Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Runaways, Atonement + Spirit of the Beehive

The Runaways. I'm pretty critical on films about rock bands or rock music. I just can't tolerate all the mistakes in story, tone and detail errors these kinds of films continuously have. Very rarely do I see a rock music related film where I think the subject matter and the music were captured correctly. Control, a 2007 English film about Joy Division from director Anton Corbijn is an example of a film I loved that got everything right. The Runaways is another of the long-list of rock n roll movies that irritate much more than they satisfy me. Something that I couldn't overlook for the entire film is just how little to do with the story Lita Ford was given. I guess she didn't sell her life rights to the producers so her participation in the band (and movie) was miniscule. I could not let her invisibility go. 
The Runaways were an all-girl teenage rock band that played in the 1970s.  Kristen Stewart actually does a surprisingly good job playing the young Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning takes on singer Cherie Currie [check out the awesome poster I dug up online].  As mentioned, there is virtually no Lita Ford in this film version of The Runaways. I liked some of the early scenes of the band learning how to play, write songs and go on tour, but by the end it's devolved into an after-school special about the dangers of too many drugs and too much rock n roll lifestyle. That's original. The Runaways is just another Hollywood misfire in the world of rock music. It did make me get out Joan Jett's first two records and re-listen to them so that's something. 

Atonement. In preparation for a Tulsa City-County Library panel event I was a speaker on, I read Ian McEwan's novel Atonement and watched the film version. As usual, book defeats movie. There's really no comparing the two worlds as the novel is such an intimate experience. The movie is just a watered down taste of what the world McEwan creates on the written page. When I saw Atonement in 2007, it never quite felt right to me in tone. After this avalanche of it in my life and thoughts--it still doesn't. I just can't buy the entire Briony escapade by what we get delivered to us on the screen. In the novel, yes, but not the film version. The book makes it clear to me that there's too much WW2 stuff and not enough of the early portion of the story, but I imagine that was what helped get the film funded and director Joe Wright gets to show-off with an epic long-shot on the beaches that deliver the madness of war. That particular shot, while impressive, is actually rather distracting. I spent the entire time wondering when it was going to end rather than pay attention to what Wright was trying to film. Go with the novel. 

Spirit of the Beehive.  I have to admit, I'm including this 1973 Spanish film Spirit of the Beehive because I absolutely love this poster. Amazing! The film itself is slow, dreamy, plotless, haunting, contemplative and open-ended. If this makes it sound like a foreign film that's because it reeks of its European heritage. The story is about a girl whose family is fractured and after she watches James Whale's 1931 film Frankenstein, she loses herself more and more to the inner world of a child. You have to be in the right kind of mood to watch Spirit of the Beehive, but if you stay with it long enough, it will reward you. What can be enjoyed year round though is that poster on the left. There's something about a hexagon that I'm really drawn to. I love hexagons! 


the hidden staircase said...

i saw a lithographic company's van yesterday that had a full-on hexagonal logo. i would not have noticed it except for reading your post! it is a cool poster...

also, never was tempted to see the runaways. glad you cemented that for me. i need to go straight to jj's music as well...she rocks!

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

Well, Joan's dispute with Lita regarding $$$ is one of the key reasons that Lita gets no credit in the film. I'm no huge Lita Ford fan, but she's pretty much invisible in the movie and that just ain't right!

Hexagons rule! Ha.

Cinerobota said...

I definitely was not in the right kind of mood when I tried to watch Spirit of the Beehive! The poster just might be the most exciting aspect of the movie!

Joshua Blevins Peck said...