Dance-Movie Derby: Strictly Ballroom

1 10 2013

ImageTo resume the Derby, since I’m feeling blog rusty, I will talk to you about an Australian film by Baz Luhrmann, Strictly Ballroom.

I think this is a really great dance movie because it deals with a topic that is one of my favorites: authenticity. There’s a great dynamic reminiscent of Trilling’s work Sincerity and Authenticity, which, if you know me at all, you know I love.

Strictly Ballroom deals with artistic authenticity, personal authenticity, racial/cultural authenticity, and the courage to assert authenticity.

Scott Hastings is a talented competitive ballroom dancer, a young man with a bright future. He is the son of ballroom teacher Shirley and retired, reserved dancer, Doug. Though he is poised to be a champion, the actual championship has become less appealing….

One Two Three

Tombstone: Revelation of the Faustian and the Feminine

8 04 2011


Tombstone is in my opinion a great and beautiful homage to a romantic style of westerns that transcend the horror of killing people and the dirtiness of the frontier, while at the same time remaining brutal. So awesomely brutal.

How did they do this? With Wyatt Earp.

do continue

Westerns: Americanism and Where the Buffalo Once Roamed

8 07 2010

It seems like I keep coming up with these long-winded series of posts about this or that. This is no exception. I love Westerns so much that I’m going to write so many posts about them you’ll want to hang me high.

My Dad really loved Westerns and I actually used to seriously dislike them. But I remember when I was about 13 I saw Unforgiven. That movie changed some things for me.

That also seeded my deep affection for Clint Eastwood, but you’ll see such sentiment arise in the posts to come.

Move along, Partner

Dance-Movie Derby: Dirty Dancing

29 05 2010

As I have said, I have a deep affinity for dance movies. I believe that it’s important to apply the skills of criticism and analysis to the things we love, rather than trying to mold our love around the criticism of others who are unceremoniously in charge of what is “good” and what is “art.” You can’t cement good or art. You can only discuss success and failure of intent.

To begin the Derby I want to examine what I consider to be one of the best dance movies of all time. I would also argue that it’s a very successful film in that it achieves what it sets out to achieve, handles problems, avoids extreme pitfalls, and is more complex than people give it credit for being.

Dirty Dancing depicts a meaningful relationship between two people separated by culture and socio-economic status. So, when you throw dance in as the medium through which they can connect, you have a classic dance movie. What is especially unique about Dirty Dancing is that the dancing is not just an arbitrary bridge, but rather a physical foundation for the characters to find themselves.

Time of your life this way

Dance-Movie Derby: An Introduction

27 04 2010

Johnny and the staff kids showing Kellerman’s what’s up.

I really love Dance Movies.

They’re corny and cliche, yet often transcend their faults and return somehow into the realm of awesome. I want to share the analysis and pleasure of Dance Movies with you.

I would prefer to do things chronologically from what I consider the “origin” of this specific type of film, but I am going to first begin by dealing with my favorite and the most –in my opinion– ultimate example of this genre: Dirty Dancing.

I will do Flashdance and Footloose later. I will not do Saturday Night Fever. The reason is that 1) Barry Gib sucks, and 2) John Travolta’s character is a douche. The main character of a good dance movie cannot be a douche.

To begin with I want to make a few stipulations for Films to fall into this category:

You suck so hard my floor is clean.

1. There can be no singing. Musicals are a totally different entity.

2. There must be socio-economic or social/cultural issues at stake; either as barriers or context.  Subculture clashing with systemic normality is preferred.

3. There must be totally kick-ass dancing beyond traditional dance style. In other words, the dance featured that helps the characters triumph over adversity must have sass and “A little som’in’ som’in’ on the end.” (Drumline is the bastard child of Dance Movies. I love Bastards.) This is where the lower-class or subculture influence shines.

For instance: The Company is not a dance movie because there is only formal ballet  and no actual conflict of any kind. (That movie sucks.)

So, this is my approach. Dance Movies are awesome. But don’t take my word for it: Go watch some. Your favorites? Discuss them seriously, you might be surprised at what you find.


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