Moonlighting Musicians: 8 Movies Directed By Rock Stars

Madonna directing. Photo: Philip Ramey Photography, LLC / Contributor (Getty Images)

Can you name any movies made by musicians? Surprisingly enough, Rob Zombie, Madonna, Bob Dylan, and Fred Durst have all taken turns in the director’s chair but most musicians avoid switching out their guitars for movie cameras.

After looking at some of the reviews of these movies made by musician directors, we can’t say that’s a bad choice. Here are eight movies directed by musicians. Are they any good?

1. Filth and Wisdom

Madonna was already a multi-talented performer and actress before she tried her hand at directing. While this movie features Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hutz as the lead role, it wasn’t very well received by critics.

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A review sample: “A terrible, terrible worthless movie you shouldn’t give any time to.” Probably her worst decision since going to the British accent.

2. The Sentimental Engine Slayer

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of The Mars Volta directed this enigmatic movie about a young man struggling to deal with maturity. Something completely unrelatable for all of us. While the movie isn’t Rodriguez-Lopez’s first film, it’s the first to be publicly released.

The movie was generally well-received. As one reviewer notes, “This is a definitely worth the watch, and I’m yearning to see where the director goes from here.”

3. Christmas on Mars

Flaming Lips’ lead singer Wayne Coyne seems like a pretty out-there dude. Between the giant hamster balls and literally any Flaming Lips song, it’s no surprise Christmas on Mars is weird.

This movie features hallucinations, aliens and a Martian baby. It’s definitely right at home with the rest of Coyne’s work. Critics didn’t really know what to make of this thing. As one review noticed, “it’s mainly pregnant with pauses that too frequently suck all the fun/oxygen out of each scene, like some art-film parody.”

Maybe it is a parody?

4. Renaldo & Clara

Bob Dylan wears many hats: poet, author, and musician have all been met with success. While his time in front of the camera has been well-regarded, his time behind it was not as successful. Renaldo & Clara features Dylan and his first wife, Sara Dylan, acting in skits alongside Joan Baez and Allen Ginsberg. One reviewer called it “the very, very, very worst thing ever made.”

We’re guessing that means no sequel.

5. None But The Brave

Frank Sinatra was already world-famous by the time this movie came out in 1965. Featuring Japanese and American soldiers stranded on an island (what?), the film focuses on Sinatra as the lead.

Initial reactions to this film were less than positive, and it’s generally viewed as a misstep for Old Blue Eyes. One review notes that “every war-movie cliche ever uttered turns up here somewhere.”

6. The Education of Charlie Banks

Noted lyricist and master storyteller Fred Durst tried to branch out into films with this coming-of-age story set in Manhattan. Even though it featured Jessie Eisenberg and Jason Ritter, audiences and critics met this movie with complete indifference when it came out.

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Most critics didn’t so much hate it as feel ambivalent about the film. As one reviewer said, “You take one scene that doesn’t quite get there followed by another scene that doesn’t quite get there, all of a sudden you’ve got a movie that doesn’t quite get there.”

7. The Man with the Iron Fists

RZA, of Wu-Tang Clan, starred and directed this martial arts movie about a blacksmith who decides to take justice into his own (metal) hands. Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu also starred in the film, and Eli Roth wrote it.

The movie’s not exactly celebrated, as a review calls it: “lunatic, slipshod, absurdly violent, horribly acted, and borderline incomprehensible.” At least it’s only borderline incomprehensible.

8. The Devil’s Rejects

Horrorcore artist Rob Zombie directed several movies and, shocker, they’re all of the horror persuasion. The Devil’s Rejects explores a backwoods family and their love of murder and gore. Critics accuse the movie as being over the top, extremely violent and gory, which, duh.

One reviewer called it “a sickening, socially-irresponsible glorification of depraved and sadistic behavior.” We don’t know what they were expecting from someone named Rob Zombie.

Luckily, the next time a musician decides to pick up a camera, he or she should feel no pressure. It’s not like there’s a real high bar to clear.