Volume Knob from This is Spinal Tap

Yes, this list goes to eleven. View the slideshow.

Love is blind. So is our taste in music. And that also logically applies to lists of one’s favorite rockumentaries. I swear, one of my life’s most ecstatic movie-going moments was going to Stop Making Sense not to see Jonathan Demme’s Talking Heads film, but to instead be mesmerized by the 10-minute opening video of New Order playing the song, “The Perfect Kiss,” in their rehearsal studio. The band members keep their heads down and inertly play their instruments. To non-fans it must have been like watching paint dry. To me, it was 10 minutes in heaven.

View the gallery of top rockumentaries »

So, yes, this list is subjective. And I’m going to reinforce that point by illustrating why some of these films are important to me. I hope you will share your favorite rockumentaries — personal reminiscences encouraged! — in the comments section below.

This post is born from both last week’s review of Dont Look Back, which I had never seen before and loved, and White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights, which I saw a little while back, and loathed. I felt dirty watching the White Stripes doc. It’s such a fawning, suck up to the band, showing Jack and Meg White wandering aimlessly in bleak settings, rocking out on stage, having tender moments… I felt like I was watching a Leni Riefenstahl movie, aimed at convincing me to love these two. And yet, as I said before, if I did love these two, maybe I would consider it the greatest doc of all time. But, as I merely appreciate their music, I was put off. It made me more aware of how much rockumentaries play easy cards and tug at heart strings. But that’s why we love (or hate) them.

Start with #11…

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Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He is a former Premiere magazine senior editor, who graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom's freelance work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter and other publications. He has written several Kindle Singles, including the bestselling Kindle Singles Interview: Ken Burns. Tom's current list of favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi by Godfrey Reggio; 2. Hoop Dreams by Steve James; 3.Stories We Tell by Sarah Polley; 4.Crumb by Terry Zwigoff; 5. Montage of Heck by Brett Morgen