It’s been ten years since we saw “Twilight” (2008) cast-mates Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning graze the screen in the music biopic “The Runaways.” While the Floria Sigismondi written/directed film has its fair share of follies, by the end it’s worthy of a collective fist to the air, celebrating - at the very least- the spotlight on these talented women and the impact they had on the rock and roll world. At a time when bands entirely made up of women weren’t a prevalent nor seemingly lucrative notion, The Runaways was formed, primarily because of the persistent ambition of Joan Jett (Stewart) and her collaboration with Kim Fowley (played with an on-spot eccentricity here by Michael Shannon). Soon they bring in Cherie Currie (Fanning) to be the lead singer, along with Sandy West (Stella Maeve), Lita Ford (Scout Taylor-Compton) and Robin (Alia Shawkat). Then we’ve got the pop-punk legendary group: The Runaways.
ove is messy. Life is even messier. Sometimes the hurt is too much. There are moments, after watching this film, where I wonder, would I want to forget? Would you? It would sure be easier. Or is it? In the case of Joel and Clementine, in the "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004) nothing is simple, everything is messy, but ultimately (despite its surreal- dream-like sequences) it is also an honest appraisal of love in its many forms.
It is sadly not an uncommon story. Especially in the United States. “Unarmed Black Man Killed by Police.” Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. Philandro Castile. Michael Brown. Ryan Coogler’s directorial debut, “Fruitvale Station” (2013) took an intimate look at the life and murder of one young man named Oscar Grant III. The film starts with actual cell phone footage from the train platform minutes into the new year. You see the bystanders calling out police for accosting a group of men, Grant among them. There’s a scuffle. And a bang.
We all know the rules, and instructions can be important: No water, no bright lights, and no eating after midnight (though, when does that one- end?). If you break these very important details, you’ll take an adorable fuzzy creature and trade it with a hellion set to ensue chaos and eat everything in sight. Of course, I’m talking about “Gremlins." (1984)
This is a straight-forward feel good film that encourages you to root for the underdog. Christian Bale is so appealing as a quirky mechanic and WW2 vet who has perhaps a touch of PTSD which occasionally leads him to unacceptable social interaction. Matt Damon has his best role in years as Bale’s sometime employer and friend who shares his passion for auto racing. Together they take up the challenge of winning Le Mans from the powerful Ferrari company, but must contend with various egos at Ford Motors to realize their dream.
“Take this Waltz” (2011) has the main character’s story undone slowly, with a meditative and varied look on relationships. There is a lot of restraint with the film, and its patience is where it flourishes, because it allows a deeper engagement with the subjects and the questions that it creates. Margot (Michelle Williams) and Lou Seth Rogan are a married couple, distant at times, but with their own cute comforts and familiarities. There’s a sadness to Margot even though their life seems to be good. They are both writers, him a cook crafting a chicken recipe book, and her a writer of pamphlets for tourist locations.
Anne Rice’s debut novel, “Interview with the Vampire” was published in 1976 and was somewhat controversial at the time for its openly erotic depiction of the undead. Two years later, “Dracula” would open on Broadway with first Frank Langella and then Raul Julia as the Count with obvious sex appeal. The book would take nearly two decades to be adapted to the screen but by that time, Rice had paved the way for vampires to be portrayed with animal magnetism such that Bela Lugosi would never have gotten away with in the 1930’s. Brad Pitt plays Louis as a mournful sympathetic vampire, regretful of his lost humanity and the loss of human life he is directly responsible for. His desire to unburden his conscience sets up the interview of the film’s title as he tells his life story to Christian Slater. Director Neil Jordan deliberately shows Pitt as androgynous with long hair, perfect skin and full lips. It is no surprise that the vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise) desires him or that other vampires will want to possess him as well
The fact that writer-director Ana Lily Armipour’s genre-hopping A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014) ranks so highly in ITOL’s top 50 films by women of the decade list is a testament to its originality, cult appeal, and fang-sharp social commentary. Billed as an Iranian Vampire Western, and set in the fictional Bad City, it nods to a myriad of influences from classic horror and film noir, to Tarantino, comic books and David Lynch- clanking industrial images and sounds loom large and fever-dream music-sequences are woven throughout.