ROCK & ROLL AND MOVIES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN INSEPARABLE. OFTEN GREAT MOVIES AND GREAT SOUNDTRACKS GO HAND IN HAND, BUT SOMETIMES EVEN A SO-SO FILM IS FULL OF HISTORIC TUNES. IN THIS LIST ARE FEATURED EXPERTLY CURATED COMPILATIONS AND KILLER MIXTAPES
The Graduate (1968)
Director Mike Nichols’ brilliant use of several Simon and Garfunkel songs in his chronicle of post-collegiate alienation gave contemporary Sixties pop unprecedented placement in a serious Hollywood blockbuster.
Why it’s good: While “The Sound Of Silence” opens the LP, it’s the ode to older women “Mrs Robinson” that really went on to define the album.
Bursting with violence, drugs, sexual longing and despair, Quadrophenia – loosely based on The Who’s 1973 rock opera – is often dismissed as a mod film, but its appeal is universal. The character of Jimmy Cooper speaks across generations to anyone who’s ever felt young, lost, and hungry for self-definition. The fact it’s accompanied by the best music Pete Townshend ever wrote only magnifies the film’s deathless power.
Why it’s good: Jimmy’s climactic, cliff-top Lambretta ride, soundtracked by “Love Reign O’er Me”.
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
What can we say that hasn’t already been said? Tap get quoted so many times, yet somehow the spoof rock doc never gets stale, perhaps because it’s so true to life: Eddie Van Halen once confessed, “Everything in that movie [has] happened to me.”
Why it’s good: Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest’s true achievement was recording an LP of bona fide rock classics to go with it.
Pretty In Pink (1986)
Inspired by and featuring the Psychedelic Furs track “Pretty In Pink”, this quintessential John Hughes movie is a story of teenage love, high school troubles and social cliques.
Why it’s good: From “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” to “Do Wot You Do” and “Bring on the Dancing Horses”, it’s a nostalgic treat.
Dazed And Confused (1993)
Richard Linklater’s love-note to his mid-70s schooldays pulls of the neat trick of making you nostalgic for a time you (probably) never even lived through.
Why it’s good: When Mitch puts his headphones on, and immerses himself in Foghat’s “Slow Ride”.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman star in the film that sees violence, comedy, crime and pop culture collide as mobsters, a boxer and a gangster’s wife find that their stories inter-link. Quentin Tarantino chose rock, soul and surf tracks to accompany the movie.
Why it’s good: Dick Dale’s version of “Misirlou”.
Danny Boyle’s breathtakingly distinctive film caught a unique moment in British culture: youthful, confident, alive with possibility.
Why it’s good: When Underworld’s “Born Slippy” kicks in as Renton abandons his mates to go straight. Instant goosebumps.
High Fidelity (2000)
Those of us who’d loved Nick Hornby’s book, set in London, initially bridled at the all-American film version, transposed to Chicago. But the characters, especially John Cusack’s list-making lead, lost none of their essential warmth in the adaptation. This is a film that speaks to anyone who’s ever obsessed over music to the detriment of actual human relationships.
Why it’s good: Bruce Springsteen’s brief cameo is pretty cool, but Jack Black’s climactic rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” provides the film’s killer scene.
Almost Famous (2000)
Former Rolling Stone writer Cameron Crowe based the script on his own experiences, portraying guys in bands as deeply flawed as they truly were.
Why it’s good: The tourbus scene, where they all sing Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” – it’s cheesy as hell, but you can’t fail to be moved.
Where The Wild Things Are (2009)
This adaptation of a children’s book called for music with a sense of wonderment – and Karen O delivered, recruiting collaborators such as Bradford Cox (Deerhunter) and Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner to create a soundtrack that works as an album in its own right.
Why it’s good: Karen O And The Kids, “All Is Love”.