Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways

I was just expecting this to be a run-of-the-mill rock documentary about all things rock and roll, but it turned out to be quite a bit more…mostly tragic rock ‘n’ roll.

The Runaways were an all-female band formed in 1975 by drummer Sandy West (16 years old) and guitarist Joan Jett (17 years old), and they were then produced by a Malcolm McLaren-type character by the name of Kim Fowley (a much worse character than McLaren). From there three more girls joined the band including bassist Jackie Fox (14 years old), Lita Ford and Cherie Currie (both 17). So, they were all young, but reasonably proficient musicians.

The film was directed by Vicky Blue who replaced Jackie Fox after she quit, but lasted less than two years. She did a reasonably good job at directing, which was rough and ready, much like the band itself. Unfortunately though she chose to have music playing constantly throughout the whole film, basically with music in the left channel, and the interview audio in the right channel which got very annoying quickly.

The interviews with the band members were raw and delved deep into their past, with occasional breakdowns on camera as the members remembered some of the things that happened…or in Lita Fords case lots of cussin’ and bad attitude. The young bassist in particular survived some terrible things. In the years after the Runaways broke up the drummer had a very hard life and died in 2006 from cancer.

There were also interviews with Tim Fowley. This excerpt from Wikipedia gives you an idea of what he was like…

Kim Fowley, the band’s original manager, originally asked for $10,000 appearance fee in order to appear in the film, but eventually agreed to appear for free if he could sing his answers to questions, with a guitarist accompanying him. Vicki Blue agreed and this is how his appearance was originally shot. However, he then informed her that each of his answers was a song that would require a separate license. Fowley was shooting a segment for VH1 at about that time, so Blue sent her questions to the VH1 folks, who agreed to let her use their footage.

Yep, he was quite a manipulator, nutjob, and overall scumbag it appears. Lita Ford wanted to see him dead, which he did in 2015 from cancer, six years after this documentary was made.

It is a pity Joan Jett wanted no part in this, but she had her reasons. From Wikipedia:

“To me, the Runaways is my baby, so you have to understand my perspective. If there’s gonna be a Runaways movie, it should be about what we accomplished, the tours we did, the bands we played with, the people we inspired. I’m not gonna participate in a Jerry Springer fest, bottom line. With any band, you’re gonna have interpersonal conflicts, but if that’s what they thought the Runaways were about—about breaking a bass or putting on make-up—well, it’s very disappointing. Very, very disappointing. I wanted nothing to do with it because that’s not the band I was in. [The film] was a totally different take on what went down.”

I can’t really say I got into their music, which was pretty standard stuff. But they were reasonably big in the day (not superstars though), and were definitely big in Japan.

So it was a story of success completely over-shadowed by rock ‘n’ roll excess, abuse, and manipulation.

A biographical drama film was released in 2010 based on the Runaways story, and starred Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart. I will have to look out for that.

Date watched: May 13th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 34

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Looking through my DVDs I came across this and thought I would watch it again on a cold Sunday afternoon.

The first few minutes of the film was confusing. It basically whisked the main characters off to Africa from New York using a quick montage and narration. I actually thought at first that the DVD was scratched and the player skipped ahead a few minutes. But, after that the story got under way and things started making sense.

It was pretty much more of the same, with the usual witty jokes, some of which kids would not get at all. The plot was standard stuff, nothing original at all, these types of films rarely are, but it matters not as I am just here for the jokes.

The voice cast were all perfect, I thought they were all brilliant. Bernie Mac died the same year the film was released.

I have not seen Penguins of Madagascar yet, so I will check that out sometime.

Date watched: February 25th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 20

The Cable Guy

I was reminded of this film recently in a podcast I listen to called Movie Crush. I have seen this at least once before, but had forgotten a lot of it, so I went to a DVD rental place last night to get it out, along with some newer films.

This film came out in 1996, at a time when Jim was pretty much at the top of his nutty game. He received $20 million big ones to star in this, a new record at the time. A year earlier he was paid $10 million for Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Ben Stiller directed.

Compared to his earlier films, this one was a lot darker and at times pretty weird, probably too much so for some audiences. Rotten Tomatoes gives this a 53% rating which I think is a bit low as I enjoyed the mix of comedy with a stalker plot line.

Jim Carrey (Chris Farley was considered for the role) was what made the whole film work. There were some scenes which were obviously created by Jim, such as the nipple scene in the prison (which Carrey based on a scene in Midnight Cowboy).

Looking through Jimbo’s filmography I see that this is the last film he made before his films started to become a bit more sugar-coated. The next film he made was Liar Liar, and after that The Truman Show, both very different and not quite as good as far as I am concerned. But, has has made some memorable films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and I Love You Phillip Morris (I must watch that again too).

Bob Odenkirk had a small role with one line…

This is not the best film Jim has ever made, but I thought it was still a pretty good laugh.

Date watched: February 24th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 19

Colors

I remember this coming out, way back in 1988, and the thing I remember the most about it was the title song by Ice-T, a catchy song.

Back in the day this was a controversial film because of the subject matter. It is of course about gang violence and the cops trying to stop it. These days it seems quite tame as there are no extreme violence scenes where peoples heads are exploded by gunshots, or innocent bystanders are wasted by a psycho-drugged-up Crip or Blood gang member. It was more about the story back then, and great acting.

And the acting is probably the best thing about this film, both Robert Duvall and Sean Penn are both great. The supporting cast including Don Cheadle, María Conchita Alonso, and a one-scene one-line appearance by Jack Nance, are good but not as great (except Nance of course).

The producer hired actual gang members during filming to act as guardians, and two were apparently shot.

Dennis Hopper directed, his first film as director since Easy Rider. He shot many scenes in actual Blood or Crip areas using either Bloods or Crips as extras depending on where he was filming.

Sean Penn got a bit miffed at an extra taking photos of him without permission and gave him a good punching…33 days in prison for him.


The guy on the right in this image amused me. Not only did he look out of place in a Chicano gang, but he also basically took on this pose in almost every scene. A later scene kind of explained later on why he looked like this (he was drugged out of his mind), but it was weird nonetheless.

This is described as a “police procedural” on Wikipedia which it is I suppose, but not as procedural as those of the 1950’s. The story was pretty standard stuff actually. It followed Duvall and Penn who grudgingly become buddies, and together they set about finding out who blew a gang member away in a drive-by shooting (Don Cheadle did it!). It had all of the usual police, gang, love-interest, and car-chase tropes we expect from a police/gang story. But, I guess it portrayed the gang culture of the time well, but I wouldn’t really know.

I would not say this is an essential watch, not these days anyway, and if it wasn’t for Duvall’s and Penn’s acting skills, and Ice-T ‘s nice song, it would not rate as well.

Date watched: February 3rd
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 9

The Beguiled

This is a remake of an old Clint Eastwood film, but this is told from the perspective of the lady’s, not the soldier. And tops it is too, Sofia Coppola directs, Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst get beguiled and Colin Farrell is the soldier.

Date watched: 19th November
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 65

Clint’s version might be worth a watch too:

Groundhog Day

I felt like a bit of Bill Murray, so returned to this film which I probably last watched over 20 years ago.

It was pretty much as I remembered, the basic story anyway, I had just forgotten the details. It is an entertaining watch but the whole premise of the film does start getting a little tired towards the end. Bill is funny but quite subdued compared to other films.

For some reason the ending was not as I remembered. I thought it ended with his groundhog day finally finishing, and instead his love interest in the film starting hers. This is not how it ended, but apparently it was in the original script, so perhaps I read it then it somehow morphed in my mind as being the actual ending. The mind is a malleable and tricky thing.

Bill, who seems to be a bit difficult at times, had a falling out with director Harold Ramis, and the two never worked together again.

Not bad, not great, but worth a watch again.

Date watched: December 30th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 146

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest

This is a documentary about one of my all-time fave hip-hop acts, A Tribe Called Quest.

It is basically a history of the band, but towards the end looks at the falling out between Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, then looks at Phife’s diabetes problem.

There are plenty of interviews with the band members as well as other acts such as De La Soul, Beastie Boys, and a Jungle Brothers member. There is also a lot of archival footage, as well as footage from Rock the Bells concerts which they headlined. Hip-hop gigs don’t seem to be all that good to me, it just doesn’t seem to work as well live, but maybe you have to be there.

Phife Dawg’s story is a bit sad. He was addicted to sugar which lead to a kidney transplant with his wife donating one kidney, but it did not take well and he had to have another transplant in 2012, and he died last year due to complications with diabetes.

The film had some great graphics, especially in the opening sequence (same as in the poster below).

This is more for A Tribe Called Quest fans than anyone else, but it is well made and somewhat interesting.

Date watched: December 28th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 145