Seeking more of that "ACS: Assassination of Gianni Versace" aesthetic
February 5, 2019 10:45 AM   Subscribe

I like my movies to be more like stylish music videos. What else should I check out? Examples within.

I've come to realize that a common characteristic in my favorite movies and TV shows is excellent, near-constant use of music (primarily soundtrack, not score) and--to a slightly lesser extent--dazzling cinematography and editing, set design eye candy, and interesting (often period) costumes. The overarching term could be "stylish" (or maybe high production value?), and a work need not be particularly well written or cerebral as long as it checks most of these boxes. Stuff I have loved:

- American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace - This is probably the quintessential example and actually prompted this question…the soundtrack, the sets, the costume design, the colors in general…I just devoured it on Netflix and thought "I NEED MORE".
- Nip/Tuck - Ryan Murphy's earlier trashy (but very chic/sexy) primetime soap opera. Best soundtrack of any TV show, ever in my opinion. I probably wouldn't sit down and listen to it on its own but combined with what was happening on screen it was perfect.
- Movies like Boogie Nights (my #1 all-time favorite) and Blow, and the Martin Scorsese movies that likely influenced them (e.g., Goodfellas, Casino).
- Vanilla Sky, Almost Famous, and most other Cameron Crowe movies.
- Entourage was a really vapid show but it stands out it my mind as having awesome music, and I enjoyed the peek into lavish lifestyles.
- I actually think Breaking Bad and The Sopranos did music really well (particularly that sort of ironic, soundtrack dissonance where you have something upbeat playing when someone gets whacked).
- Other "stylish" movies and TV I loved were The Talented Mr. Ripley, A Single Man, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Virgin Suicides, L.A. Confidential, I Am Love, Mad Men, and Boardwalk Empire.

Quite the grab bag, but if you liked this stuff and there is more you think I would enjoy (new or old or very old), please share!
posted by lovableiago to Media & Arts (35 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Baby Driver!
posted by Perplexity at 10:52 AM on February 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

If you like this kind of movie, The Neon Demon is well worth your time.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:53 AM on February 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

The Young Pope is dripping with style and papal tiaras.
posted by zeusianfog at 11:00 AM on February 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

Pedro Almodovar's films might work.
posted by VirginiaPlain at 11:01 AM on February 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

This question helped me realize I enjoy similar things so thank you for that! The Young Pope definitely scratched this itch for me. [On preview zeusianfrog beat me to it!]
posted by wuzandfuzz at 11:09 AM on February 5, 2019

This might not be your cup of tea, but when I read your description, I immediately thought of the Monte Cristo anime: Gankutsuou
posted by gakiko at 11:23 AM on February 5, 2019

You don’t list any genre shows, but if you’re open to them, Legion on FX is incredibly stylized and stylish, with a mod 60’s vibe despite taking place in the present day. There have been two seasons, and the upcoming third will be the last.
posted by ejs at 11:23 AM on February 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think you might need Legion in your life.
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:24 AM on February 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Velvet Goldmine
The Fall (Tarsem Singh)
Drugstore Cowboy
Dune (Lynch)
The Chronicles of Riddick
posted by heatvision at 11:26 AM on February 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

All of Wes Anderson's work is worthy, ditto Michel Gondry, anything Chris Cunningham has done, maybe Jodorowsky, JP Jeunet, Spike Jonze
posted by Dmenet at 11:28 AM on February 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

To Live and Die in L.A.
posted by The Deej at 11:37 AM on February 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Good Time
posted by porn in the woods at 11:44 AM on February 5, 2019

How about Atomic Blonde?
posted by mhum at 11:47 AM on February 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Baz Luhrman, of Moulin Rouge fame, created The Get Down

and Luc Besson tends to really heavily on music and style so check out Valerian, because I'm sure you know about the 5th Element by now
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:51 AM on February 5, 2019

These are great! The suggestions so far included stuff I forgot to include it my "Loved it" list (specifically Baby Driver, The Fall, and Velvet Goldmine). And the Atomic Blonde previews definitely piqued my interest, but I'd forgotten to check it out. Keep 'em coming!
posted by lovableiago at 11:56 AM on February 5, 2019

Velvet Goldmine

Very much. Also Crazy Rich Asians, American Hustle, Kingsman: Secret Service, Paris is Burning, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Layer Cake, Strictly Ballroom (noted above) and maybe some weird classics like Liquid Sky (strange cult film)
posted by jessamyn at 12:26 PM on February 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

Orlando is another one that hits the "arty/stylish" spot for me.
posted by stowaway at 12:26 PM on February 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Season 2 of the tv series Fargo! The others are great, but that one was really stylish and some great split-screen moments that made the whole season feel like it had been composed in a deeper way than most tv.
posted by msbrauer at 12:30 PM on February 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

You might like The Deuce.

I am also going to add one you should stay away from: the 2003 Wonderland. It's a master class in how to do what you're talking about incredibly badly. So lazy, and such a waste of money. I'm honestly getting mad just thinking about it right now. Just watch Boogie Nights again instead.
posted by queensissy at 12:41 PM on February 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

The UK TV series Utopia might fit your bill, though in a darker and more violent way than many of the examples.
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:17 PM on February 5, 2019

Bob Fosse's All That Jazz is maybe the greatest music video ever made! Try that!

Are you allergic to subtitles? If not try Wong Kar-Wai's Hong Kong-made films with cinematographer Christopher Doyle, particularly Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love. No exaggeration to say Wong/Doyle were a big influence on what's "stylish" today.

Following on your mention of Virgin Suicides I'd point you to Sofia Coppola's later Marie Antoinette which is largely lovely costume porn set to pop music. (Not a back-handed compliment; I love it.)

Maybe too obvious, but another widely acknowledged progenitor of this sort of meticulously crafted every-frame-a-painting style is Stanley Kubrick.

Oooh, and I'd like to mention that the TV show Halt and Catch Fire makes pretty awesome use of period music. It's four seasons long and the first season can be pretty bad -- like, laugh-out-loud ridiculous -- but it lays the groundwork for what becomes one of the most intelligent, compelling and affecting shows I've ever seen. The best part is it's always, always getting better as it goes along so you never have to worry that you should bail.

Most underrated show I know of is Steven Soderbergh's grim but very entertaining The Knick, which originally aired on Cinemax. It's period and quite stylish in the way that only a show that's shot and edited by its own director can be and it uses a score, not soundtrack songs, but the music itself is very unusual, at least for TV.
posted by Mothlight at 1:29 PM on February 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Dangerous Liaisons was rather sumptuous and took Oscars for production and costumes and had good music, etc.
posted by heyho at 1:29 PM on February 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Run Lola Run basically *is* a music video.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:32 PM on February 5, 2019 [13 favorites]

Also, Sexy Beast, Morvern Callar and other films by Jonathan Glazer and Lynne Ramsay.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:36 PM on February 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Maniac on Netflix was one that i felt was instantly iconic, even if I ended up feeling pretty meh about it overall. (I still want to watch it again for style)
posted by jeweled accumulation at 1:40 PM on February 5, 2019

Also Russian Doll had those vibes. And, uh, re-watching The Big Lebowski recently i was newly impressed by how perfect the production design was, so maybe check that out again if it’s been a while.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 1:42 PM on February 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Absolute Beginners (1986) has everything you're looking for. Julien Temple also directed many of your favorite music videos, and it really shows here. It's celebrated for its long opening tracking shot, and it's got Sade Adu!
posted by hydrophonic at 2:12 PM on February 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

It's been a while since the last time I watched it, but I immediately thought of Go.

Seconding Marie Antoinette.
posted by Mchelly at 2:12 PM on February 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Lost In Translation had a style and soundtrack that stuck with me for a long time.
posted by heyho at 2:32 PM on February 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

N'thing Almodovar, Run Lola Run, Liquid Sky, Jodorowsky (especially Holy Mountain), and JP Jeunet (esp. City of Lost Children and Amelie.)

Other, perhaps obvious ideas (mostly based on soundtrack integration):
Dirty Computer (which technically is a music video)
Train Spotting
Donnie Darko
Pulp Fiction
Natural Born Killers
Wings of Desire
Wrist Cutters: A Love Story.
posted by eotvos at 2:47 PM on February 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh. . and, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, if you don't mind a musical.
posted by eotvos at 2:52 PM on February 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Baz Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:43 PM on February 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Topsy Turvy
My Own Private Idaho
Blade Runner
Pusher II
Jonathan Demme's late 80's films, Something Wild and Married to the Mob
Trainspotting is a good answer--I think The Salton Sea and Spun also fit the bill.

Some of Dennis Potter's works have a unique style, in that they're musicals, but the actors lip-sync existing songs. The Singing Detective and Pennies from Heaven were wonderful miniseries that were each adapted into features.

It's interesting and difficult trying to think of older films like this. I can think of tons that look amazing, but it seems to me that except in musicals, music was used sparsely in film until relatively recently.
Forbidden Planet
Midnight Cowboy
A Clockwork Orange
World on a Wire
posted by heatvision at 8:14 AM on February 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Maybe not stylish, but Repo Man is very sound-oriented.

Or you might like Russian Ark?
posted by inexorably_forward at 11:46 PM on February 8, 2019

Both the U.K. and U.S. versions of Life on Mars are chock-full of good music.
posted by the sobsister at 12:50 PM on February 15, 2019

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