Many of these movies are inspiring and fascinating explorations of the psychology of music. Some of these are just fun or iconic.
This is an amazing documentary about the power of music. Watch how people suffering from Alzheimer's disease light up when they hear music from their youth. By playing and creating music, by being a musician, you affect people deeply and significantly.
The 5th Dementia
The 5th Dementia is a band made up of musicians who have various forms of dementia. Despite each musician's condition, the music still comes out and gives them joy and community.
My Music Brain
This excellent National Geographic documentary looks into what we know about music and the brain. It includes Sting having his brain scanned while listening to and imagining music. If you have any interest in neuroscience and can track this down, watch it. (Alternate title: The Musical Brain.)
Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet
At the age of 19, guitarist Jason Becker joined The David Lee Roth Band. Soon after, he was diagnosed with ALS. This documentary follows Jason's incredible determination to keep making music. He's a true inspiration.
This is one of my favorites music docs (but I'm weird). A blues musician discovers the music from the center of Asia. I don't think the joy of music has ever been captured on film better than this.
Pink Floyd: The Wall
Written by bassist Roger Waters, this is one of music's most iconic cult films. If you haven't seen it, you probably should.
Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo
Directed by Les Claypool, this mockumentary follows the jam band Electric Apricot and their journey to play Festeroo. If you're into the jam band scene, it's a must-see. It's Les, so of course it's goofy, weird and fun.
Mike Judge Presents: Tales from the Tour Bus
This is a hilarious animated series telling many crazy musician stories. Season 1 is about country musicians. Season 2 is about funk musicians including Bootsy and Rick James!
Touching the Void
This is mountain-climbing's most famous story. It has nothing to do with music, but I loan this movie to students frequently. This documentary is about courage and determination; it's about overcoming the most insurmountable odds. I re-watch this movie whenever I feel like I'm trying to do something impossible.
In our current pandemic state, this may be the perfect movie to show you the depths of human strength and will. It is an intense ride. For some right now, it may be too much. If you're wanting a movie to get away, this is not it.