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Volume #2 of my "2nd Chance Movie Review" series, which I hope to continue for the indefinite future.

I love movies, mostly because they are the visual manifestation of books and stories, which I learned to love at a very young age.

But I digress, tonight, I offer up for your perusal "The Runaways", a film which I passed on a walk-in Theatre viewing, mostly for the content. After one watches The Doors, how can any other Rock n Roll biopic compare?

Follow me below the fold, to find out if I've wasted my 106 minutes, or not...

The Runaways, co-starring Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart, along with a great supporting role by Michael Shannon as The Runaways manager Kim Fowley. Movie Stats:

Length: 106 minutes
Stars: viewers give it 6.6 out of 10 Stars (10,663 votes)
Reviews: 92 User Reviews, 242 off-site Critics Reviews
Distributed in the US by: Apparition
Original Release Date: 08 April 2010 (Maylasia)

Since this movie is over four months from theater release, and is no longer available outside of DVDs or paid TV, I'll include a plot summary:

  1975 San Fernando Valley, CA - Joan Larkin reinvents herself as "Joan Jett", and lurks about clubs while trying to turn herself into a female Rock-n-Roller. She runs into the odd and oily Kim Fowley at one of them. She gets the nerve up to talk to him - and presents him with a chance at the golden ring: she wants to create an All Girl Rock Band. Fowley is caught, like a fly in a spider's web, he pursues the additional members of the Bank, and they finally round out the Band with 15-year-old Cherie Curry, who only lip-syncs Rock songs and never really saw herself as a real singer until Joan Jett and Kim Fowley 'discover' her.
   Fowley, after thieving from the five girls who make up the Band for a while, claiming they weren't getting paid for gigs, but "paying their dues", manages to ink them to a contract with Mercury Records. The Runaways hit the Japanese tour. After Fowley pushing her as the "front man" of the group, including rauchy photo shoots and unsuitable stage costumes, Cherie falls prey to drugs and family pressures by the end of the film and leaves The Runaways.

Of course, if you recall any of the PR for this film, you will already know that one-half of the co-starring leads is the now infamous Kristen Stewart, of Twilight and it's sequels, Twilight Saga: New Moon and Eclipse.

For some readers this information would be enough to stop you from reading the rest of the diary. I urge you to overcome this, well, urge and read on....

While Kristen Stewart (playing the iconic Joan Jett) evinces some of her signature mannerisms (which she shows even in early works like Zathura: A Space Adventure-2005 and Catch That Kid-2004), like her Marilyn Monroe-ish catch-in-the-throat just when delivering an emotional line, these mannerisms do not dominate her performance. Luckily for her, it's what saves what might have become a clownish performance and instead delivers a somewhat raw and believable portrayal of the early Rock Goddess that Joan Jett was morphing into during the period covered in the film.

There is single moment in the film where Stewart shines, and ironically, it is a short clip fairly early in the film; wherein Stewart (as Jett) is walking away from the camera... right hand holding her electric guitar case, right shoulder dropped from the weight of it. Head bent forward as though she is watching her own footsteps, she trudges on, as she slowly but resolutely walks away from a ludicris scene where she is hoping for some guitar lessons playing rock songs, but the teacher tells her "Girls don't play electric guitar." And proceeds to try and make her learn the children's song "On Top of Old Smoky".

A much stronger performance was given by Dakota Fanning.

While Joan Jett is the more well known real life character from the film, Fanning (playing Cherie Curry) gives a understated performance of a young girl emerging into womanhood in the most unlikely of circumstances. Age 15, her mother announces to Cherie and her sister that she is marrying and moving to Indonesia. The girls can go with her, or go live with their alcoholic father and Aunt Evie. Cherie is quietly flamboyant, exuding sexual heat unappreciated by her peers - but which quickly catches the eye of Michael Shannon (playing Kim Fowley, the Runaways odd manager), who offers her a future she only dared dream about, as the member of a Rock n Roll band.

The film brings the feel of the mid-1970s with great costumes and sets. It seemed more like a home-movie shot from the era than a commercial film during much of the early and mid portions of the film, which contributed greatly to my enjoyment of it.

Trivia about the film from "A New York Times review of the film quotes Joan Jett as saying that when she listened to the first tape of Kristen Stewart singing one of her songs, she thought it was a mistake and that it was actually her."

Score: 6 out of 10 - Not worth full-theatre ticket price, but a gritty look at the actual music scene, on the street, in the mid-1970s.

Rent it or watch it online if you have one of the Movie channels, but don't spend the dollars to purchase the DVD - you'll only watch it once.

Not a waste of 106 minutes, but I'd rather have seen something else.

Originally posted to Seriously Seeking Cinema on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 03:30 AM PST.

Also republished by Electronic America: Progressives Film, music & Arts Group.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    "in Order to form a more perfect Union"
    Basta de Guerra. No más. Enough War. No more.

    by Angie in WA State on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 03:30:02 AM PST

    •  n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Angie in WA State

      FIVE TONS OF FLAX!!!!!

      by McGirk on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 09:24:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Funny how Lita Ford is overlooked (3+ / 0-)

      She was quite succesfull for a while in the 80's. More popular than Joan Jett for a few years.

      FIVE TONS OF FLAX!!!!!

      by McGirk on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 09:27:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Cherie Curry's descent into drug addiction (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Angie in WA State, Dvalkure

      (while being managed by Kim Fowley) reflected a similar fall into addiction, experienced by a boy that I taught guitar.  

      His group won the American Dream Contest, and immediately after receiving the award, they were contacted by Kim Fowley who soon became their manager.  "John Doe" (my student) called me the night they won the contest and he told me about the band's meeting with Kim Fowley...he had always been a happy, all-American boy and he felt that winning the contest was the crowning point of his musical career, and he had hopes that working with Fowley was his ticket to fame.  

      When I saw him two years later, I didn't recognize him.  He wasn't much more than an empty shell, similar to the way Cherie Curry appeared in the film, The Runaways -  before she quit and walked away from Fowley.

      Fowley introduced "John Doe" to a very seductive lifestyle - including dates with the Penthouse Pet of the Year.  He hooked him up with another entertainer (and his very famous groupie girlfriend) who in turn introduced him to designer drugs.

      It has taken many years for him to crawl out from under his drug addiction.  He no longer has aspirations of becoming a star.

      Kim Fowley is well known around Hollywood.  Many of us remember him from his Hollywood Argyle days and the record Alley Oop.  He is a colorful figure, but, to me, he represents the dark side of the entertainment industry.

  •  I liked the Runaways (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angie in WA State, Dvalkure, foufou

    and The Doors didn't do much for me.  

    Thanks for the movie review.  I don't feel bad now that I didn't see the film in the cinema, but I may watch it on DVD.

    The Other Atheists: It's not a belief. It's a null hypothesis.

    by Ana Thema on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 05:42:23 AM PST

  •  It was OK, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angie in WA State

    but I also found it hard to watch.

    DF and KS were both good, and as much as I like Joan Jett for what she did from a professional standpoint, I never found her music terribly compelling. The whole "Rock and Roll" bit is just too campy--it's like Gary Glitter without the sardonic sense to not take itself too seriously.

    You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

    by FrankCornish on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 06:22:29 AM PST

  •  Liked the film enough to see it twice... (4+ / 0-)

    on dvd ! And for free !

     I work in a video store ( maybe the last one standing ) and get to order the movies - not having to pay to see them is about the only 'benefit' that comes with the job. Other than a fair wage, pleasant work, fine co-workers and a chance to talk Cinemah or moooviees with customers. I guess health insurance with full dental is asking an awful lot, but I do get to watch dvds for free. And there's store cat.

       Aside from being grateful for having Joan Jett brought to my attention, I loved the depiction of Joan and Cherie's relationship. Don't often get this kind of thing in American movies. The portrayal of the time was right on - and I was there, so I know ! Dakota Fanning may be the better actress, but I do think Kristen Stewart did a great job as Joan Jett. She may come by the surly tom-boy energy pretty naturally but she really brought the artistic drive, delivering a wonderful portrayal of talent unfolding, the joy and sacrifice required to create and maintain a strong personal vision through thick and thin.

     Michael Shannon was so strange and creepy as Kim Fowley, I had to see the real Kim on the dvd extras to believe it wasn't just made up out of whole cloth ! He is an extremely fine actor, always a fascinating performance. If any one saw him in the film 'Bug' -( and almost nobody did ! ) you will never forget his name or his face.

     The other great pleasure I got from this film was getting onto the YouTube and rediscovering Joan Jett, herself. What a woman ! What an artist. Worthy.


    Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be artists.

    by Dvalkure on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 06:55:43 AM PST

  •  Mostly, i think that is the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angie in WA State

    real problem with movies today...not that everything sucks, but that it's all "Eh, it's all right," Nothing makes me want to run to the theatre.
    "The Runaways" wasn't about the was more like Joan/ Cherie femmeslash.(Which I personally found vaguely sexy, but still didn't really make the movie all it could be.)

    "You have three friends in your life: God, your Mama, and the Democratic Party. And I'm not so sure about your Mama." --Alan Grayson

    by chicating on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 08:10:33 AM PST

  •  I absolutely (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angie in WA State

    like the Doors movie--but surprisingly, not the director's cut, but the shorter version.

    But don't you think Meg Ryan was playing the 60's Goldie Hawn in that movie?

    Haven't seen this movie, mostly because I think the Runaways and particularly Joan Jett were big fakes and I have no interest.  

    Ordinary political process is dead. The Supreme Court killed it. In Chambers. With a gavel.

    by Publius2008 on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 08:44:29 AM PST

    •  I kind of think (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Angie in WA State

      Meg Ryan generally is channelling Goldie...well, not in "In The Cut"(Heh..."Sock it to me!" would take on a different tone, then)

      "You have three friends in your life: God, your Mama, and the Democratic Party. And I'm not so sure about your Mama." --Alan Grayson

      by chicating on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 11:47:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I saw the Runaways (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angie in WA State

    I mean the band, back in the 70's, a lot.  You couldn't avoid them if you were doing post-prog rock and early punk shows at the Whiskey in L.A. and the like.  They were ubiquitous, and there were plenty of jokes how you couldn't get away from them.

    I've appreciated them somewhat more in retrospect (and while I've always found her a bit tiring, obviously Joan Jett had a very respectable solo career), but they were a bit of a prototype-rippled-muscle-femme-metal joke in a way, and I've always been a bit bemused at the attempts to turn them into some sort of countercultural feminist icon.  Believe me, "Kim Fowley" and "feminist" don't go in the same sentence.

    Their drummer, Sandy West, passed away not too long ago, btw.

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