Bad Reputation review – superficial glimpse into the life of Joan Jett | Documentary films

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Named after its subject’s biggest hit, this superficial documentary works hard to establish rock legend Joan Jett as a feminist pioneer, with music-video director Kevin Kerslake (REM, Nirvana, as well as Jett herself) loading emphasis on her girl-power credentials.

Which is not to suggest that she didn’t earn them – there’s a genealogy that runs from Joan Jett and the Runaways to the Riot Grrrl movement of the 1990s. Indeed, according to a talking-head interview with its lead singer, Kathleen Hanna, Jett played an instrumental role in the Girls to the Front success of Bikini Kill.

There are snatches of interesting background; the platonic love story between Jett and producer Kenny Laguna, for example, is described, bizarrely, by former Disney star Miley Cyrus; and the film also recalls Evil Stig, the charity album Jett recorded with the Gits in 1995 to help fund the investigation into the rape and murder of their lead singer, Mia Zapata. But Jett is evasive about her personal life and, in particular, her sexuality; Kerslake doesn’t push her. This unwillingness to divulge anything truly intimate, combined with the film’s jumbled chronology, gives the whole thing a thin, Wikipedia-ish feel. Jett says she wants to offer her fans “a primal release”. A pity, then, that this film about her is so repressed.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Bad Reputation review – superficial glimpse into the life of Joan Jett | Documentary films

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