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Edgeplay: A Film About The Runaways 2004
Description: "EDGEPLAY: A movie about The Runaways" chronicles the rise and disintegration of the seminal '70's all-teenage-girl rock band The Runaways, whose members included then-unknown future rock stars Lita Ford and Joan Jett. The movie explores the results of verbal, emotional and psychological abuse on women too young to drink, but old enough for sex, drugs and rock n' roll. Written by Sacred Dogs Entertainment
Released: 07 Oct 2004 Director: Victory Tischler-Blue Writers: Victory Tischler-Blue Actors: Kari Krome, Kim Fowley, Suzi Quatro, Sandy West Genres: Documentary, Music
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See Making of The Runaways Starrin on youtube.

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Edgeplay: A Film About The Runaways Reviews:

Edgeplay is a documentary. It is a movie that "documents" the stories and life experiences of 6 women, who were once 6 young women named The Runaways. What Edgeplay is not, is other in a seemingly unlimited string of rock biog's, in which aging rockers wax nostalgic about their first gold record, or their sexual escapades. It is not a typical, unimaginative E! channel collection of interviews with worshipful and obsequious narration, constantly reminding you of the legendary status of the subjects, just in situation you didn't know. Apparently, over the years, with the mounds of praise heaped over newest entries like Metallica - Some Type Of Creature and Ramones - End Of The Century, the art of documentary seems to have been reduced to :Point a DV camera at a musician in a chair and ask him questions, present scans of nostaligic photos, and mission a DV camera at a talking head or critic and let them to explain why the artist in study is brilliant. The trouble with this tired approach is not only Deja Vu to the nth degree after seeing essentially the same movie over and over, but at least to me, an exasperating need on the part of the film-makers to take you by the hand, and lead you like a kid to the conclusion they would like you to draw, ala Oliver Stone.Victory Tischler-Blue seems to have seen as many of these as we have, and decided, luckily for us, that the simple method was the wrong method to say this often dark and disturbing tale. Admittedly, a static camera and an interesting anecdote can be informative, even absorbing, if the storyline and the storyteller are good, but there comes a time when you begin to ask yourself; "Is this it?" Is this all that can be done with the documentary medium? Directors normally utilize melody as a software to influence mood in their films, and in the greatest of examples, it's a tried and real approach. However in Edgeplay, that role is largely taken over by the camera. When Cherrie Currie, starts to relate a particularly sordid tale, the movie starts to go faded and jumpy, not unlike the deadly video featured in Hideo Nakata's "Ringu" or the dream sequence in Friedken's "The Exorcist". A short, sudden jumble of nightmarish photos and fast edits creates a palpable sense of unease - a sense that the movie is trying to say us something more - sending out a message in a bottle - a visual metaphor that parallels the storyline as surely and effectively as the pulsing ostinato in "Jaws". There's a persistent sense of haunting running through some of the scenes that I found impossible to shake-off for hours after I'd seen it.A nice deal of the darkness in Edgeplay derives from the evident bitterness of Cherrie Currie and Sandy West, the two members who arguably suffered the most from their experiences in the band, and seem unable to receive past it, continuing to keep grudges (some certainly understandable), and harbor feelings of loss and betrayal almost 30 years later. The final segment of the movie focuses on drummer Sandy, who takes you on a very rough adventure through her post-Runaways life, in a very short scene, that nonetheless seems to go on forever. The director's camera is merciless in starkly lit close-up, each haggard line in a face that has seen too much, speaks more loudly than any narration or musical cue ever could. Tischler-blue puts us into a stare-down with West that most of us will lose. The pain and regret in her clear eyes is unforgettable. But there is hope as well. For each tragic heroine and/or victim in Edgeplay, there is also a survivor. There is the unflappable Lita Ford, who not only went on to become the rock star she wanted to be, but seems to remain largely unperturbed by her memories of her time in the band. There is Jackie Fox (Fuchs) who, rather than wallow in self-pity from her negative experience in the melody business, ended-up an entertainment lawyer, representing artists and musicians. If that isn't sweet revenge, I don't know what is. And then of course there's Vicki Blue, Director of the film, who after leaving the band, decided to follow her muse into film-making. The hope lies in the sureness of the lessons learned, by Ms. Tischler-Blue, Ms. Fuchs and Ms. Ford that refusal to remain a victim, can render the creatures of our youth toothless.It would have been great to have heard from Joan Jett, who doesn't appear in the movie except for archival footage, yet her presence, oddly enough is felt just the same. What makes Edgeplay such a disturbing and yet satisfying experience, is it's utter refusal to say you how you could be feeling about anything. It very smartly assumes you can decide for yourself who the heroes and villains are, and it does so in such a special and refreshingly cinematic way, that it makes most of the rock biographies on the video shelf seem like cheap, generic DVD extras in comparison. Edgeplay can be dark and ominous, exciting and hilariously funny, edgy yet thoughtful, but it is never pedestrian, and never boring. It is a kind-of aerial photograph of the lives of 6 very talented, very complex women, taken from such a height, that we can see where there different paths all went, in a method that is shockingly easy - and yet, isn't hindsight always?


The best strength of this very good-but-flawed documentary is honesty. Four of the five members of the most popular ver of the group (excluding Joan Jett) deliever extensive on-camera interviews, as does replacement bassist Vicki Blue (also the director), and they are mostly no holds barred. Instigator/original manager Kim Fowley also appears for guarded but unvarnished commentary. The original Runaways are all interviewed separately, and every provides her reminiscences. It is quite clear from the interviews that all the the original members look back at both the another members and the overall experience with a mixture of ambivalence, bitterness, and regret. Taken as a whole, their reminiscences deliever a Roshoman-like perspective from which a net truth can be pieced. This is as close to that truth as we have gotten, and much closer than we receive in the more newest bigger budget Runaways movie.To anyone interested in the Runaways story, or interested in the sordid machinations behind the Svengali fueled star-making machinery of the melody business, this will be engrossing and will be essential viewing.That said, this documentary falls a bit short of great, due in varying degrees to a paucity of archival material, Joan Jett's failure to participate, and a somewhat too narrow, too inside approach to the story.OK, let's take those three points one at a time: 1) Limitations on the archival source material. Joan Jett declined to participate. As a result, vintage Runaways songs co-written by Jett were not accessible either for the soundtrack, or for video. Therefore, for example, footage of the Runaways performing is limited to two cover songs. The soundtrack is populated mostly by Lita Ford (solo) and Suzi Quatro songs. Perhaps more significant is the absence of vintage footage of the Runaways at press conferences, in TV interviews, etc. The contrast between the middle aged girls the Runaways have become and these girls as teenagers would have added tremendously to the film.2) Joan Jett's lack of participation. As noted, this resulted in the lack of vintage performance materials. But it also means we are not treated to Jett's perspective on the days of the Runaways. Surprisingly, this is a relatively modest loss. The interviews with the another former members are (seemingly) honest enough that they paint a cute finished picture. One doesn't now sense that her lack of interview participation leaves as huge a hole as might be expected.3) A too narrow, too inside approach. The movie takes as almost a given that the viewer is invested in the Runaways as cultural icons, and that there is tiny need to investigate their zone in the development of pop music. While that's OK for die hards, it unnecessarily limits the appeal of this film. Where is the essential commentary contemporaries of The Runaways--from artists with whom they toured or co-mingled, such as The Ramones, Cheap Trick, Blondie, etc? Where is the back storyline on the girls, which might explain how 14 year old women were hanging out at nightclubs by themselves, accessible to be exploited? The meat of this film would everytime be the interviews with the girls themselves, of course, but framing is critical to create something more universal.Despite these limitations, if you have an interest in The Runaways, the movie still packages a punch.Compared to the slick, bigger budget Runaways docudrama (which was produced with Joan Jett's participation, and which reflects a mostly Jett-centric view, and an almost entirely Jett Currie focus), this is most certainly the deeper film.That said, the sad thing is that this documentary includes the outline of a GREAT docudrama: Young, naive women with doe-eyed dreams taken in by a predatory Svengali, used, abused and discarded, with the most fulfilling part of the storyline how they ultimately dealt with the collapse of those early promises. There's plenty of sex, drugs, and rock and roll to spice it all up, of course. But I think that's the far less interesting story. Too terrible that's the storyline that, for the most part, the large budget Runaways movie chose to feature. Contrasting how the various members of the group dealt with the collapse of the Runaways offers a wonderful mix of success, failure, reinvention, the triumph of tenacity, and tragedy of being unable to reconcile childhood dreams with adult realities, specifically: Jackie Fox, the smartest one (and the one who would everytime have the most options accessible to her), drops out of the group first, goes off the grid, finds herself, goes back to college, Harvard law, and becomes a successful attorney.Vicki Blue, replacement bassist, leaves and becomes a successful video auteur.Joan Jett and Lita Ford: Prospects outside the melody globe might have been minimal, but they were driven and lucky, and ultimately found legitimate success in melody on their own terms.Cheri Currie: Directionless but benign woman has her innocence and childhood evaporate as she becomes the sexed up jail-bait singer for The Runaways. She buys into the photo and lifestyle, but finally quits in disgust, eventually finding a certain peace in a modest (figuratively) just outside of Hollywood existence.Sandy West: Fox had the brains, Blue the artistic and private perspective, Jett and Ford had the musical talent and drive and Currie was scrappy enough to search her way. West just wanted to enjoy drums. When that went south, her life trajectory was one of deepening decent into darkness: drug dealing, jail, etc. Her interview for this movie reveals that nearly a quarter of century later, she still wondered "what happened?" and was waiting for that Runaways reunion that would never come. (West died a couple of years after this movie was completed).If you've seen The Runaways movie, and you're interested in further back story, this documentary is a must. The Runaways is adequate entertainment. But there's a lot more heart in this film.


I don't even know where to start. I've watched Edgeplay three times in the several days since I got it, and still feel as if I am seeing new, dusty corners in a room I grew-up in.If you are looking for other typical, VH-1 styled look at the fun and excesses of a dysfunctional rock band, this complex movie may disappoint you. Edgeplay is not a movie intended to excite, gawk, or fawn over it's subjects, and I tell topics rather than "subject" intentionally, as it's a movie about people, not about the rock 'n roll lifestyle. There is no whimsy for the joyful free-sex and drugs of the 70's, or any fan-boy enthusiasm for The Runaways as a band.What there is, is an insightful and compassionate look at a tragic and yet stoic group of young women, who made history, without ever receiving any praise, who made nice melody without ever selling many records, and who paid dearly in many methods for their actually legendary status, with a nice part of their childhoods.Edgeplay is a documentary about the all-girl hard-rock band The Runaways, who so much like their tour-mates The Ramones, set the next two decades on fire, without getting any of the credit or rewards.Victory Tischler-Blue, the director, writer and conscience of Edgeplay, endured a 6-year trial-by-fire getting this movie made and released,(and is a storyline as compelling as any in her movie), and I think much of the raw honesty and poignancy in this movie is in some methods a direct effect of that struggle.There is an almost Dickensian cast of characters: A young, Joan Jett-Talented and driven, yet shy and unsure of herself, Cherie Currie-A striking blonde, who never expected to be a singer, and yet, much like Lana Turner sitting at a soda fountain, was selected to be one, Kim Fowley-A slimy Svengali who unashamedly preyed on very, young women to create himself rich, and makes no apology, Sandy West-A tomboyish, young drummer who simply loved testing her drums, and wanted no more than to spend her life doing it, Jackie Fox-A doe-eyed bassist who found out earlier than the others that stardom should be an empty trophy cup, Lita Ford-Fiesty, tough, and driven, and Vicky Blue-The bassist who walked into this dysfunctional family in the midst of meltdown, and yet stayed on the outside enough, and more importantly, grew-up enough to create this wonderful film.I think Miss Blue, ex-band member and director of Edgeplay, knew something that Margaret Mitchell, creator of Gone With The Wind knew. Mrs. Mitchell once told about the theme of her novel, " I often wondered why some folks should rise above nice adversity, while others, just as brave and smart, go under. All I know is that my daddy named that quality "gumption". I wanted to write about folks that had gumption, and those who didn't". Well whether intentional or not (though I expect it was), that is exactly what Miss Tischler-blue has done here.As most will know, Lita Ford and Joan Jett managed to escape the musical ghetto that was The Runaways, to search nice success in the melody business. The original bassist is actually a successful attorney. Cheri Currie, although never achieving the same lvl of success, managed to search work in Hollywood for many years, and has continued with a low-profile melody and art career. Sandy West, however was plagued with misfortune after her band dissolved, falling into desperately difficult times, both financially, and otherwise, and much of this is explored unflinchingly in Edgeplay.This movie works on so many lvls that I sometimes am awed by it. When you watch it the first time, you see and hear the storyline of a rock band. When you watch it a second time however, you start to become absorbed by the enormous differences in these women. All but one of the members, actually in middle-age and 25 years away from The Runaways, still carry deep emotional scars from their experiences, that seem to transcend anything that has happened to them since. All but one of them breaks down on camera in a method that's agonizing to watch. Is it really possible to carry resentment from teen-aged slights and squabbles into middle age? Once the girls begin talking to Miss Blue's camera, you search out that you can indeed.The only one who does not seem affected by her experiences so long ago is Lita Ford, who I found, quite unexpectedly, the most fascinating of all. After 4 decades or so of life, I like to think I know false bravado when I see it, and yet in Lita I saw none. It's nice to watch her face as she walks back over the same old paths as the others while recounting her experiences, and yet, to her, it was almost like describing a film she had seen, and enjoyed, but should only partially remember; not because it wasn't exciting, but because, well....it was only a movie. Lita ends-up being Edgeplay's Scarlett O'Hara. The one who had gumption.Of course Joan Jett became a star as well, but we'll never know her thoughts and feelings on things, as she declined to participate in the film. As I understand it, she was violently opposed to the film, it apparently not focusing enough on her, and did everything in her power to crush the movie before it should be released. This is utterly mystifying, as her treatment in the movie is essentially positive.Edgeplay is, in many ways, the "Clockwork Orange" of rock documentaries. From the dark, sardonic tales of excess and loss-of-innocence, to the startlingly effective and moody camera-work, (which usually annoys me, but here served a true dramatic purpose for a change), this is a movie that anyone can receive something out of, whether you're a Runaways fanatic or not.



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