Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: Movies that celebrate DJs
Vinyl records are officially popular again, and seemingly everyone’s a collector and DJ these days. Record Store Day #19 has come and gone, but vinyl has always been portrayed and celebrated on the big screen. Here are some of the best movies that celebrate DJs putting the needle on the wax or selectors flicking through 12-inches in a mom & pop shop.
Capitalizing on the craze of poppin’ and lockin’, Canon / MGM rushed this movie out. Amid the white privilege of a dancer trying to break into an urban world of aerosol cans and ski goggles – I’m talking to you Ice-T (New Jack City) – there are brief shots of DJ Chris ‘The Glove” Taylor. Fantastic studded leatherman attire? Okay!
La Haine (1995)
In this captivating piece of black & white banlieues life, DJ Cut Killer (The Dancer) cracks his knuckles and blends chanteuse Edith Piaf with rapper KRS-1. Whoop, whoop!
The Warriors (1979)
With rouged lips to die for and great dialogue, Lynne Thigpen (Anger Management) is the radio jock who whipped up the haters. She later appeared as second president of the world in the 1999 Bicentennial Man, proving the glass ceiling for women still won’t be shattered come 2150.
Up in the Air (2009)
It would seem a no-brainer to cast an actual DJ as a DJ in a movie, but spinmasters are often overlooked. Doug Liman’s (Swingers) film primarily showcases Vera Farmiga (The Departed) and George Clooney’s (Fantastic Mr. Fox) acting chops. But there is a joyous scene with LA’s own beatsmith Cut Chemist (Jennifer’s Body) on the ones and twos.
Mia Hansen Love’s Eden quietly slipped out into cinemas upon release. It added to the Daft Punk legend by making the real-life electronic duo pivotal characters. We love it for showing the two DJs lugging a box of records to a party and tentatively unleashing “Da Funk” on unsuspecting revellers.
The Netflix Originals movie from Alex Richanbach (Step Brothers) and writer Lauryn Kahn (The Other Guys) sees a young American woman (Gillian Jacobs) falling for a hotshot international DJ (Richard Madden) while on a “business trip” with her besties. At its core the film is about female friendship, but Ibiza also shows the role of a DJ is setting a vibe and bringing an entire club to life.
We Are Your Friends (2015)
Yes, it stars Zac Efron (Baywatch) and yes, it was made by one of the dudes from Catfish (Max Joseph). But aside from plenty of montages of bros living for the party, the film also celebrates the art and ambition of being a DJ.