Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Runaways ( a rock and roll movie review )


So I'll be the first to admit I know nothing about The Runaways. I've heard it in passing that Joan Jett and Lita Ford were members of the band but their names never inspired me to look them up like the time that I checked out Kamelot because Epica's siren Simone Simmons did a guest vocal on one of their songs "The Haunting (Somewhere in Time).

Sadly, I have to admit it was Kristen Stewart starring as Joan Jett and the promise of her snogging Dakota Fanning that lit the fire under my arse to see it ( but mostly it was Stewart, mostly ).

This movie proves that there will probably never be a greatly respected all-female rock band regardless of how talented they are because, for some stupid reason, women can't rock as well as men. I, of course, think that's rubbish, but I AM only one man after all. I've always thought that women do it better than men or at least just as well. On the other end of the coin, when I'm up at the front row, between mad bouts of head-banging, if I had to look up and my only view was a crotch, I would rather it be that of a woman than a sweaty, tattooed man ( because, frankly, when you look up from that angle from the front of the stage, that's all you see really.

I am a huge fan of the whole 'girl power' movement, and as previously mentioned; I find it an absolute pleasure to see four ( or more ) gorgeous women proving the masses wrong. Though it IS about the music, you can't deny that it helps to have something nice to look at, as well as listen to.

Throughout the history of Rock bands like The Donnas, Vixen, Aroarah and the Runaways prove that they have talent to spare and rock with the best of them but you'll probably never see any of them headlining The Shoreline, the Superdome or Madison Square Gardens: which, also, is sad. But I digress.

The Runaways tells the story of one of the first all-girl rock Bands and how they became the band that ruled the scene (albeit momentarily) and that it started as something of a novelty in the eyes of mentally fucked producer Kim Fowley and ended four years later as a self-destructive, fucked up family of sorts. Sex, drugs and rock n roll with loads of alcohol to wash it all down is the driving force of this movie with dashes of humanity and a little bit of humility thrown in.

They all, at least the members of the band that they center the attention on all have their own issues and character flaws. Again, not knowing very much about Joan Jett, spends most of the movie rocking out, looking after young Cherie or making out with just about every girl around ( not complaining ). I have to say, I'm not sure if it's Stewart being type-casted (by me) but it was basically just Bella Swan with a foul mouth. She seems to have no real ability to act as another person because as I watched the movie all I saw was Bella. It's kinda like Mark Hamill; he IS Luke Skywalker and when you see him in any movie that's who you see. You can't help it.

Dakota Fanning was great as Cherie Currie though I thought it was a little disturbing to see her in this role. I had it in the back of my mind that the police were going to knock down my door and arrest me for some lascivious act against a minor for the shit she did in this movie. Is Dakota doing drugs (or at least acting "stoned") or making out with Joan or having sex with the roadie or dressing like a skank. I would watch and sporadically throughout the movie, feel guilty that I was watching it. It did feel a little bit sleazy at times.

Regardless I did enjoy the movie and I was surprised that Fanning and Stewart sang their parts instead of it being lip-synced to the original music and on watching the bonus features Stewart learned the guitar parts to make the performances more realistic. i also did find myself Googling and IMDBing and Wikipediaing people and events and was fascinated by what I saw on the TV and what I read on the net. There definitely IS an interesting story there and the director and cast members did an amazing job of telling that story. I have a new-found respect and admiration for the lovely ladies of the runaways (though in looking up old pics and vids of the REAL Runaways, they were all actually quite homely) because of what they did and what they went through to get there. I totally recommend this movie and will definitely add it to my collection.

I do really hope that one day these women rockers ARE respected for their talent ad much as they are idolized for their beauty and I hope they never give up on their dreams no matter how much the record industry decided on what we want to see and hear.

Here is the original Runaways, performing Cherry Bomb in Japan in 1977

I think they did an excellent job as casting this film. Dakota worked with the real Cherie to get everything down and Joan worked with Kristin and was a huge influence in the movie. Here's the same song with Dakota and Kristin singing on this version:

Jumping ahead to the 1980's, you can't not think of Vixen. I've always thought they were a pretty kick-ass band, even though they never had a chance rocking out with the likes of boys with bigger hair and more makeup than they could ever sport.

I think we can pretty much skip the 90's and jump ahead to this decade and rock out with The Donnas:

...and one of my favourite bands of all times, Aroarah!!!

1 comment:

Rob Liz said...

I really had no desire to see this for two reasons. You pretty much hit it on the head that Kristin Stewart has no range as an actress. From every interview I've seen with Joan Jett she's a pretty blaise person to begin with so Stewart did not have to stretch much to portray her.
Also for the fact that even though the movie was adapted from Cherie Currie's memoirs there is still that long standing feud between Lita Ford and Joan Jett that forced exclusion of her in the film other then name alone.

The Runaways were trailblazers because in the 70's it was unheard of to have a rock/punk band comprised of all girls. It's still not popular even to this day but there is still more acceptance then there was 30 years ago.