Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Prey For Rock and Roll is a film based on a play written by Cheri Lovedog about her experiences as a female musician in the Los Angeles alternative music scene.  The film was released in 2003 and even though it played at several film festivals, it never got a widespread release.  The star of the film, Gina Gershon, went on tour with a backing band and released a DVD of that tour.  The film itself came out on DVD in 2004.  The only extra it features is a director's commentary which I wasn't that keen on - I would rather have had interviews/commentary from the cast or Cheri herself.

Gina Gershon (from Showgirls and Bound) plays the central character, Jackie, who's based on Cheri Lovedog.   Drea De Matteo (from The Sopranos) plays the bassist, Tracy and Lori Petty (from Tankgirl and Point Break) as the guitarist, Faith and Shelly Cole as the drummer, Sally.   Perhaps the strangest piece of casting is Marc Blucas (who played Riley in Buffy) as Sally's brother, Animal, an ex-convict covered in tattoos.  Although Gina Gershon did the vocals for the songs, the band on the soundtrack album featured Samantha Maloney from Hole, Gina Volpe from The Lunachicks and Cheri Lovedog herself.  Linda Perry also contributed a song and Stephen Trask who'd done the music for Hedwig and the Angry Inch helped to arrange the music for this movie.  Gina was also an executive producer on the movie and involved in casting some of the minor roles.  So on paper at least, this sounded like a great movie but sadly, it got somewhat fucked up in the execution.


The first time I saw this movie I lost interest about halfway through and I thought it sucked.  But the second time I saw it I actually got really into it and started appreciating its good points, which is not to say it's a great movie but I really don't think it's as bad as some people have said.  The film tells the story of Jackie and her band, Clam Dandy.  Jackie has just turned 40 and is wondering whether to turn her back on her dreams of being a rockstar after spending 20 years as a struggling musician.  The band are offered their big break in a couple of weeks time.  In that short space of time, the band have to deal with the aftermath of being an incest survivor, lesbianism, drug addiction, abusive boyfriends, rape, violent retribution and death.  That's a lot to get through in about 90 minutes.

I think that's the main problem with the movie and what really lets it down --- the storyline feels really melodramatic and to have to get through it all in a 90 minute movie makes it feel like it's just one thing after another and highlights some the implausibilities in the script (like how come Jackie had been in a band with Sally for years and didn't even know she had a brother let alone one who was in prison for murdering their stepfather?).  It's a shame because I think the script is mostly well-written with some great characterisation and some smart one-liners but a couple of the scenes do fall a bit flat because it feels like the writers are trying to force in as much drama and as many issues as possible.  The way the characters move on from discussing the most traumatic events possible to going about their everyday business seems hurried if not downright schizophrenic.  In order to deal with these kind of issues, I think they really needed a TV series to give them time to develop the characters and the aftermath of these events properly rather than trying to race through it all in 90 minutes.  I would like to have seen the original play by Cheri Lovedog to have seen if that worked any better.

Having said that, the main performances are all really good.  I thought Gina Gershon was brilliant --- really quick-witted and tough with a vulnerable side and she still looks stunning.  I thought their onstage performances looked pretty genuine so I do think it's a shame Gina couldn't have toured with an all-girl band.  I really loved the songs in the movie --- most of them were written by Cheri Lovedog.  There's a couple of songs by Texas Terri who makes a cameo performance doing a live gig.  They're mostly storming glam-punk numbers.  At first I wasn't too keen on Marc Blucas as Animal as I thought he still had his essential nice guy quality but when I thought about it, it did sort of make sense.  His character was essentially a decent guy who murdered his stepfather to defend his sister so although he looks like this tough ex-convict, he's not a hardened criminal or scumbag.  I never liked him in Buffy but I ended up quite fancying him in this --- it must have been the mix of nice guy and tattooed hard boy.  The more I think about the performances in the movie the more I like them although Faith and Sally are under-developed given their pivotal roles in the story.

Despite it's drawbacks, there's an amazing energy to the film and an authentic attempt to recreate the feel of the alternative lifestyle.  There's quite a positive message to the film but because by the end you've been put through the wringer, it kind of degrades the ending and makes it feel like a trite Movie of the Week cliche which is a great shame because this movie had a lot of potential.  But I still enjoyed the movie (especially the music) despite its failings and I think it's worth trying to see although I'd say it's more one to rent/watch at the cinema rather than shell out for the DVD.

You can still buy the DVD and soundtrack CD via Amazon. 

The official website has been taken down but there are still a few interviews with the cast around on the internet.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.