Films about women musicians?

Last night I watched The Runaways, a film about the band of the same name that I really enjoyed. The story was a bit thin, but I really enjoyed Kristin Stewart’s performance as Joan Jett and Michael Shannon as Kim Fowley. (I also completely failed to notice that Alia Shawkat played the bass player until her name came up in the end credits.)

I can’t think of any other films about women musicians or groups, but I’m now really in the mood to watch another (or several others). I’m not fussed about era, style, protagonists or anything – if there’s a great film about a woman troubadour in the 1200s I’d love to hear about it. What films about women musicians would you recommend?

Coal Miner’s Daughter

Nashville shows quite a few musicians, some of whom are women.

A starting place: Sort by Popularity - Most Popular Movies and TV Shows tagged with keyword "female-musician" - IMDb

Breaking Glass with Hazel O’Conner was set in the post-punk era. I enjoyed Bandslam quite a bit. But if you want to see a film with some female players who can really play, you need to see Rock School. Note, that is Rock School, not School of Rock, which is the Hollywood film ripping off the real thing. It is an amazing documentary about dedicated teachers and talented kids.

Looking at the IMDB listings, it really is sad how few stories about female musicians Hollywood has produced.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains is a good one.

Hilary and Jackie (1998)

Lady Sings the Blues, based on the life of Billie Holiday.

Love Me or Leave Me, based on the life of Ruth Etting (a popular singer of the 20s and 30s).

Judy Collins did a documentary about symphony conductor Antonia Brico

I came in here to mention Hillary and Jackie but Zeldar beat me to it, so I’ll add:

What’s Love Got to Do With It? Tina Turner

La môme/La Vie En Rose Edith Piaf

Callas Forever fictional story about real life Maria Callas

Grace of My Heart fictional story, character loosely loosely based on Carole King

If you wouldn’t object to a show rather than a movie about a fictional female musician, I recommend Instant Star. I believe it’s on Netflix streaming. I haven’t watch it yet, but I’ve also heard good things about the recently ended show Rita Rocks.

Selena for a Mexican female musician.

Say what you will about Bette Midler, but she was a knockout in The Rose, a fictional movie VERY loosely based on Janis Joplin.

There’s Ni Change Rien (Change Nothing), a very unusual and slow, but fascinating, behind-the-scenes documentary about the interesting French chanteuse Jeanne Balibar getting ready to record an album. There’s no narration, just very languid scenes of rehearsals and pre-recording performances. Here are a couple of clips: Part 1 and Part 2. If those bore the tears out of you you’d hate it. It’s all very laid back like that. My favorite scene isn’t on YouTube, where they are rehearsing a song and work with it getting it exactly perfect. It’s a fascinating process, one we rarely see. It’s sly too, in that it’s filmed in a very arty, noir style befitting the finished product, but it’s all in the rehearsal stage. I think that says that the process is as important and worthy of respect as the finished product. Here are a couple more clips.

Here’s the finished recorded version of that song they’re rehearsing. I almost like the rehearsal version better.

This isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, but there’s a movie about Hildegard of Bingen called Vision. Hildegard was an amazing woman, a writer, composer, botanist, and philosopher to scratch the surface. Her compositions are stunning and her music interests me most about her. Unfortunately the movie treats her music as an afterthought and focuses mostly on her ocular migranes, er, excuse me, visions from god. It’s still interesting though and it is filled wall to wall with her music, though if you didn’t know in advance, you wouldn’t know that it was mostly her music.

Ahh, Bandslam, one of my favourite movies from the past couple of years.

One of my favourite movies of all time though is Josie and the Pussycats – yeah, don’t trust the critics or your friends or even yourself if you’ve seen it before and hated it – it’s an utter masterwork.

Some Like It Hot?

That was my vote. I actually own it and I love Jacqueline du Pre.

The Rose - Bette Midler as a semi-fictional version of Janis Joplin.

Sweet Dreams

Satisfaction is about a girl band trying to become successful. At the time it was made it was a Justine Bateman vehicle but it also had Julia Roberts and Liam Neeson early in their careers. Not a great movie but good,