One of the best dance sequences in all of Hollywood musical history.
The Coen Brothers’ take on True Grit (2010) made me wish I could order up some closed captioning in the movie theatre and Darren Aronofsky’s The Black Swan (2010) had me drumming with ecstasy over the cinematographic representation of dance. The majority of the shots of Natalie Portman’s dancing is over her upper body. There are only a handful of long shots where she and other dancers are in the middle of the frame and the audience get’s to see her entire body move through space as a dancer. And yet, those upper body shots so depict with precision the frenzied and sometimes disorienting act of dancing.
True Grit I enjoyed, especially Matt Damon‘s performance, but there were a few scenes that prompted the inner voice to wonder why ten to twenty seconds weren’t cut here and there. I’ve seen a number of Darren Aronofsky’s films and The Black Swan is consistent with his artistic and thematic tendencies. Jose Teodoro of Film Comment ponders about the film much better than I ever could, so get thee to the aforembedded link.
I really like what he articulates in the third paragraph:
Like The Wrestler, Black Swan is grounded in athleticism, studies the limits of the body, and considers the ways it inevitably betrays us. It takes pains to render almost palpable the sensation of flesh and bone being pushed and punished.
Click here for information on the camera(s) used for The Black Swan.
Wail. Today is Justin Timberlake’s 27th birthday—and mine was on Tuesday. Ha! Oui. I take pride in being forty-eight hours older.
I know the following assessment of How She Move (filmed in Canada) is not as thorough as I indicated it would be, but if i waited until my corporeality stopped misbehaving and acquiesced to the will of the mental facilities, it could be three weeks before this entry is posted. Alors, I decided to just go with what is below. Et encore. Ne personne me dit qu’il/elle voudrait les autre choses.
Goal-oriented Raya (Rutina Wesley) has to move back to the projects and attend public school after the death of her sister Pam (who had squandered away Raya’s tuition money on drugs). Raya has one week to prepare for an exam that will determine if she can obtain a scholarship to go back to Seaton Academy. Her schedule becomes significantly busier after she starts hanging out and stepping with her childhood friend Bishop (Dwain Murphy) and his crew. Narrative conflict consists of convincing and proving to Bishop she is good enough and serious about being a part of his crew (to win the big bucks at the annual Step Monster competition) as well as dealing with personality issues with Michelle (Tre Armstrong), another friend from the neighborhood.
I was right. It isn’t fair to compare How She Move with Stomp the Yard. Both films utilize stepping ways to fuel the conflict in the plot and for the protagonists to reclaim an amount of control over their lives, but the details aren’t the same. For Raya, stepping is the means for her to return to the life she’d been living for three years–private school to college to med school to out-of-the-projects. For DJ (Columbus Short), though, it possesses more redemptive powers (forgiving himself for not looking out for his little brother and caring about something other than himself).
I feel like I got to know DJ better as a character and I liked him more–he seemed more sympathetic, which is probably because of his more pronounced slacker, carefree tendencies. Raya, on the other hand, is focused to the point of being self-absorbed, unaware that she can’t have what she wants, she can’t achieve her goals without accommodating the will of others and helping them out from time to time (the film directly articulates this point).
Visually, Stomp the Yard is silken sunshine and How She Move is grainy cyan (actually a nice touch I thought). I prefer the filmed danced aesthetic of the latter. The making-of featurette of Stomp the Yard suggests that capturing the energy and the awe-inspiring movements of the dancers necessitated frenetic cutting and slow-motion. How She Move, though, concentrates on a different aspect of stepping as spectacle and as dance (not quite sure how to explain it right now). The recital aesthetic is incorporated in conjunction with low-angle shots, high-angle shots, and minimal slow-motion. It reminded me of the music video for Busta Rhymes’s song “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See” (directed by Hype Williams)–except much less use of fisheye lens.
How She Move trailer:
Stomp the Yard trailer:
Product Placement in How She Move: Nike, Pepsi, Dunlop, Aquafina
I dreamed a yesterday morning that I was talking to Peyton Manning about salsa/nacho chips.
Ah, yes. The Game Plan and The Comebacks are both out on DVD now. Go Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon, or Best Buy them today! I’m going to pick up both films in the near future; I can finally get that in-depth probe of The Comebacks vis-a-vis Not Another Teen Movie.
…to be prim and proper.
Edit: Click here for my entry on the film.
Or, How She Move. Directed by Ian Iqbal Rashid and written by Annmarie Morais, this dance film can be most conveniently described as a gender-reversal of Stomp the Yard, minus the near exclusive focus on stepping. Mais, je crois que cette pensee est trop…facile? sans l’inspiration.
Sorry. There I go thinking out loud en Francais again.
….I believe this idea is too easy, uninspired. How She Move surely can’t be summed up so neatly as “the female version of Stomp the Yard” not just because the plot details aren’t that similar, but also because I imagine aside from the ideologically significant role that dancing plays in the characters’ lives, other issues are at play. In fact, maybe it’s the film’s visual design and lighting scheme, but something about the trailer makes me think of Girlfight (Karyn Kusama, 2000)—probably on account of the defeminizing of dancing in the one film complements the manipulated masculinity of the other.
Here’s the trailer for How She Move.
Here’s the trailer for Girlfight.