The Disc: 8 minutes of “production montage” and an ugly full-frame transfer will have you looking for a DVD executive to kick the hell out of.
Classic Moment: “Got a pen, your honour?” Presented with a seventy quid fine in court, Ace Face responds by whipping out his chequebook.
7: ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE
The Movie: Filmed between Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, Scorsese’s romantic drama is a world away from his usual grit, and gives country star Kris Kristoffersen a peach of a romantic role as David, the cowboy-style farmer who romances Ellen Burstyn’s widowed housewife turned singer. Will he be able to net her heart and win over her cocky ten year old son? No prizes for guessing the answer…
The Disc: It’s only available on R2 as part of a box-set- but you get a commentary with Scorsese, Kristofferson and Burstyn, a retrospective documentary, and three other Scorsese classics, including the Goodfellas special edition. Bargain!
Classic Moment: David shows off his no-nonsense attitude to parenting by spanking the hell out of Alice’s smart-talking son.
8: DOWN BY LAW
The Film: The working definition of “kooky”, Jim Jarmuch’s self-proclaimed neo-beat-noir-comedy uses a cramped jail cell to bring together an uptight pimp, an English-mangling Italian tourist, and raspy-voiced musical pioneer Tom Waits as Zack. He’s a failed DJ imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, and the eccentric trio soon find themselves on the run from the law in the Louisiana wetlands, where sinking boats, hunger and alligators may be the least of their problems.
The Disc: You decide¬– the barebones R2 DVD, or the feature-packed Criterion Collection version that’s filled to bursting with interviews, photos, Q+As and music?
Classic Moment: Lost and alone in the swamp, Zack switches into Radio bulletin mode and starts his very own weather report.
9: BOYZ N THE HOOD
The Film: Packing a fearsome punch, John Singleton’s debut tale of urban violence in South Central also kicked off the cinematic career of Mr O’Shea Jackson, a.k.a. Ice Cube. A long way from his current role as scowling (yet cuddly) comedy grump, the rapper once known as America’s Most Wanted plays the foul-mouthed Darin ‘Doughboy’ Baker, one of three young guys on their way to a potentially tragic end.
The Disc: A decently loaded special edition, with John Singleton in commentary mode, a selection of deleted scenes, music videos, and the “Friendly Fire” making of documentary.
Classic Moment: In a parking lot, Doughboy gets revenge for his brother’s death- but instead of triumph, it’s a moment of quiet horror.
10: MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM
The Movie: Ol’ Blue Eyes himself pushed the limits of Fifties censorship with this classic drama, playing a sharp card-dealer and ex-heroin addict who wants to re-invent himself as a big band drummer, but can’t get rid of that monkey on his back. A universe away from the silky-voiced Rat Pack crooner, Sinatra shows a real edge as his life falls apart and he plummets into the sweaty nightmare of ‘Cold Turkey’.
The Disc: A classic movie gets a decent package, with archive Sinatra interviews, a film historian’s commentary, and a documentary on legendary composer Elmer Bernstein.
Classic Moment: “The monkey never dies, dealer.” Giving in to his cravings at last, Frankie falls off the wagon and gets himself a fix.