Sheryl Crow has seen it all. In terms of music industry highs and lows, she epitomizes the huge personality that began from the gut-wrenching songs she writes. Spilling her guts about it all for the camera, documentarian Amy Scott lets Crow lead us through decades worth of hits and misses, triumph and trauma, health and sickness. In all earnestness, who doesn’t want to listen to “If It Makes You Happy” again? Celebrities including Keith Richards and Joe Walsh were featured, adding their two cents.
Danny Cohen’s documentary about Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett was filmed over a three-year period. Capturing intimate moments as she tours the world for her second album Tell Me How You Really Feel, the film is contextually anti-influential. While navigating the rocky road of fame, media attention, panic attacks, heartbreak, and personal upheaval, the film is led by Barnett’s diary-like voiceover. Giving direct access to an artist’s private moments and first stages of a touring musical career.
In the Court of the Crimson King
The program notes of this documentary are nothing short of fascination when it began by saying: “What began as a straightforward documentary about the cult rock band King Crimson as it turned 50, mutated into an exploration of time, death, family, and the transcendent power of music to change lives. But with jokes”. It would only be fair to say that the legendary prog-rock King Crimson has had a perfect reputation. Led by guitarist Robert Fripp, the band went through five prickly decades of line-ups, albums, and tours rigorously under a venerable institution. Documentarian Toby Amies captures the band as he tags along on the group’s 2018 tour.
Dio Dreamers Never Die
Ronnie James Dio is not only a genuine heavy metal pioneer several times over. But he’s also the inventor of the devil-horns hand gesture, the man on the silver mountain — a frontman with a voice that could demolish buildings. Long overdue is this full rockumentary of an artist who had taken over Ozzy’s slot in Black Sabbath, which eventually led to him forming a solo band. Filmmaker Don Argott and Demian Fenton trace the singer’s career from his early days in a pre-Beatles Sixties rock & roll band to getting recruited for Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow. There isn’t anything else beyond the world of metal. Interspersed between Rob Halford and Tony Iommi are numerous old concert footage reminding you of the reign of a charismatic knight of darkness.
Other classic documentaries released before 2022, are as below.
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese
Bob Dylan’s life and career are so intertwined in a myth that it can be hard to untangle elements of romanticism from reality. Long before David Bowie, Tom Waits, Madonna or Lady Gaga dabbled in persona play, Robert Zimmerman made us ponder masks in popular music. He’s both there and not there, which can be frustrating and fascinating. Both sensations are chronicled in Rolling Thunder Revue — Dylan’s 1975 Rolling Thunder tour. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film is a story and may have been partly invented or exaggerated seen from one artist’s perspective. Scorsese is after something grander than mere documentation—more layers of myth are applied while trying to present an honest account of a tour and a performer. At nearly two-and-a-half hours, Rolling Thunder Revue is overlong but also undeniably stirring.
Beyoncé’s Beychella set at Coachella was an epic production of disciplined proportion. Made into a documentary, this Netflix produced was written, produced, and directed by Mrs. Knowles-Carter herself. It features stunning footage of an eight-month rehearsal and behind-the-scenes of Beychella. Spanning over a 20-year career in entertainment, Beyoncé gives us a glimpse into the Historic Black Colleges from entirely new perspectives.
For those who may not know the story of Quincy Jones, one of pop music’s most gifted producers, this documentary on his life’s work offers a glimpse into a bygone world of entertainment. Not forgetting, the legacy of racism that black artists still face today. For the many people who may only recognise his name from the back of their Thriller record, Alan Hicks and Rashida Jones’ “Quincy” will be a trip to watch as a cast of celebrities including Frank Sinatra and Henry Mancini share their memories of one of the hardest working men in show business.
FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
The Fyre Festival was a disaster from its very beginning. Scheduled to happen in 2017 on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma, festival-goers arrived at an event that was never meant to happen. The festival was marketed to well-to-do millennials and influencers as the most premium and luxurious music festival getaway. With big-name artists began pulling out of the line-up, it was becoming clear that having shortages of food, water and housing was a deliberate plan. Stranded attendees finally saw in their own eyes how Billy McFarland has fraudulently acquired funds for the festival. Since then, he has been sentenced to six years of imprisonment. A-listers including Blink-182 and FuckJerry its marketing giant were charmed into believing his vision. A case study on how creative ambitions can be overshadowed by greed, the film’s take on humor, glamor, and ego culminates in gross human negligence is just some of the realities faced in today’s entertainment world.