Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Review: The Runaways

No beginning credits. Only a single drop a blood on cement, cueing up "Roxy Roller" by Sweeny Todd in the background.

This drop of blood... is Cherie Currie's evidence of her inaugural period.

Today she is a now woman and rushes into the local fast food joint to clean up and switch panties with her sister.

The film opens with an unabashed, impudent attitude; this train of thought remains until the end. Just like the band itself.

Now we're getting somewhere.

Nice choice Floria.

The film is a story about how the band came to be (through artistically liberation, not exactly fact), and what happened over much the course of the career of them. Joan Jett is graced with Kristen Stewart playing her, and then same goes for as Dakota Fanning Cherie Currie; both looking every bit the part. We meet Cherie first, but then we follow Joan through a boutique clothing store. She empties a shopping bag of mostly change (pennies it looked like) and sparse amounts of cash, on to the counter and demands a black leather jacket, with plenty of metal involved. Then goes to meet her girlfriend to hug, kiss and huff marijuana.

Not after long, we meet the rest of the band, and of course, the eccentric maestro to the girls' orchestra. The first time we meet legendary rocker/producer, Kim Fowley (Shannon being plain ol' terrific), he is sporting a red leather fitted jacket, light grease applied to the hair, dog collar (complete with spikes), and heavy shit-kicker, rocker, boots. He just happens to be posted on the side of the club, chilling and conversing with a random attractive female. But he is also quietly emitting a, "I own this whole fucking block just 'cuz I'm standing on it," kinda vibe to the world.

Joan spots him outside on the street, and says with a light intimidation in her voice, "You're Kim, Fowley..." His reply is as follows:
"I am the king hysteria, himself. And let me guess... You sing in a band... And it's the greatest fuckin' band in the world... And I am the luckiest dog-fucker in outerspace--because I get to hear it first... right?"
He wants the girls to growl, scream, be sexy, lambs to lions, and he get's what he wants out of them. These aren't girls anymore after he's finished pounding them with his tenderizer into juicy, young, "jail-fucking-bait" meat. This is the man who has things on his mind like, "Elvis and Priscilla got divorced. The President is a prowler. And these housewives talk to their fucking plants!" That's the line that most accurately sums up how Kim works; abstract, off-beat, spontaneously thinking and growing and changing. And speaking of the girls...

Words and phrases are in this film, with plenty of color added. Words like, "Pussy" and "Fuck or "Cunt" and "Cock".  Phrases like, "I don't give a fuck." Or, "You're just a filthy, pussy..." Things like, span into things like this:
  • Parents are made fools of and embarrassed
  • Middle fingers are thrown up for all to see
  • Things are smoked, snorted and kissed aggressively
  • Things are stabbed and urinated upon belligerently
  • Hips gyrate like exotic dancers, tongues flicker like snakes, clothes are sensual and rockerish
  • All the while as eyes beam into the audience with true rocker heroics
Fanning and Stewart are responsible for the above.
And every second of it was invigorating to watch.

They obviously loved the fact that they both could go from pampered roles and a seriously annoying tween queen franchise, to this kind of liberating experience in front of a camera. So did I.

If you tell Joan Jett, "Girls don't play electric guitars..." She will show why your an asshole very quickly. If you unplug her from the amp, and then curse her, your mincemeat pal. This is the core attitude of Jett, and Stewart found it, exploited it and showed us all what she can do with it--when she isn't making out with vamps of wolfs. It was fuckin' awesome. Yet again I use "awesome" to describe what she does, and again, in the truest sense of the word--it was in deed awesome. This brings me excitement for her upcoming Welcome To The Rileys, co-staring with James Gandolfini. She's going to be important, and understands, once the music playing in the halls of high school is over, she needs to plan ahead saying, "I can do this shit too baby..." Roles like this, are a good way to say that. I'm gonna enjoy following her career.

Cherie Currie doesn't stare, she glowers with a burning intensity. Like a hawk, with an bad fuckin' attitude. In the words of Kim, as he sees her for the first time, (sipping from a straw out of a classic Mountain Dew bottle):
"I like your style. A little Bowie, a little Bardot, and a look on your face that says 'I could kick the shit out of a truck driver'."
This is what she's about, but she also has a sweet side as well. A side for her acutely jealous, yet supportive sister (Riley Keough). A side for her dying, drunken father (Brett Cullen), and a side for Joan, who connects with her the most.

By the time the third act comes around, it sorta just plugs in the notes of the band's disbanding and tries to figure out where to go next. I look forward to the '10-'11 award season and wonder who (Shannon, Fanning, Stewart) will do anything. I'm hoping Shannon yet again, grabs some sleeper prestige for another high volume, well executed, kooky performance. We'll see about he other two. But yes, the performances in this film are of a high caliber, which means 2 things:
  • Floria is an actor's director, connecting brain-waves between her and her leads, and bringing out reality and inner monologue to her shots
  • Or she just stood back, gave a few subtle notes, and gave the actors the freedom to simply do their thing
Either way, it was the greatest asset to the film. But Floria also knows how to tell a story, using blazing light, grungy atmosphere, or the honest grimness of life. Life, sometimes not as shiny as the outfits the girls wear. As Kim tells Cherie one of the dangers of rock-stardom:
 "It's press, my budding young starlet. Not prestige. Get used to it."

So, for Shannon and his potty mouth and unfiltered actions, Fanning and her lack of self-regard, and Stewart and her pure love for Rock & Roll, this movie is grabbing  3.5 outa 4. Because, short of a few nicely spliced approaches to the film by Floria, she knew this was an performance based film only. A movie for actors. And boy-o-boy, did I see some acting going on here. Way to go Floria.

Nice job girls.

Munki out.

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