A Year (Heck—A Decade, Even) of Pop Music at the Movies

On the downside, David O. Russell's Three Kings starts off like it's going to salvage those strange few months in pop history between Milli Vanilli and Nirvana (Snap, Public Enemy's "Can't Do Nuttin' For Ya Man," Rare Earth standing in for M.C. Hammer), but the music soon dries up completely in the Kuwaiti desert; Russell does manage to sneak in "In God's Country," the only U2 song I've ever really loved, over the end credits. Boys Don't Cry has the Isley Brothers, Timmy Thomas, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but to little effect; when the Cure-originated title track finally appears and turns out to be a cover, you feel cheated. Spike Lee's Summer of Sam stands alongside Bringing Out the Dead as the year's major letdown. Lee's done some terrific things in the past with "Livin' for the City" and "Erotic City," but he stumbles badly with the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Baba O'Riley," resulting in a couple of big showcase montages even more overwrought than the rest of the film. I barely remember a thing from Outside Providence or 200 Cigarettes, both of which belong to the Flamingo Kid school of soundtracks: "Hey, the Drifters—it must be 1960."

Thanks to the Andersons, the rest hardly matter. Rushmore and Boogie Nights have meant more to me the past couple of years than my favorite new music during that time, and I'm betting that both will become sacred texts to a new generation of rock and roll filmmakers. Being someone who once had aspirations of making the Great Pop Movie myself (until all that technical stuff about knowing how to write scripts and operate cameras got in the way), watching them's also a bit of a bittersweet experience. When someone really gets it right, which in the 35 years since A Hard Day's Night and Kenneth Anger's Scorpio Rising has happened surprisingly infrequently, there's always a part of me that wishes it'd been me instead.

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