CINEMA: Dead Beat

Recipe for a specious musical biopic: be a rebel, die young

The most pungent cultural spillage from the early death of any rock star -- of Buddy Holly or Ritchie Valens, Jim Morrison or Sid Vicious -- may be the movie made from his life. Producers paw through old press clippings, take a quick snort of the current zeitgeist, tack on a note of mythical tragedy and voila!, a tale for our time with a hit sound track guaranteed.

This is a low business, exploiting a musician's notoriety and an audience's star lust. It has reached a nadir of sorts with Backbeat, a homoerotic paean to Stuart Sutcliffe (Stephen Dorff), the fifth...

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