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Digital Divide: August 2010

| July 30, 2010 | 0 Comments

The Runaways
Sony Pictures

As James Brown famously shouted, “This is a man’s world!” As far as the music business was concerned, he was right — until 1975, that is. That was the year Joan Jett and Sandy West teamed up to form the first successful all-girl rock band, The Runaways. Along with guitarist Lita Ford, bassist Michael Steel (the first of many involved with the group and eventual member of The Bangles), as well as lead singer Cherie Currie, The Runaways took the testosterone-fueled rock world head on; and while they might not have come out on top, they certainly held their own.

The Runaways chronicles the formation and early success of the band, as seen through the eyes of Jett and Currie. After approaching producer Kim Fowley with their idea for an all-girl band, the three recruit the rest of the members based in large part on their look and type, rather than playing ability. Thus, Currie is brought in to be the Brigitte Bardot-meets-David Bowie member.

From there, the film falls into the standard biopic formula: kids form band, band becomes successful, band members become drug-addled, band breaks up. The film pulls it off a little better than most, simply because of the performances of the three leads.

As Fowley, Michael Shannon hits the manic/obsessive/control freak vibe just right. Yeah, he’s a dick, but not enough to make you wonder why anyone would pay attention to a word the guy says. Dakota Fannning does well in the challenging role of Currie — a daring leap for a 16-year-old.

But it’s Kristen Stewart who’s perfectly cast as Jett. Her stoner demeanor and slow deliveries make her the ideal choice to portray the legend, and she pulls it off masterfully.

However, the rest of the band gets short-shrift. After forming the group, drummer West basically disappears from the film, while Lita Ford is reduced to popping up every now and then to bitch at Currie for being the most visible member.

Then there’s Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development, Whip It) completely wasted as the bassist named Robin. Since no one named Robin ever played in The Runaways, one can only assume that the character is an amalgamation of all bassists. Not surprising, though, as the film is based on Currie’s book Neon Angel: A Memoir Of A Runaway and co-produced by Jett.

The Blu-Ray special features are nice, with commentary by Jett, Stewart, and Fanning that gives perspective as to what actually happened (a surprisingly large amount of the film did, according to Jett) and what didn’t. You can also watch the film with “movieIQ” turned on, which gives details about everything happening in every scene — from who’s who to what music is playing.

Film: *** Features: ***1/2

Chicago Blackwawks: 2010 Stanley Cup Champions
Warner Bros.

While the majority of the world has moved on, we here at IE are still pretty geeked about the whole Blackhawks-winning-that-big-cup thing. In fact, our editor is still driving around town with a full-sized Blackhawks flag out the window honking at everyone he passes. A 49-year drought will do that to a person.

So it’s no surprise that whenever a new commemorative magazine, DVD, poster, or chotchky is released, we’re on it like fur on a weasel.

Chicago Blackwawks: 2010 Stanley Cup Champions might be your standard-issue season wrap-up video, but it’s extremely well made and features everything you could possibly want to relive about a championship season. It takes you from the opening game, to the most confusing winning goal in Stanley Cup history.

The DVD also includes behind-the-scenes features on the locker room celebration, the victory parade in downtown Chicago, and the drafting of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

Yeah, we’re homers, and this kind of thing is chum to the sharks, sue us. We’re just enjoying it while we can. Remember, this is Chicago — it might be another 49 years before it happens again.

Film: *** Features: ***

— Tim Hiatt

Category: Columns, Digital Divide, Monthly

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