October 2, 2012
Two TV sets, two Cadillac cars
Are the early scenes always the best in rock'n'roll films? More so than ever in The Runaways (2010): the creation of ideas/images/names/roles, as though it's a superhero origins story. The invention of Cherie Currie, the invention of Joan Jett, the already existing and seemingly eternal weirdness of Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon). Dakota Fanning is Currie, Kristen Stewart is Jett; the jaded teenage riots in Los Angeles early on -- Rodney Bingenheimer and all that -- are like the descriptions of rock'n'roll debauchery in accounts of mid-70s Bowie and Led Zeppelin tours, the golden age of teenage delinquency (true here, false in Almost Famous). There's a bit in Nick Kent's memoir, at a Bowie show in Detroit, and this looks how that read. Then they become a band: the Runaways story, on film at least, is all beginning and all ending, no middle. But those early stages, when they were fans first and a band second, and Currie does a school talent quest as David Bowie, a girl being a boy being a girl. That was the 1970s.