Music Biopics: The Name Game

A growing trend in movies for the past few years (and a bit beyond) is the musical biopic that incorporates one of the band or artist’s songs into the title. The latest example will come out this fall with Bohemian Rhapsody, the behind the scenes story of Queen.

2019 will bring us Rocketman with Taron Egerton as the legendary Elton John.

We’ve seen this trend in years past. For instance, the 1980s saw La Bamba about Richie Valens.

The 1990s gave us Angela Bassett in her Oscar nominated role playing Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It?

In 2005, we had Walk the Line with Joaquin Phoenix in his Academy nominated turn as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon winning as June.

More recent ones have been in the hip hop world with Straight Outta Compton (N.W.A.) and All Eyez on Me (Tupac Shakur). There’s also Get On Up with Chadwick Boseman as the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.

So this got me thinking. What would be some other movie/song titles if certain iconic musicians got their biopic? For this blog post’s purposes, I tried to focus on artists where I feel a big screen treatment on them is at least feasible. In other words, while Rico Suave might be a spectacular title, I don’t envision two hours on Gerardo coming anytime soon.

There is already a Madonna flick reportedly in the works and it takes its name not from a tune, but from one of her tours – Blond Ambition. I suppose Material Girl or Like a Prayer could have worked, but Blond Ambition is just about perfect.

Some choices seem obvious. You gotta call the Bon Jovi story Livin on a Prayer, after all. And My Way seems like the natural fit for Frank Sinatra. And Born to Run for Bruce Springsteen. And there’s Piano Man for Billy Joel.

It doesn’t end there. Respect (Aretha Franklin) and Fire and Rain (James Taylor).

When it comes to some recently dearly departed legends, Prince presents a challenge because you can’t call it Purple Rain. And a number of his other massive hits don’t fit. When Doves Cry is probably the name the studio would go for considering it’s his biggest hit. Personally, I rather like the thought of My Name is Prince, taken from his Love Symbol album of 1992.

With Michael Jackson, Thriller would work but it’s hard to imagine Man in the Mirror not being the choice.

For David Bowie, Starman seems like the winner, but that’s also the name of a fairly well-known 1980s science fiction effort starring Jeff Bridges. That may not matter, but if so, Space Oddity or simply calling it Ziggy Stardust might fit.

Tom Petty? How about Free Fallin or Runnin Down a Dream. George Michael? Faith or Freedom. Whitney Houston? Tough one. Perhaps a studio would want I Will Always Love You. Maybe So Emotional works as well.

Some bands have more than one title that seem appropriate. Aerosmith has three great ones: Dream On, Sweet Emotion, or Walk This Way. With AC/DC – Back in Black or Thunderstruck.

Guns n Roses is an interesting one. Welcome to the Jungle is fantastic, but it was just the subtitle for the blockbuster Jumanji reboot. In this matter, you might have to go with their album name Appetite for Destruction, which is ideal.

Metallica could have For Whom the Bell Tolls or Enter Sandman. Nirvana might have Smells Like Teen Spirit as the studio choice, but I’m a little partial to Come As You Are.

I like Runnin with the Devil for Van Halen and I suppose Stairway to Heaven would be the choice for Led Zeppelin.

Let’s move off rock. How about Britney Spears? That may depend on what direction the studio goes. It could be Toxic or Stronger. Maybe Baby One More Time instead.

Stevie Wonder? Superstition or Sir Duke are possibilities, but I like Higher Ground.

With Bob Marley, maybe Get Up, Stand Up or One Love.

Circling back to hip hop, Fight the Power is the clear pick for Public Enemy and the same may hold true for Mama Said Knock You Out with LL Cool J.

And then there’s my favorite… the Rick James biopic Super Freak. Why hasn’t this been made already?

I could go on, but you get the idea. Let’s see if any of these suggested titles end up playing out in the future. Maybe there will be surprises… Barbie Girl: The Aqua Story, anyone?

The Blog Turns 5!

Five years ago tomorrow night, I decided on a whim to start this here movie blog. Truth be told, I had no clue what it would turn into or if I would even keep up with it.

This now marks the 1,897th blog post. And five years later – I know what it’s turned into for now. Primarily, the blog is focused on box office predictions, Oscar predictions and movie reviews.

There are deviations on occasion. I’ll even dip into my love of music. Sadly some of that has been due to the immeasurable loss of icons lately like Prince and David Bowie and Tom Petty (I’m still considering a top 25 songs for that genius).

Five years from now – who knows? That’s the joy of looking at a blank page nearly 2000  times and just starting. I love movies. I love writing. It’s that simple.

The blog has forged a great relationship with Fantasy Movie League, a remarkable website in which I’m fortunate to write a weekly box office predictions column for. It’s a terrific community with dedicated participants.

Time is a funny thing. 20 years ago today – Paul Thomas Anderson’s brilliant Boogie Nights opened. There is a solid argument to be made that no more impressive movie has been made since. There’s a scene involving a drug deal gone bad, a gloriously unhinged Alfred Molina, and Chinese firecrackers that ranks among the most memorable film scenes I’ve ever witnessed.

The joy of movies. They never stop. There’s always more to discover. More to study. More to speculate about. It’s a beautiful reel on continuous play for over 100 years. That’s a lot of time for the most timeless form of entertainment; the real American and worldwide pastime.

I’ve passed a lot of time writing this blog over the last half decade and loved every minute of it. Thanks for reading!




My Love of Movies IV

Four years ago on a Thursday evening, I made the snap decision to start a movie blog. I did it without much thought and with little clue what I wanted it to be.

I knew two things: I love movies and I love writing. And so I penned my first blog post. It’s called “My Love of Movies”. Look at it. Isn’t it adorable?

Then came the first anniversary. I wrote about that here:

Then the second anniversary:

And the third:

Yes, maybe the anniversary posts have dwindled in quality as time has passed. With every year comes the familiarity of the blog having become more of a reality. More of everyday life. What I’m writing at this moment is my 1,516th post.

Truth be told – 2016 hasn’t been the best year for movies. Oh, don’t get me wrong. There’s always those moments that I’ve described so lovingly in previous posts. A truly hilarious scene at an animated DMV run by sloths in Zootopia. A comic book adaptation in Deadpool that had moments of raunchy inspiration. And there’s a lot more for me to see in 2016.

Let’s get real for a second, friends. 2016 hasn’t been the best year for lots of things. Political discourse for one, but let us not go THERE.

Sequels. Too many of ’em. Too many we didn’t ask for.

Apparently Zoolander did say all that needed to be said fifteen years ago. Audiences weren’t ready to travel back to the Blair Witch woods. I could go on.

But I won’t. No, where 2016 has been truly sad is in the people we’ve lost. Hans Gruber of Die Hard is one of the greatest film villains in screen history. Alan Rickman brilliantly played him, along with lots of other amazing performances.

Gene Wilder may hold the record for appearing in the most flat out brilliant comedies, not to mention being a part of our collective childhoods in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Our ears have been blessed to experience the music of Prince and David Bowie and witness their contributions to film.

I know what you might be thinking… this anniversary post is a bummer, dude!

A silver lining. A consolation point. We will always have film to remind us of the aforementioned artists brilliance.

We will always have the knowledge that the cherished memories we have of them are preserved.

We will always have the knowledge, film lovers that we are, that more memories will be formed with new amazing performers.

Every week on this blog, there are more box office predictions to be estimated. More Oscar Watch movies to be discussed. More reviews to be written.

There’s always more. It’s the NeverEnding Story of film that I described here three years ago:

Are there times it feels stale when the latest unwanted sequel is rolled out? Sure.

Are there moments you wonder where else the superhero genre can possibly go when we get a new one every couple months now? Yes.

And then Star Wars: The Force Awakens turns out to be a pleasure… and not unwanted. And then Deadpool brings something new to the genre.

I remember four years ago tonight writing that first blog post and wondering if I’d have any ideas for a second one. Then I figured out what I wanted the blog to be… and it constantly changes.

I love doing it. I thank you for reading it and I’m humbled to report that 2016 has been the most viewed year so far already! I’ve also tremendously valued my partnership with Fantasy Movie League that began this year and continuing my history of getting out predicted by Joe Giuliano at box office numbers.

2016 has been a challenge for us who love the silver screen and love incredible music. We remember that vile antagonist of John McClane in my favorite action movie ever.

We remember that gentle and hilarious man who brought us into a world of pure imagination.

We remember bathing in the beautiful sounds of the Purple Rain.

And we wait for the next moments of inspiration and all the other emotions that the movies bring.

They’ll come. They always do.

Todd’s Top 25 David Bowie Songs: Nos. 5-1

After four days covering numbers 25-6 of my personal top 25 David Bowie songs, we’ve reached the top five! This could have easily been a top 50 list and it truly is remarkable to go back and listen to the many decades of greatness that this brilliant artist brought to us. What a talent. What a joy to listen to his artistry. Here’s my top five:

5. “Fame” from Young Americans (1975)

4. “Young Americans” from Young Americans (1975)

3. “Rebel Rebel” from Diamond Dogs (1974)

2. “Space Oddity” from David Bowie (1969)

  1. “Life on Mars” from Hunky Dory (1971)

And there you have it – happy listening! As an FYI – I’m going to make it a point to start doing these top 25 music lists more regularly with Elton John up next…

Todd’s Top 25 David Bowie Songs: Nos. 10-6

Today we enter day 4 of my personal list of top 25 David Bowie tracks — not an easy list to compile considering the staggering amount of amazing tunes over his nearly 50 year career. We arrive at the top ten with 10-6 today and the top five tomorrow!

10. “Heroes” from Heroes (1977)

9. “Fashion” from Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) (1980)

8. “Suffragette City” from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

7. “Changes” from Hunky Dory (1971)

6. “Ziggy Stardust” from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

Top five arriving tomorrow!

Todd’s Top 25 David Bowie Songs: Nos. 15-11

Continuing on with day 3 listing my personal top 25 David Bowie tracks of all time, we arrive at numbers 15-11 before getting to the Top Ten tomorrow! Let’s get to it:

15. “Let’s Dance” from Let’s Dance (1983)

14. “Sound and Vision” from Low (1977)

13. “China Girl” from Let’s Dance (1983)

12. “Starman” from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and Spiders from Mars (1972)

11. “Drive-In Saturday” from Aladdin Sane (1973)

Top 10 coming at you tomorrow, friends!

Todd’s Top 25 David Bowie Songs: Nos. 20-16

We’ve arrived at day two of my personal Top 25 David Bowie, covering numbers 20-16. Let’s get to some incredible music, shall we?

20. “Under Pressure” from Queen album Hot Space (1982), released in 1981 as a duet with Bowie and Queen

19. “The Jean Genie” from Aladdin Sane (1973)

18. “Modern Love” from Let’s Dance (1983)

17. “Aladdin Sane” from Aladdin Sane (1973)

16. “Ashes to Ashes” from Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) (1980)

I’ll cover numbers 15-11 tomorrow!

Todd’s Top 25 David Bowie Songs: 25-21

I’ve always been a massive fan of the eclectic genius that was David Bowie. In the last few weeks since his death, I’ve found myself listening to his music more and more and even discovering some gems I wasn’t aware of. It got me to create this here five part blog series where I count down my personal favorite 25 songs by this brilliant artist. And here we go:

25. “Golden Years” from Station to Station (1976)

24. “I’m Afraid of Americans” from Earthling (1997)

23. “Station to Station” from Station to Station (1976)

22. “Lazarus” from Blackstar (2016)

21: “The Man Who Sold the World” from The Man Who Sold the World (1970)

I’ll be back tomorrow with numbers 20-16!

Todd’s Ten Songs of the Week: January 17 Edition

And now for a new feature on the blog that I’ll try to post weekly on every Sunday. The concept is simple – I’m giving you ten songs to listen to for your musical enjoyment. Those who know me obviously know I’m a huge movie buff, but I’m also a major music lover.

For this initial post, I cannot help but make some track suggestions from the great David Bowie. Most of us know his many hits but for this evening, I’m selecting ten that perhaps you don’t know. Do yourself a favor and do what I’ve found myself doing this week – just select a Bowie album and let it rip. It’s worth it to truly appreciate his one of a kind genius.

Here we go:

“Always Crashing in the Same Car” from Low (1977)

“Win” from Young Americans (1975)

“Beauty and the Beast” from Heroes (1977)

“Word on a Wing” from Station to Station (1976)

“Dirty Boys” from The Next Day (2013)

“New Killer Star” from Reality (2003)

“DJ” from Lodger (1979)

“Everything’s Alright” from Pinups (1973)

“No Control” from Outside (1995)

“I Can’t Give Everything Away” from Blackstar (2016)

And there you have it – DJ Todd shall return next weekend!

This Day in Movie History: January 8

When we think of horror characters that have had legacies lasting over the past two decades, we think Freddy or Jason or Michael Myers. And yet – a green pint sized horror character made his debut in theaters twenty years ago Today in Movie History when Leprechaun opened domestically. It barely made a blip on the box office radar two decades ago, debuting at #8 with $2.4 million. And yet its staying power has been surprisingly lasting. It spawned five (yes five) sequels – Leprechaun 2, Leprechaun 3, Leprechaun 4: In Space (naturally), and who can forget Leprechaun: In the Hood and Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood? These sequels, with the exception of the second installment, were direct to video/DVD but the series longevity is nevertheless impressive. This February, we’ll see a reboot of the franchise with Leprechaun: Origins, coproduced by WWE Studios. Warwick Davis (who also appeared in Return of the Jedi and Willow) would play the title character and reprise the role in every subsequent follow-up. It’s Warwick’s costar in the original whose name you may also know – Jennifer Aniston, who I believe was on a TV show and in a few movies.

As for birthdays, we have two legendary musicians who also made their mark in film. Elvis Presley would have turned 79 today. His movie career mostly consisted of playing variations of himself in over 30 features. They included well-regarded hits such as Jailhouse Rock, King Creole, and Blue Hawaii. His biggest success was Viva Las Vegas with Ann-Margret from 1964. There was plenty of forgettable fare too.

David Bowie is 67 today. His storied musical career will be his lasting legacy, but he’s had a decent film career with titles such as the lead role in 1976’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, Tony Scott’s The Hunger, Labyrinth, Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, and Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige.

As for Six Degrees of Separation between these musical legends:

Elvis Presley was in Viva Las Vegas with Ann-Margret

Ann-Margret was in Carnal Knowledge with Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson was in The Two Jakes with Harvey Keitel

Harvey Keitel was in The Last Temptation of Christ with David Bowie

And that’s today – January 8 – in Movie History!