Finally got around to watching The Runaways. It was all right… somewhat entertaining… directed by a music-video auteur (Floria Sigismondi, who did that apparently influential Marilyn Manson video “The Beautiful People” — which I do recall for some reason) and (so?) enlivened by random bursts of arty visual sequences that don’t really add up to much. Kristen Stewart was in my opinion simply bad as Joan Jett. Just felt like a miscasting. She does her best to be the tough working-class Philadelphia chick, but she’s too delicately refined and it doesn’t come off. Michael Shannon is entertaining, although I suspect way too benign, as the famously creepy/evil producer Kim Fowley, the Fagin/Svengali who put the band together.
I found the commentary track with Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning and Joan Jett very amusing. Stewart and Fanning seem properly awed by Jett and sort of babble on school-girlishly about their various acting choices. You have to feel for Stewart — must’ve been embarrassing to have to sit through the scenes in which she attempted to recreate Jett’s teenage years with the icon herself. My favorite exchange (I only watched for 20 minutes or so) was when Jett complained that she never in fact wore leather pants. Stewart had some convoluted justification about how it was important that the character always be dressed exactly the same way, to which Jett responded, in her almost Patty-or-Selma-Simpson-esque growl, “Yeah… but I could’ve always just been wearing jeans.”
Here’s the re-incarnation and the original:
Jett’s self-titled solo debut was released in Europe on May 17, 1980. In the US, after the album was rejected by 23 major labels, Jett and Laguna released it independently on their new Blackheart Records label, which they started with Laguna’s daughter’s college savings. Laguna remembers, “We couldn’t think of anything else to do, but print up records ourselves, and that’s how Blackheart Records started.”
I presume this means that Jett was one of the first women to helm her own record label. I’m also curious, given the enormous success of that album and the finances of the music industry in those days, whether she made a fortune from it. She was all of 22 years old when her post-Runaways solo album came out.