Floria Sigismondi’s Runaway Movie

Floria Sigismondi’s Runaway Movie (photo)

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On the Paramount stage in Austin with Cherie Currie, Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, it was Floria Sigismondi who shined brightest, and it wasn’t just because of her sparkly black dress. Credited by Apparition chief Bob Berney for bringing them all together on this evening at SXSW, the filmmaker, photographer and visual artist who was born in Italy, raised in Hamilton, Ontario and traveled the world making otherworldly music videos for the likes of The White Stripes, Sigur Rós and Incubus settled down in Los Angeles and wasted no time in chronicling one of the area’s most legendary (and short-lived) rock acts, the ’70s all-grrrl group The Runaways, for her feature directorial debut.

Featuring Stewart and Fanning as Joan Jett and Currie, “The Runaways” may seem at first glance like the all-too-usual tale of a band that burned bright before burning out after just four years together, but Sigismondi is less concerned with the career trajectory of The Runaways than the emotional rollercoaster of the young, rebellious rockers who are patched together by the screwy impresario Kim Fowley (played by a particularly demented Michael Shannon). Although hits like “Cherry Bomb” are naturally cranked up, Sigismondi’s most inspired move is to dial things down to a slow simmer, lingering on long takes and filming in cramped quarters to convey the intimacy of the era. While at SXSW, Sigismondi took the time to talk about being patient in making her film debut and the film itself, as well as being pestered by the paparazzi and the pessimism of young people.

Did you have a connection with the Runaways growing up or did this seem like a good movie for you to direct?

Yeah, I had a connection in art college – I’m younger, so I didn’t experience [The Runaways] firsthand, but they were still playing them ten years later at a club that I used to go to work at actually as a beer bar girl through art college. For some reason, “Cherry Bomb” was a staple and I remember dancing to it. But [my representatives] gave me Cherie Currie’s book — it was a captivating story because of how young she was and everything that she had gone through, and Joan, being her first band and how that’s informed the rest of her career — it just felt like it was the right thing to do. They were at the forefront of something — I think they really put themselves out there and I admired that.

03202010_Runaways5.jpgFor you personally, was this a situation where the time was right to make a feature?

Yeah, I had been wanting to make a feature for a while, just nothing stuck and [“The Runaways”] happened like three months after I moved to Los Angeles, so it was okay, this is why I’m here. I took it as a sign. And after making a film you realize how many things can go wrong and when they come together, you know when it feels right.

Is it difficult to move from a medium of music videos where your story is in service of the music to features where the music is in service of the story?

I had a little bit of back and forth on that because I would get information from the Runaways’ songs and I’d use them to tell the story, like using “Love is Pain” near the end where it served the storyline there and then in the airplane going to Japan [where the band plays their first major concert], “I said I want you! I want this! I want that!”, the people were grabbing at them — it was all about wanting, so I did use the songs in that respect; I listened to them, listened to their words and these were young girls singing about their lives and that kind of was the first time I think there was music talking to people of their age. I found that in writing the script, the more I listened to the music, the more it actually inspired me to come up with scenes, maybe because I’ve done that in the past so often that it’s the trigger for creativity.

03202010_Runaways1.jpgIt was interesting how this film seemed to deal more with the creative process of the band than the decadence of fame and success that is standard of most rock-related movies, which most people probably have a good idea of in the case of the Runaways.

I think everybody does, too, especially today. My God, it’s so crazy. That part to me was sort of easy, you need one scene to say maybe when they arrive in Japan and for me, the most exciting part was how do they react to that fame, so I kept it kind of insular and made it about this little fight that happens backstage more than about how they end up signing autographs and becoming this thing, which we’ve seen a thousand times. Actually, in any kind of rock movie, there’s something about that, so I wanted to stay away from those kind of clichéd things and keep it about how does it affect them personally.

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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