Play It Loud! Five Music Docs to Get You Through the Weekend

Stop Making Sense

By Pat Mullen

We know you’re getting stir crazy staying in. We are too.

While browsing through the Twitter feed last night, I saw TIFF artistic director/co-head Cameron Bailey tweeting that the next stop on his social distancing binge-watch was Jonathan Demme’s Stop Making Sense. What a better way to escape the social distancing blahs than by attending a rock concert?

To help everyone make it through the weekend, POV’s picked five great music docs to bring the world of arts and entertainment to the TVs and laptops of the land. (Although, we probably aren’t the only ones experiencing buffering issues due to overloads on the streaming sites.) This playlist admittedly skews somewhat older since say that Baby Boomers aren’t taking social distancing recommendations seriously. So round up the parents, make them wash their hands, and turn the speakers up to 11!

Stop Making Sense

Available on: YouTube (for free!)

Many film buffs and critics consider Demme’s Stop Making Sense the best concert documentary ever made and rightly so. This 1984 Talking Heads doc pulses with energy that few films match today. It’s a staple at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema and rep theatres across the land, and is one of those classics that never fail to draw a crowd. For more Demme docs, make sure to check out Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids on Netflix and Neil Young: Heart of Gold on Kanopy.

Echo in the Canyon

Available on: Netflix, Kanopy and VOD

Ok, Boomers, this one’s for you. POV recommends Echo in the Canyon for everyone of said generation since it’s the Baby Boomeriest of music docs. The film features Jakob Dylan and a who’s who of contemporary artists like Fiona Apple and Norah Jones as they pay tribute to the music that emerged from the Laurel Canyon scene in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Make sure to crank up that soundtrack afterwards!

Imagine the Sound

Available on: Kanopy and VOD

If Stop Making Sense gets the title of top concert doc, one could make a fair argument that Ron Mann’s Imagine the Sound is the best jazz documentary of all-time. This masterful and easygoing free jazz flick, Mann’s first feature, offers interviews with and performances by musicians Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Paul Bley and Bill Dixon in a style that can’t be beat. Imagine the Sound is an obvious precursor to Echo in the Canyon, and arguably any film since that’s captured a collective sound to emerge from a specific place and time. For further viewing, check out Mann’s Carmine Street Guitars on Kanopy and Crave.

Imagine the Sound from filmswelike on Vimeo.

Pauline Julien: Intimate and Political

Available on: NFB

Pauline Julien is an archival portrait of the life and career of the late singer and actress. The film chronicles Julien’s career and an political activism (she was jailed for protesting the War Measures Act during the 1970 October Crisis) using a collage of photographs, videos, and diary entries to convey her life in her own words. The film sees one woman’s voice in a revolution sings in tune with the others.

Pauline Julien, Intimate and Political, Pascale Ferland, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Who Let the Dogs Out

Available on: Crave

POV contributor Jason Gorber swears by this doc. A hit at Hot Docs last year, Who Let the Dogs Out unpacks what is quite possibly the most annoying song ever recorded. However, there might be something profound about the deeply philosophical question at the heart of this party anthem. It’s also the perfect choice for social distancing after the myriad tweets about the World Health Organization (WHO) giving dogs a clean bill of health amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.