Along with movies, rock-n-roll is one of America’s greatest exports. So this summer, let’s celebrate two of the best rock-roll-movies.
Before she showed us The Kids Are Alright, Lisa Cholodenko wrote and directed Laurel Canyon, a great rock movie with one of the best parts written for an actress. Christian Bale plays Sam, an uptight doctor who has moved back home to Los Angeles from the East Coast with his fiancee, Alex (played by Kate Beckinsdale). Sam lets Alex know before they move back home they will be staying only a couple of days with his weird mom, Jane (Frances McDormand) in her Laurel Canyon home. Turns out Jane is one pretty cool chick– she is a successful record producer with a home studio recording a new album with a band fronted by Ian (Alessandro Nivola), her younger love-of-the-moment.
Fun, rock-and-roll mayhem, and debauchery ensue and Sam is non to pleased that his fiancee is suddenly enamored of his mom’s lifestyle over her medical studies.
Jane is a fun and interesting part and Ms. McDormand runs with it. If you love film and music check it out, but if you want a film more grounded in actual rock history, you will have to watch The Runaways.
When you see the drop of menstruation blood in the opening shot, you should know The Runaways directed by Floria Sigismondi, will be a different kind of rock movie. From (Dakota Fanning) Cherie Currie’s Ziggy Stardust-like performance antics to the phoenix-like re-birth of Joan Jett (Kristin Stewart) after the Runaways disband, The Runaways is in the “rock-n-roll movie hall of fame”.
Director Sigismondi cut her teeth as a photographer then became a music video director for Marilyn Manson, The White Stripes, Interpol and David Bowie, among others. Her music video background and insider status influences the movie’s electric glam rock performances and she deftly documents how manager Kim Fowley (an excellent Michael Shannon) and the whims of the music industry shaped The Runaways. The film depicts how the women in the band, especially Jett, eventually railed against the industry’s expectations for women in rock, (in one scene, a teacher has the balls to say “girls don’t play electric guitars”) earning their place in rock history. The casting of Kristin Stewart as Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie is brilliant.
Laurel Canyon can be watched right now on Amazon Instant Video and iTunes. The Runaways can be watched on Crackle and iTunes.
– M.A ST JOHN (@theReelScoop)