Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Runaways

It only took about 15 minutes of film time for my internal voice to start screaming, "Oh, my God! Who let these kids DO this?!"

The Runaways is based on the autobiography of the group's lead singer, Cherie Currie, who wrote about joining a rock group comprised of all girls in the mid-70's. Teen girls - all the girls were 16 or younger when they first recorded. They actually produced some good music, and a future rock star: Joan Jett. But they had to play sleazy clubs to get there.

The movie is an absolutely brilliant, sometimes raw chronicle of Cherie's and Joan's trip in the band. From uncaring parents to a manager who was hell-bent on success and not on his prodigies' well-being, these kids were set up to crave success, perform and not look at the future too urgently. Meteoric success, followed by crash and burn, especially for Cherie, was actually their future.

The acting is superb, particularly Dakota Fanning as Cherie and Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett. Every reaction is recorded on those faces; you certainly understand their choices in reaction to what's happening to them. Excellent editing helps tell the tale of the band's success, particularly in Japan, where they discover, much to their surprise, that they're demi-gods.

The Runaways is hard to watch but fascinating. The success of the all-girl rock band paved the way for many more.

Thumb's up.

Cairo Time

When Juliette, in Cairo to meet with her husband only to find him unexpectedly delayed, wanders the streets, she finds scores of Egyptian men following her, sometimes inexplicably bumping into her or whispering things in her ear. It's odd that in modern times that an educated woman wouldn't realize that wandering around man-less in an Arab country without anything covering her hair, her bare shoulders, or, gasp, cleavage is just plain stupid. But it does set up her need for Tareq, an Egyptian who is a former coworker of her husband. They meet, and he squires her around the city.

This is a love affair, just as much between Juliette and Tareq as it is the film director, Ruba Nadda (also a woman), and Cairo. Much to our benefit. As Juliette begins to figure some things out about the city and its culture, you see her falling in love with Cairo, too. It doesn't hurt that those mysterious pyramids are just off in the distance, one of the seven wonders of the world.

Patricia Clarkson is no longer in her thirties, but she's still a beautiful woman. However, perhaps even prettier is Alexander Siddig, who plays Tareq. Even though there's little action throughout the movie, it's such a pleasure to watch these two - with that ultra-vibrant Cairo background - and wonder what's going to eventually happen. They are both such fine actors that we gain just from being in their company.

There's a betrayal of sorts, but to tell you any more would spoil Cairo Time.

Thumb's up.