First off, let me start by saying musicians are exponentially better musicians than movie stars, and movie stars are simply horrible musicians. Sting (Dune), Bowie (Labyrinth), Flea (Lebowski), and Madonna (League of Their Own), were all respectable on the big screen. Jack Sparrow, Karl Childers, and Corey Feldman for Christ's sake, should never have stepped up to a line check!
But what amazes me, every time, without fail, is that when I watch a "Rockumentary" on any artist, I become, at a minimum, a solidified fan, or in most cases, a bigger fan. My four most recent rock flicks are as follows with a 1-5 pre & post rating:
1- The Dirt. Motley Crue (2)
Netflix pic that seems to cross its toes over the fiction line when telling the condensed version of their creation, rise, fall, and exit from the scene. They seemed to purposely choose actors solidifying your assumption it was a farce. In hindsight, it didn't matter. They pulled off the idiocy, gluttony, sex-drugs-rock n' roll thing just fine. The scene depictions touching on their historic debauchery felt, well, believable for the most part (especially the first 6 minutes, which literally made me cringe a little). As an elementary school kid during their tenure, they were always iconic for all the right/wrong reasons. From satanic overtones, to strippers, to drugs, and everything in-between, they were "rock gods" for most teenagers at the time. It was never about the music with them for me, which I would assume is true for most really. They were rock stars that were fundamentally idolized for their lunacy. Their "Girls Girls Girls" video was the hardcore counter to "Freedom 90." Therefore, the movie did it's job. "Shout at the Devil" will continue to live on! (2.5 because it made me "Feelgood")
2- The Two Killings of Sam Cooke (4).
Definitely WAY more respectful in its artistry/delivery than the above flick. It had a significant amount of historical context that helped frame the environment he suffered through while creating his art. For me the real value in Sam's music was the always present pain in his delivery. I didn't know why or where it came from, for I was too young, and because I simply listened to my mom when she said, "This is the greatest music ever because of his broken soul." Little did I know at such a young age that it was his pain that formed his soul. The movie for me boils down to framing a man that had mountains of talent stuck in an ocean valley filled with racism and demons. A must see. (4.5 with more tears & frustration)
3- Bohemian Rhapsody. Queen (3)
Start to finish, this movie kept me consistently engaged. There was never a scene or performance that made me feel like Rudy did... BUT, I was constantly entertained by the process, talent, and synergy of the band. Yes, I get it. Queen will always be about Freddy's vocals, delivery, and persona. But the way the band is depicted, and the way the actors were kind of "aww shucks" in their deliveries, was kind of endearing. The gaps and assumed misrepresentations of his sexual history and illness, if rewritten 50 times, would have offended some group somewhere 50 more times. It doesn't change the fact that when playing they reigned as arguably the greatest rock band of their time. Always liked Queen, now I like them a little bit more. (4)
4- History of the Eagles. (1.5 - forced to publicly hate Hotel California as a grunge lovin' Gen X'r)
Not the most recent, but recently watched for me (about a year ago). This one gave me a body blow similar to Mike Tyson in the late 80's. At 3 hours plus, it is the epic view of the four I've listed, AND WORTH EVERY GOD DAMN MINUTE OF IT! It was the perfect balance of rock and roll period dating, band creation, infighting, personalities, close misses, home runs, rebirths, and so much more. Look... it was, and is in some cases, real easy to discount the Eagles and make fun of Hotel California, Don Henley's solo gaffe's, Glenn Frey's time on Miami Vice, and their close ties to Poco. IT DOESN'T MATTER!!! Halfway through the movie I had already moved them from my 1.5 rating above to a solid 3. By the end of the documentary they ripped from my hands a Cleveland worthy RRHOF 4.5! Never again will I cower from owning a love affair for Hotel California. If you challenge me on it I will simply ask you to write a better song... then I'll wait... and wait... and wait. Hell, in writing that last sentence I have officially changed my ranking! 4.9 it is!!! Only The Fab Four can claim a 5... in spite of "Help".
Moral of the story for me is that watching these flick's simply adds to the human element outside of their artistry. It's way easier to like a person more when you learn about their stories ranging from the good, bad, sordid, evil, and everything in between. That's what makes us human. That's what made them human. The songs have long since been written!