Directed by Floria Sigismondi, this biopic about the pioneering girl-rock band is loaded with cliches—the raw beginnings, the rise to fame, the flameout as the members fall prey to drugs, celebrity, and egomania. But it also wades into the tangled gender politics surrounding the band, which assaulted the rock establishment with a sexuality as bold as any man's but was entirely manufactured by a cynical male manager named Kim Fowley. Onscreen, this contradiction is heightened by the fact that Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road
) steals his every scene as the aphorism-spouting Fowley while Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning often fade into the 70s wallpaper as guitarist Joan Jett and front woman Cherie Currie. Making her feature debut, Sigismondi conjures up a cheapo New World Pictures vibe that's utterly persuasive; the script is adapted from Currie's autobiography, which explains the extraneous story line about her unhappy home life.