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The Runaways

By Musarrat Rahman

BEFORE Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, there was The Runaways. Joan Jett, Cherie Curie, Lita Ford, Sandy West and Jackie Fox five teenage girls from sunny California who went on to become one of the first all-girl rock n' roll bands. Modelling their personal styles after David Bowie, Suzy Quatro, Jeff Beck, Ritchie Blackmore and others, the girls were signed by Mercury Records but had a very short-lived career as The Runaways. Band members later went on to discover several bands like The Bangles, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and a few lesser-known ones.

Their biopic self titled The Runaways was released this year to rave reviews. The film was written and directed by Floria Sigismondi, who based the screenplay on the book Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway by lead vocalist Cherie Currie. Dakota Fanning plays Currie, Kristen Stewart plays rhythm guitarist and vocalist Joan Jett, and Michael Shannon plays record producer Kim Fowley. The film depicts the formation of the band in 1975 and focuses on the relationship between Currie and Jett until Currie's departure from the band.

The Film begins, obviously, with lots of teenage angst. We see Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) and Marie Currie (Riley Keough, Lisa Marie Presley's daughter) dealing with the fact that their mom (Tatum O'Neal) is moving to Indonesia with her new husband causing them to move in with their alcoholic father. We also see a young Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) learning how to play the guitar and walking out of her lesson after being told that women do not play rock n' roll. Eventually, Jett meets record exec Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) and sells him on her idea of a bad-ass all-girl band. He pairs her up with drummer Sandy West (Stella Maeve) and the band begins to come together. While looking for an edgy vocalist, Fowler spots a then-fifteen year old Curie at a nightclub and asks her to join because he liked her look.
Shannon, Fanning and Stewart all give excellent performances with Shannon portraying the sleazy, overbearing, blunt record-exec and Fanning portraying the scared, young fifteen-year-old Curie experiencing drugs and rock n' roll and trying to act beyond her years. Stewart finally has a chance to show off some of her very limited acting skills which are lost on Twilight, although some of her awkward Bella-ness shows through. Joan Jett is supposed to be badass! The problem with the movie? It focuses too much on Jett and Curie. Producers never even consulted most of the rest of the band! It's supposed to be a biopic of the Runaways, not of Jett and Curie's love affair.

The bands awesome original songs are featured in the movie as well as punk music from the 70's from Bowie, Gary Glitter and the Stooges. The movie is a must-see for everyone. It'll introduce you to The Runaways, their music and to some of the music of the 70's, which will hopefully tickle your musical taste buds and influence you to check out better music than metal. Go get the DVD immediately, for educational purposes.

Must watch TV: SKINS

By Tasnima Haque Orin

There are some TV shows that are so raw and engaging that no matter how much they exaggerate the subject, you still end up loving it. Forget Gossip Girl and (the new) 90210's melodrama: those are about blonde girls getting their way around guys and are played by 26 year old actors pretending to be 18. The world needed something more real than that stuff.

Enter Skins. This is one TV show that from the very start feels a bit different. It feels like it has soul. To start with, it did not have a big budget, big names or 35-year-old writers whose only connections with teenage life are the shows mentioned above. This show was literally written by 18 year olds who had gone through the things we see the characters go through.

That's why Skins becomes so likeable. It doesn't have the feel of a made up TV show. It feels real. Exaggerated it may be at some point. But that's okay, it's still a TV show.

Most of us haven't really heard of this show. For one thing, it's British; for another, it doesn't have any big names. And the only big names here are Nicolas Hoult, the boy some might remember from the movie “About A Boy”. Another is Dev Patel, but he was not famous before the 'Slumdog Millionaire' buzz.

As for the storyline, the whole series is made up of two generations. The first generation is the entourage of Tony Stonem (played brilliantly by Hoult). He is the savvy, smart guy, charming with girls and has everything that anyone wants in high school. Tony and his friends Sid, Jal, Michelle, Chris, Anwar, Maxxie, and Cassie are a part the coolest gang in the school, and you see how they all live the lives that are any parent's nightmare. Their experiences with alcohol, drugs and sex, and especially the last two; their woes, joy, dreams, desires will make you a part of the big gang. The complexity of their lives, how they want to live it, and how they end up living it is worsened by the dysfunctional adults around them, who will provide anything but support. Different episodes are named after different friends and opens up revealing their story. The actors never really feel like actors. The cast isn't made up of Hollywood blondes (not that I have anything against them, but I think humanity should!) and it shows. The actors pull off their roles nicely.

I should not tell too much here, because there are lots of twists and drama, and the two season finales are really TV masterpieces!

The second generation revolves around Tony's sister Effy and her gang tells us the story of their lives. The second generation could have been better. But it still has poetry written in the cinematography. The music is something really extraordinary. It is incredible in a sense that if you listen to it after watching the show, there'll be flashbacks. Trust me on this one!

There are moments when you'll be mad at Tony for being manipulative, at Cassie for being the way she is, and Sid for not standing up for himself. There will be moments too, when you'll think that the show is a bit clichéd. But then there comes the times when, despite everything, you'll end up loving it. That's life. No, that's teenage life for you.

Those who are wondering where you can get this show after my tremendously 'useful' review, well, in Bangladesh, you'll have to figure out a way to get the shows that will never be aired here. Wink wink! (Get a friend with good Internet speed!)

By Eshpelin Mishtak

IF Sergeant Soap MacTavish is your idol and Captain Price is your hero, then wait until you play Battlefield: Bad Company 2; for they are about to change positions.

Released last March, the start of the second tour of this series starts with an amazing display of beauty in the form of lofty mountains looming high against the bright blue sky as you sneak your way between snow-laden trees and out across a frozen river. No, the graphics aren't the only nice thing in this game. The game revolves around a daring group of humorous soldiers who take on blasted missions and give life to the approximately 12 hour of gaming frenzy it provides.

The stunning landscapes that DICE came up with are matched by the diverse and intriguing terrains in both rural and urban environments. The admirable sound design further enriches your sense of place, and each gunshot, footstep, and exclamation fuels your battlefield awareness and informs your tactical decisions.

But then again, one must also admit that the game has a few bugs; and yes, encountering three of them in a row is downright uncool.

The best part though is the game's destruction engine, which allows going over the limit with firepower, the scale of havoc that you can create by demolishing full buildings is impressive, and the best part about it is how your destructive power becomes a seamless part of your strategy.

Even though the squad based action calls for multiplayer playing, you would not mind playing solo because the battlefield companions are delightful peers whose banter is as witty and entertaining as you can wish. And yes, if you do go online for gaming, DICE's platform has no better opponent, take my word for it.

The campaign is a focused, largely linear adventure that takes you to a variety of gorgeous locations where you have to be sharp to defeat aggressive enemies who use destruction to their advantage unlike most other FPS games where destruction is just there for fun (remember shooting crabs in Warhead?).

The action of the game is challenging but not overly so, ensuring you have plenty of time to revel in the havoc you are causing.

Even though one might get angry at the amount of video clips that they have to go through before each mission, but they really make the day with wit and humor combined with something that you actually can see and understand rather than moving lines and maps.

Its entertaining adventures include some intense vehicle sequences. Driving through the countryside in full bloom of autumn provides eye candy and cannon fodder aplenty; backed by the fact that tanks have no heating up and neither any ammunition limit, it becomes too much fun blasting off distant houses and seeing them topple over stupidly.

One particular sniping section - where gunshots have to be fired under the cover of thunder and lightning - shows some ingenuity beyond the standard jack-in-the-box combat of bland cover shooting.

Another different side of the game is that the developers have not gone on to make everything look black in order to reduce the graphics detail, rather, all the textures look fine tuned and give you the feeling that you are actually sitting right beside Sergeant Samuel in your extravagant mission to rescue "The Black Weapon".

The end of this saga though is much cooler; where you have to jump out of a plane without parachute, shoot the villain midair with a handgun (heh, Gangla cinema?) and take the parachute from him in order to survive. Shortly after you come down and start to smoke, your boss arrives to inform you that you are to aid the U.S. Army in defense against the incoming Russian invasion that recently passed through Alaska and Canada, much to the squad's disappointment, and to the gamers' cheers.

Currently though, we are counting the time to the end of 2010 for the expansion pack that promises another few hours of fun in the Vietnam war. But then again, hunting down Russian Dmitri's in the suburbs of Alaska is something I would wait an eternity for.


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