Movies chronicling stories of musicians and singers reveal how art can often flourish only through suffering, filling that inexplicable void of these countless broken lives.
A true master and a true masterpiece are frequently born from a soul in pain, seeking redemption through a never-ending quest in his or her art.
It is said that to become a true artist, one must offer sacrifices on the altar of passion, laying bare the most intimate and embarrassing strings of our nature.
Yet, in some cases, these sacrifices turn into a dark abyss that engulfs artists and everything around them.
The pressure of success and audience expectations become an unbearable burden, a torment that accompanies every note and word of their songs.
In this article, we will delve into the heart of several unique and unforgettable protagonists of the great music scene who, while coming from different worlds and genres, share an existence similar to a long race through obstacles.
Sadly, not all of them have been able to hold the weight of their talent, but all of these artists have etched their names with fire into the eternity of legend.
So let’s cut the nonsense and let speak, or rather sing and play, the various singers and musicians who are the absolute stars of today’s movies.
Today’s first musician is the legendary Charlie “Bird” Parker, a jazz saxophonist who grew up on the tough streets of Kansas City and revolutionized jazz and, in particular, the Bebop style.
A style characterized by fast rhythms, improvisation and harmonic complexity, which director Clint Eastwood also employs in narrating the ups and downs of his life and career.
Jumping back and forth in time, between a present of chronic drug addiction and alcoholism with a distant and unhappy family, we also return to a boy’s past with the gift of music in his blood.
His meeting with his future wife, a dancer with a complex and fascinating temperament, gives him the enthusiasm for such a resounding success that a club, the famous Birdland, is dedicated to him in New York.
However, with his downfall, he will later be turned away from the same club bearing his name, which has become a landmark for musicians wishing to follow in Parker’s footsteps.
Desperation drives him to the point of attempting suicide, drinking tincture of iodine to escape chronic ulcer pain and deep depression over the untimely death of his daughter.
Sadly, his life faded while still young outside the asylum, just as in the years when Rock & Roll was rising.
The legendary Clint Eastwood does not sugarcoat the truth and tells us the inevitable descent into the abyss that shattered the music world between the 1930s and 1950s.
Simply outstanding is leading man Forest Whitaker, charismatic and terrible in his weakness as a hopeless junkie and alcoholic, like the stunning Diane Venora as his wife.
He was a schizophrenic genius, as his own doctors will say, for a life devoted to jazz in the purest and most passionate shape.
Walk the Line (2005)
We move on to another music star with a life of drugs, alcohol, and trouble with the law, although in this case, fortunately, there will be a better ending.
The singer in question is the great godfather of American country, Johnny Cash, born and raised in the same historical period as the former Mr. Parker.
Paradoxically, his first instinct was to assemble a gospel band. Still, someone succeeded in changing his mind: the enlightened producer Sam Phillips, former discoverer of such talents as Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis.
He is the one pushing him to search for a more personal style, where he can relate and confront his past demons through simple but elegant guitar arrangements and his deep, recognizable baritone voice.
On his way to success, this young man from Arkansas later entered a marital crisis with his first wife, Vivian, especially after meeting and falling in love with cheerful fellow country singer June Carter.
Still, drugs and harsh memories of prison days lurk at his every moment and depression, always threatening to ruin everything.
James Mangold sculpts the best movie of his career, bringing to life the hard life of one of his generation’s most beloved singers and musicians.
A story co-written with Johnny Cash himself, brought to life with sumptuous acting from Joaquin Phoenix, who perfectly embodies the charm and unquietude of a man without peace.
Even better is the stunning Reese Witherspoon as June Carter, hated by the bigoted world of those days for previous marriages that ended badly and her relationship with the troubled rising country star.
But as always, legends remain in history, and dull-minded losers end up forgotten as they deserve.
The Runaways (2010)
After two complex gentlemen from the complex jazz and country years, we jump into the future to the mid-1970s with this bunch of young ladies enraged with the world and unabashed Rock & Roll lovers.
During that time, on the sunny streets of California, the drummer Sandy West and guitarist and singer Joan Jett met, united by a desire to create an all-girl rock band.
With the help of wacky and visionary record producer Kim Fowley, they were able to expand the group with the addition of guitarist Lita Ford and bassist Jackie Fox.
However, this explosive barrel needed a primer, which they found with Cherie Currie, who finally completed the formation of the Runaways.
It was with her inspiration in mind that they wrote the famous song Cherry Bomb, which in time would remain they’re single of greatest fame and success.
The Runaways began performing live in clubs and quickly gained the attention of the music industry, eventually landing a contract with the famous Mercury Records.
However, their raw, rebellious energy also reflects in their lifestyle, disbanding the group over internal divisions in 1979, not even five years after their inception.
Directing this all-female movie could only be a woman, the Italian Floria Sigismondi, who captures the merits and flaws of these young rock promises.
A promise later truly fulfilled only by boisterous rocker Joan Jett, here played by a masculine and aggressive Kristen Stewart.
Dakota Fanning, on the other hand, is the tiny, snarky Cherie Currie, the birth and death of this group with the assistance of producer Fowley, played by the always-perfect Michael Shannon.
A movie that tells a story as fast-paced as this group of singers and musicians, who came and went from the scene like a blaze of youthful rage.
Get on Up (2014)
We return to the Great Depression days in the humblest little town of South Carolina.
Here little James Brown was born and raised, abandoned by his parent, ending up in jail like many of his black peers.
It will be behind bars that he met Bobby Byrd during a fight at a gospel concert.
Coming out of jail, they become inseparable, founding The Famous Flames and attracting the attention of agent Ben Bart and ABC, home of artists such as Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday.
Bart quickly realizes that despite the musicians’ prowess, the movie star is undoubtedly James Brown, putting the singer at the center of every musical choice.
However, young Brown does not like to leave the largest earnings share to promoters and musical tour organizers, so he cuts them out of his business.
The idea is highly successful, and the young artist begins churning out hit records and sold-out concerts on repeat.
At the same time, his obsession with controlling everything and everyone turns every one of his friends and colleagues against him, causing him to start all over again with a new band.
But despite his insufferable temper, nothing will be able to stop the Godfather of Soul, as all future generations to come will not coincidentally call him.
Under the fine direction of Tate Taylor, we admire the excellent immediacy of Chadwick Boseman, who brings in this movie, for better or worse, all the charisma of one of the best singers ever like James Brown.
All that glitters is not gold, of course, mistreating friends and wives without conscience and getting into trouble with the law several times.
But in the end, as only true artists know well from their birth, history is not written by following the rule book to perfection.
To best conclude this article on movies and music, we now have a woman who was among the legendary singers and movie divas.
We are talking about Judy Garland, a young Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer star and famous Dorothy in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, where she sang her favorite song, Over the Rainbow.
The story began in the 1950s when the actress was unanimously dismissed from every Hollywood studio because of her intractable and unreliable behavior.
Having to leave her children with their father, she began a new career as a singer in England. Her fame was still high, attracting large audiences at her performances.
At first, she seemed to find new happiness and even a new husband, seeing a glimmer of hope for her career that appeared to be over.
But memories of the harsh years of physical and mental isolation as a child actress marked her too profoundly, leaving indelible scars that led her to incurable alcoholism and abusing drugs to get to sleep.
Rupert Goold delicately recounts the last years of a suffering and lonely woman no one can stand for her bizarre theatrics but everyone still respects for her incredible talent.
A far cry from Bridget Jones’s Diary‘s pandering and peaceful atmospheres, Renée Zellweger gives a hard-to-forget testament to drama and humanity for a portrait of a no longer beautiful and young star who still has so much to give to the music world.
It is a story about the high price of success for a woman who was destroyed by producers as a child and struggling to put the pieces of her life back together.
Nothing else I want to say except that it is a little gem to be treasured with respect and admiration.