John Linson

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The Runaways Review


Very Good
A fascinating exploration of the effects of fame on young people, this true story is sharply directed and acted. It's also great to see a film about girl power that's this realistic and resonant. And packed with such great songs.

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).

Continue reading: The Runaways Review

Lords Of Dogtown Review


Very Good
Catherine Hardwicke's Lords of Dogtown tells virtually the same story recounted by Stacy Peralta's 2001 documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, which autobiographically detailed his and his friends' teen years as pioneers of modern skateboard culture. Peralta, along with buddies Tony Alva and Jay Adams, were hardcore surfers from the grimy "Dogtown" of Venice, California, and with the help of some cutting-edge urethane wheels and legendary surfboard sculptor Skip Engblom - whose Zephyr store financed their original skate team, and bestowed them with the nickname "Z-Boys" - the brash trio became overnight icons for a new asphalt-grinding youth movement that championed experimentation and insolence in equal measures. Their rags-to-riches story is one in which triumph was achieved from go-for-broke rebelliousness, and thus stands as the complementary flip-side to Hardwicke's girls-gone-wild Thirteen, which illustrated the audacious and often-injurious lengths to which kids will go for attention, popularity and defiant thrills.

During the height of California's suffocating drought in the mid-1970s, quiet, long-haired Peralta (Elephant's John Robinson), cocky Alva (Raising Victor Vargas' Victor Rasuk), and self-destructive Adams (Emile Hirsch) began transferring their ocean-skimming techniques to the city's blacktop and empty swimming pools, resulting in an almost instantaneous phenomenon that thrust them onto the covers of magazines, into lucrative endorsement contracts, and onto the set of Charlie's Angels. Hardwicke's film (written by Peralta) presents this real-life tale with a mixture of exuberance and cautionary wariness, depicting the benefits (sex, money, fame) and pitfalls (jealousy, clashes over girls, obligations to their less-than-supportive parents) of these adolescents' sudden rise to superstardom. Thanks to Elliot Davis' bleached-out, nostalgically hazy cinematography (which mirrors the pulverizing propulsion of street skating by twirling, spinning and sticking low to the ground) and liberal use of thunderous '70s tunes by Hendrix and Sabbath, Hardwicke's period piece has a groovy, hard-charging dynamism. And as in her last film, the director - via Peralta and Adams' rivalry over Alva's sister Kathy (Nikki Reed) and Adams' difficulties at home with his irresponsible mom (Rebecca De Mornay) - laces such heady, sun-dappled optimism with an undercurrent of looming menace.

Continue reading: Lords Of Dogtown Review

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John Linson Movies

The Runaways Movie Review

The Runaways Movie Review

A fascinating exploration of the effects of fame on young people, this true story is...

Lords of Dogtown Movie Review

Lords of Dogtown Movie Review

Catherine Hardwicke's Lords of Dogtown tells virtually the same story recounted by Stacy Peralta's 2001...

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