Top 5 ‘U2’ in Cinema/Television

With all this music-talk continuing in the blogosphere thank to Castor at Anomalous Materials, I have been thinking more about music myself – hence this list. First off, before this Top 5, I shall lay dow some ground rules. Obviously ‘Live’ DVD’s or films don’t count – so no U2:3D, ZOOTV or PopMart. Additionally to that, the tour-film Rattle and Hum directed by Phil Joanou doesn’t count because, though released theatrically, it’s a live DVD deep down. Finally, having only recently discussed The Million Dollar Hotel, its fair to state that as U2 and Bono actually wrote the whole soundtrack, thats discounted. Also, Goldeneye, is only written by Bono and The Edge, but alas is not performed by U2, so that doesn’t count either.
Blog Cabins always mentions the ‘notable’ films he hasn’t seen when analysing years in reflection. In the same way, it appears that a bunch of film I have not seen use U2 songs. Namely, The Heartbreak Kid (‘One’), Elizabethtown (‘In The Name Of Love’), Brothers (‘Winter’) and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (‘Ultraviolet’). Sorry Ben Stiller, your Heartbroken Kid, I’ll bet, slaughters the song.

Before I rank the Top 5 Best use of U2 tracks in songs, lets note the horrendous uses of some songs: ‘Bad’ in Taking Lives (‘Bad’ is possibly one of U2’s best tracks and it was used in sex-drama with Ethan Hunt and Angelina Jolie. Tragic), ‘Beautiful Day’ in anything – it is always used and, though I have only seen its use on sports programmes in England, I have additionally seen it used in the film Bandits (Though IMDB notes the use of the same song in Smallville, CSI:NY and Nim’s Island). Obviously, we cannot forget the atrocious ‘remix’ of ‘Elevation’ in Lara Croft:Tomb Raider. In fairness, I reckon thats more to do with fact that ‘Elevation’ is a crap song anyway – its just U2 trying to recreate Blur’s ‘Song 2’…

Lets Countdown …

5. Gangs of New York (‘The Hands That Built America’) – I have specifically hunted down the version with an orchestral beginning – opposed to the slightly less-epic version featuring on 2002 ‘Best Of 1990-2000’. I persoanlly like Gangs of New York at any rate (though I was in absolute shock that Andy and John from The Hollywood Saloon only recently spoke about films that should never-have-been and specified Gangs of New York as the worst Scorsese film! No sir.)

4. About A Boy (Zoo Station) – I like About A Boy for a number of reasons. Its virtually a rom-com for boys. Hugh Grant lives the perfect life and, having said that, you know he has the sweetest sound-system known to man… meaning Zoo Station would sound incredible in his flat. I couldn’t find the scene itself, but it is used in the scene as the young lad is ringing Hugh Grant’s doorbell…

3. Three Kings (In Gods Country) – I have been desperate to rewatch Three Kings for a long time but have yet to do so. But rarely does a film use a song so effectively that it finishes the film with such a positive buzz. In keeping with highlighting the songs being use in the sequence itself I have a section from the film which shows the final 10-minutes. Skip to 04.15 to see the use of the song…

2. Friends (With or Without You) – I know its a little bit cliche, but forgive me for having a heart. I think it is one of my favourite U2 songs, if not the favourite song. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the scene itself but I found one of those silly ‘dedication’ videos that uses the song itself… the closest I could get considering…

1. Batman Forever (Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me) – I think this song is Number One for a bunch of reasons. First off, the video is incredible. Apparently Bono was actually considered for Batman, but I think its safe to say that he should stick to what he knows and leave the animators to create the only version of Batman Bono will ever play. Secondly, you could only get this track either on the soundtrack or on a single (remember them) before 2002 … so it remained one of those incredible songs that was difficult to get hold of – alongside Oasis’ ‘Whatever’ and multiple others…

Large Association of Movie Blogs


  1. Very much like numbers 3 and 4.

    Did you ever see Tell No One? It has a great, great scene using U2…if you have, I'm shocked it didn't make this list.

    Oh, and there was one of the Academy Award-nominated live action shorts from this year ('Na Wewe') that used U2 in quite the eye-rolling fashion – totally ruined it for me.

  2. Further examples…

    “Out of Control” playing through the opening of INTERMISSION
    “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)” energizing the middle of DIVING BELL & THE BUTTERFLY
    “With or Without You” wailing out over the climax of BLOWN AWAY (dude – how'd you miss that??

    …all of this over and above the badass theme Adam & larry composed for MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE

  3. Alas, I have not seen TELL NO ONE. Which track do they use? The shorts don't get screened over in the UK – or I haven't been aware of them being screened. Yeah, the obvious ones are in the mix too – and 'cmon, no love for GANGS OF NEW YORK?

  4. INTERMISSION? BLOWN AWAY? Never heard of them – maybe I have heard the name INTERMISSION, but BLOWN AWAY? I got nothin'. What are they about? Y'know there is a film comin' out soon called KILLING BONO? Looks pretty funny! Again, in the same way GOLDENEYE didn't count, the MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE 'remix' doesn't count!

  5. BLOWN AWAY is a little bit silly but a fun watch – film about a bomber in Boston and it stars Jeff Bridges, Tommy Lee Jones, Lloyd Bridges, and Forrest Whitaker. Give it a watch sometime – should be able to pick it up dirt cheap

  6. So in keeping with the Hollywood Saloon theme of NEVER HAPPENED, if you have to take away 1 Scorsese film from his catalogue, which one do you pick?

  7. Wow, I feel honoured! The one Scorsese film would be… THE AGE OF INNOCENCE. C'mon, for all the beautiful period-ness to it, it is so slow-paced and the romance rings completely untrue. For one, I'd have Winona Ryder over Pheiffer any day! Daniel Day Lewis is capable of so much more!

  8. Thanks for sharing Simon. But for all the reasons you don't like AGE OF INNOCENCE, I think work as strengths. Slow-paced? Just like the times it takes place in where your whole day might revolve around what to wear that evening to the Opera. The pace feels correct. Your pick of Winona over Michelle says more about you than the character of Archer. He had nothing in common with the girl, but the woman was his soul mate…and based on the rules of society, he couldn't have her. If you are looking for a flashy Day Lewis performance like in GANGS, you will be missing the brilliant internal acting he displays with every look, glance and repressed gesture.

    But from the Scorsese angle, I think this film was a big step forward in his work as a filmmaker. This was his 2nd film in widescreen, and his film grammar is quite different from CAPE FEAR or GOODFELLAS. Having been a student of his work since 1980, I can say that I really saw something new and different in his work with this film.

    Plus it's an excellent adaptation of the novel.

    Now don't quote me wrong on this, I never said GANGS OF NEW YORK was Scorsese's WORST film. It's much better than BOXCAR BERTHA. I think it's a good film. But while the revenge/romance plot is entertaining, it never really reached deep inside me or moved me. When I first saw it in 2002, I didn't like it as much as BRINGING OUT THE DEAD, KUNDUN, CASINO, AGE or CAPE FEAR.

    But that's the thing about Scorsese, he has such a diverse body of work in so many genres and styles, that picking a least favorite is bound to be somebody else's favorite.

    For the record, KING OF COMEDY, MEAN STREETS, AFTER HOURS and LIFE LESSONS are also among my favorites.

  9. I feel embarressed with my answer now. I can completely appreciate that my preferance of woman is not the best way to criticise a Scorsese film. Though the slow-pace was a concern. Unofortunately, I am not the completist I would like to be with Scorsese – his filmography combined with the documentaries is epic and, of the films you mentioned, I have yet to watch CAPE FEAR, KUNDUN and KING OF COMEDY. LIFE LESSONS is the short he completed on NEW YORK STORIES isn't it? More importantly, I haven't seen BOXCAR BERTHA of ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE.

    Now that you mention it, BRINGING OUT THE DEAD is probably worse – on the grounds that is a meanding retread of similar themes and styles to TAXI DRIVER: Nic Cage is nowhere near as good as De Niro – and the it simply drags on a fair bit considering the 3-day timeframe it is set within. Though I do love that scene with Ving Rhames saving the one patients life.

    My favourites? GOODFELLAS (C'mon, how can it NOT be a favourite?), RAGING BULL (Operatic and violent – with such class!) and, i must admit, I adore SHUTTER ISLAND. It was my favourite film in 2010 – better than SOCIAL NETWORK and better than INCEPTION, SHUTTER ISLAND truly is incredible.

  10. SHUTTER ISLAND is probably (now) my least favorite Scorsese film…that said…it's a good film. Very well directed, acted, shot, edited and scored. I just never cared for the story or the characters plight. Much in the same way I couldn't get into the characters in VANILLA SKY. If you had given me this script to direct, I would have passed…but would have no trouble recommending it to another director. Just not to my personal taste. Either that or I'm just burned out on this type of “concept' film.

    As for BRINGING OUT being a retread of the themes and styles in TAXI, I would not fully agree. It's clear the focus and aims and psychological breakdown of the characters are very different. It's has some shared DNA to be sure (Scorsese/Sharader), but the style of the picture is closer to AFTER HOURS than anything else.

    I would suggest to start at the beginning with Scorsese and move forward. WHO'S THAT KNOCKING and MEAN STREETS make a double double feature. ALICE and NEW YORK, NEW YORK are also big departures and show great range for the director is styles of acting and cinematography. KING and AFTER HOURS are very dark and funny and fantastic examples of adapting a film grammar style for each film. COLOR OF MONEY is a personal favorite, being a fan of THE HUSTLER, it's a great big gift of a sequel to soak in….with some really amazing photography and editing.

    LAST TEMPTATION remains one of Scorsese's most personal films and his passion is in every frame. Groundbreaking music/score from Peter Gabriel.

    Sure, TAXI, RAGING and GOODFELLAS will always be “the” Scorsese films that get the most attention. But there is so much more to discover in the other films.

  11. I haven't seen AFTER HOURS, but I shall try and hunt down the recommended double bills. The only one aalready watched is MEAN STREETS, but there is no harm in watching that again!

    I've watched LAST TEMPTATION and I loved it. I get annoyed at people – like my Mum – who were all anti-LAST TEMPTATION without having watched it. There is something very interesting about seeing the God-as-man opposed to Man-as-God version of Jesus's story.

    One big double-bill I will engage in soon is THE HUSTLER and COLOR OF MONEY!

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