At only 15, Cherie Currie (Fanning) is overwhelmed when Joan Jett (Stewart) asks her to front her band The Runaways. With the encouragement of music promoter Kim Fowley (Shannon), Cherie becomes an iconic presence on stage and off, propelling the group into previously uncharted territory as female rockers. And while Joan and the other bandmates (Maeve, Taylor-Compton and Shawkat) take the lifestyle in their stride, Cherie is continually drawn back to her big sister (Keough) and absent parents (O'Neal and Cullen).
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This doesn't settle well with the studio that's paying $20 million for a man with sex-appeal; they don't want someone who resembles Santa Claus. If Willis doesn't shave and drop some weight, the studio will pull the plug on the movie and sue for damages. But Willis has been growing the beard for six months and wants to make an artistic statement. He's not going to be picking up a can of shaving cream anytime soon.
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Four years later, Outside magazine contributor Jon Krakauer documented McCandless' travels in his debut novel Into the Wild, which serves as a blueprint for Sean Penn's adaptation of McCandless' life. Look at me cross-eyed all you want but this tale of "a rebellious 1990s Thoreau" (as the press notes ponder he might be) brings out a buoyancy in director and terminal humbug Penn that's been absent in his filmography thus far. One might think Penn would be more apt to adapt Krakauer's recent Under the Banner of Heaven instead, but his direction in Wild is astute and brisk though not always as concise as one would hope.
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The generally limp script by Josh Friedman starts off smartly, setting us up for the bruising friendship between the stars, a couple of L.A. cops who also happen to be boxers and get paired up for a publicity-machine fight that touts them as "Mr. Fire and Mr. Ice." Ice is "Bucky" Bleichart (Josh Hartnett), a cool and low-key guy charitably described as a loser who gets his shot at a good chunk of change as well as reassignment to the LAPD's hotshot Warrants department for agreeing to the fight. Fire is Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart), one of those bigger-than-life cops who cuts corners with aplomb and seems happy enough to bring Bucky on as his partner after knocking his teeth out (literally) in the ring. Further binding the two men together, besides work and friendship, is Kay Lake (Scarlett Johansson), the sultry blonde dame on Lee's arm who takes a shine to Bleichart that doesn't seem to be entirely platonic.
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Based on an allegedly true event that was reported in the New Yorker, Casualties is a stripped-down tale of a small platoon of Army grunts who head into the jungle only to lose their humanity, a trope that has traveled from Conrad to Coppola to here. It's Satan in paradise, wreaking havoc and leaving unexplainable carnage behind.
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The feature directing debut of Dan Harris, the scriptwriting wunderkind behind X2 and a batch of upcoming superhero flicks (from Superman to The Fantastic Four), Imaginary Heroes is a breathtakingly assured piece of work. Notable are the shimmering cinematography and unusually nuanced performances from both veteran actors we tend to take for granted and several fresh, younger faces. It starts off with Matt Travis (Kip Pardue), a high school swimming legend who always hated swimming and so shoots himself in the head one night. Although we only really see him in retrospect, talked about in narration by his younger brother, Matt (Emile Hirsch), it's quickly obvious that Matt was the shining star of the family and so everything quickly goes to pot in his absence. The dad (Jeff Daniels) collapses into an unshaven, sullen drunk, and the sister (Michelle Williams) dashes back to the safe haven of college. Matt - the film's closest thing to a protagonist - buries everything deep, hiding all emotions from his best friend Kyle (Ryan Donowho) and girlfriend, breaking up with her after she keeps asking how he's feeling and why his body is covered in bruises.
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Heat is the instantly gripping tale of a large-scale heist leader and die-hard loner named Neil McCauley (De Niro). As the film opens, he and his team of brutal, precision thieves (including Val Kilmer and Tom Sizemore) knock over (literally) an armored car for a stash of bearer bonds. On the case is Detective Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino), a troubled, angst-ridden veteran of the LAPD. Over the course of the film, McCauley and Hanna develop a strange sort of kinship, even as McCauley's crimes increasingly raise the stakes and Hanna's efforts to stop him become more and more desperate.
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Why watch? Because despite its flaws, The Untouchables is a magnificent movie about political clout -- a worthy subject that Hollywood's rarely bothered to tackle and usually gets wrong. Clout isn't bribing a police chief with a briefcase full of hundred-dollar bills; it's making sure the police chief's son gets a cushy job at your concrete firm, thereby ensuring you're the low bidder on sidewalk contracts. Clout isn't hiring hit men to off your worst enemy and toss him in a ditch; it's buying drinks for a high school buddy who works at the county assessor's office who just happens to find so many structural problems with your enemy's grocery store that he's forced to close shop and leave town. Those aren't events in The Untouchables, but they echo the kind of emotional noise that David Mamet's script makes - it's a revenge fantasy for any person who wondered why they had to suck up to their alderman or local ward heeler just to get their trash picked up on time. Clout isn't muscle - it's clever muscle. And The Untouchables understands that cleverness.
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