Sunday, March 21, 2010

Review: The Runaways

The master list of my guilty pleasure films is heavily populated with movies that rock.  Give me a girl group, a pack of boys in platforms, a glitter sheen and some electric guitars and chances are I'll be willing to give the movie at least a couple shots.  I love the energy of the scene.  The casual corruption, the clothes, the coon eyed make-up and the soundtrack it produces.  I've watched Todd Haynes's flawed glam epic Velvet Goldmine at least a half dozen times, hold pop tart tales like camp fiasco Spice World and Josie and the Pussycats dear, and have a soft spot for Russ Meyer's slasher soft-core Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

I won't be the first person to point out how similar the meteoric rise and fall of The Runaways was to Beyond the Valley's girl band The Carrie Nations.  That film, a piece of fiction (from the mind of Roger Ebert, no less), seemed to partially predict the narrative arc of the teenage superstars five years prior to the band's birth. Of course, it's just a matter of rock formula. Everyone loves to watch the making of the band, the success of the band, and the downfall of the band.  It's pure music industry fable; do everything right until your get everything wrong.  As a film, The Runaways doesn't necessarily try anything new.  What it does do, however, is take enough chances with its cast and get enough pieces right to create something that captures the essence of rock's filthy downside while simultaneously making something compulsively watchable....



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