As Eden explores the heyday of 90s French house at the LFF, we select our favourite music-led scenes from the silver screen
Atmosphere is everything for Josephine Decker, whose first fiction feature Butter on the Latch premiered to high praise at the Berlin Film Festival earlier in the year and which monopolises on the otherworldly folk shadings of the Baltic music scene to weave its impressionistic, sinister tale. Leave the woods of California for Paris, and another of today's more fresh-feeling directors Mia Hansen-Love has set her latest Eden in the heyday (and after) of French Filter House. With both screening at the London Film Festival this week, here are some of our fave takes on music scenes in cinema.
The French house scene of the 90s that produced the likes of Cassius and that little-known duo Daft Punk is the setting for director Mia Hansen-Love's poignant latest. Co-written with her brother Sven, a former DJ and Parisian insider, it spans halcyon times to burnout over more than a decade through the eyes of Paul (Felix de Givry), who starts a label with some friends. Screening at the London Film Festival on October 14, 15 and 17.
New US directing talent of the moment Josephine Decker has set her boldly unconventional, free-form indie at a Balkan music festival in the California woods, tapping the darkly fantastical mythology of the songs to craft a sensual, hallucinatory dreamscape, as two young female friends reunite amid an ambiguous trauma. Screening at the London Film Festival on October 11 and 12.
The Manchester scene of the 80s and 90s that played out around Factory Records, which signed bands such as Joy Division, New Order and the Happy Mondays, is captured in this Michael Winterbottom dramatisation, which blends archival concert footage, real events and urban legends. Steve Coogan as label head Tony Wilson provides a playful, tongue-in-cheek running commentary of observations like: "The smaller the attendance the bigger the history. There were 12 people at the Last Supper."
In hock to punk style, English director Derek Jarman's grainy-looking cult classic was shot in London neighbourhoods still piled with rubble from the Blitz, and sees Queen Elizabeth I transported forward in time by an occultist to a 70s Britain, in which her successor's been killed in a mugging, and nihilists roam the streets. Punk icons appearing include Jordan, Adam Ant, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Slits. But not everyone saw the movie as truly punk. In an open letter to Jarman printed on a t-shirt as part of her 78 Seditionaries collection, Westwood decried the film as self-indulgent and demanded he "cut the crap".
The world of hedonistic spectacle of New York's Club Kids of the late 80s and early 90s, who frequented clubs like The Limelight elaborately DIY-costumed as cyperpunk misfits or slutty clowns, is recreated in this cult film by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. Based on the memoir Disco Bloodbath by James St. James, it stars Macaulay Culkin trying to break out of his squeaky-clean image as drug-addled club kid-turned-killer Michael Alig.
The Coen brothers offer a melancholic, acerbically funny portrait of the Greenwich Village folk scene of the 60s through the eyes of the fictional title character, a struggling singer played by Oscar Isaac who during a bleak winter, just like the one Dylan huddles against on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album cover, faces a catalogue of luckless rejections and humiliations – an escaped cat, an unwanted pregnancy, and the paltry session fee a ridiculous astronaut novelty song affords.
Director Charlie Ahearn captured the early hip-hop scene in New York's Bronx, where it'd been born with kids spraying graffiti in the subway system before connecting with the downtown gallery and punk crowd. Puerto Rican-born graffiti legend Lee Quinones stars as enigmatic street artist Zoro, in a film loaded with priceless moments from pioneers – from Grandmaster Flash scratching and mixing on old turntables in a kitchen to the Cold Crush Brothers rapping, and the Rock Steady Crew busting b-boy moves.
The disco era's been done and done some more on film – but one of the best depictions is less directly about the music than the Golden Age of Porn that shared the 70s, and its decline. Paul Thomas Anderson's film starring Mark Wahlberg as a nightclub dishwasher who gains fame as well-endowed porn actor Dirk Diggler is soundtracked with funky era-defining hits like Marvin Gaye's “Got to Give It Up” and “Machine Gun” by The Commodores.
German director Roland Klick's bizarre, cynical downfall tale stars Dennis Hopper as the violently unpredictable, washed-up manager of a white-suited solo synth player desperate for stardom in 80s Berlin who attempts to launch with a show in a hardcore punk club hostile to his new sound. Made in Hopper's most coke-unhinged period when he could only shoot for short stints each day, it was his last film before rehab, and his performance is bonkers and half-deranged.
Bauhaus performing their track Bela Lugosi's “Dead” in a New York club open Tony Scott's cult classic, a cinematic ode to post-punk in its sultry and darkly stylish 80s take on romantic vampire shtick. Catherine Deneuve stars as a blood-sucker dwelling in a Manhattan townhouse with David Bowie as her lover whose time is up. His only hope in his rapid deterioration toward dust is a sassy ageing-process researcher played by Susan Sarandon.