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Posts Tagged ‘dance movies’

Staying Alive

Thursday, July 13th, 2023

July 15, 1983

Earlier in this series we talked about how PSYCHO II was a risky, unlikely sequel of ’83 that was so good it actually went over pretty well. There’s another one that did not go over well at all (though it made about $30 million more than PSYCHO II at the box office). Like RETURN OF THE JEDI, this one is a sequel to a huge hit and pop culture phenomenon from 1977.

How is it that there’s a sequel to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, and it’s directed by Sylvester Stallone, but I didn’t see it until now? I was always curious, but I knew it wasn’t about disco, it looks like he’s doing aerobics on the cover, and I’d only ever heard it mentioned as a punchline, so it stayed low on my watch list until I decided to study the summer of ’83. Only after watching it did I read up on it and realize it was pretty much a universally hated movie. Wikipedia says it’s “the earliest film to hold a score of 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.” It has an average of 23 on Metacritic. World’s biggest SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER fan Gene Siskel called it “a typically weak sequel that has no legitimate artistic reason for being.” A 2006 Entertainment Weekly list called it the worst sequel of all time. I actually couldn’t find a positive review, and few that weren’t scathing, seething, disgusted.

But I’m not crazy, the world is crazy, when I tell you I genuinely enjoyed STAYING ALIVE. I’m not trying to be a show off here, I’m just coming to it with vastly different artistic values, I think. I’m not a circa-1983 critic determined to assassinate the exploiters of a sacred text of the ‘70s, or a Razzie voter avenging popular actors for being hunky, or a snarkster eager to snicker at The Worst Sequels of All Time!!! can you believe it!? How did this get made!? I come to it as a fan of Sylvester Stallone who discovered that holy shit, this is the missing link of his directorial work, not just the movie he did between ROCKY III and IV, but the stylistic bridge between them. It’s also very ROCKY-like in its content, with its ham and egger underdog chasing his dreams – a huge plus to me, but used as a criticism in every review I looked at – so it’s clearly very personal to the director. (read the rest of this shit…)

Saturday Night Fever

Wednesday, July 12th, 2023

1983: SUMMER OF NUB supplement: SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (1977)

I was born in the ‘70s. Between you and me, it was a week after JAWS came out. So I don’t remember the release of SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, or Disco Demolition Night, I was busy with other shit. Mister Rogers, STAR WARS, Popeye cartoons, learning to tie my shoes, etc.

So growing up there was this idea of “the seventies” that was really funny. Ha ha, they had bellbottoms, they listened to disco, the movies had wah wah guitars. A big joke. The high-pitched Bee Gee vocals, white polyester suits, light up floors and dance moves of SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, as parodied in AIRPLANE!, on Sesame Street and elsewhere, were part of that impression.

But when I was a teenager, hip hop samples opened a path to P-Funk, and 99 cent records at Goodwill introduced me to Innervisions and Headhunters. Film appreciation led me to SHAFT, SUPER FLY, DOLEMITE and THE MACK (with a side order of TAXI DRIVER and all that). Suddenly “the seventies” weren’t as much of a joke in my mind, they were becoming a legendary period. But disco still seemed like some bullshit. As smooth jazz was to jazz, disco was to funk, I thought. Still kind of do, to some extent. (read the rest of this shit…)

Step Up: Year of the Dance (a.k.a. Step Up China)

Wednesday, January 25th, 2023

STEP UP: YEAR OF THE DANCE (a.k.a. STEP UP CHINA) is a Chinese production developed by Lionsgate as an official entry in the STEP UP franchise, though it’s not connected by any characters. It was released in China in 2019 and apparently here (digital only) in 2020, but I didn’t find out until recently. I watched the English-dubbed version that’s on Tubi because I wasn’t sure if the VOD release would be different. (That’s not the ideal way to watch it, I imagine, but I got over it.)

My podcast friend Michael Scott of Action For Everyone shares my love of the STEP UP series and the dance movie genre, and we’ve talked about doing a STEP UP episode some day. He always says that dance movies are martial arts movies, and this one really literalizes that notion. It actually starts with a fight, and has more of them later, and the central dance crew find their success by starting a fad of “kung fu street dance.” So it makes sense that YEAR OF THE DANCE is directed by the great American stunt veteran and martial artist Ron Yuan, who you’ve seen in many movies including DOUBLE DRAGON, BLOOD & BONE, THE ACCOUNTANT and THE PAPER TIGERS, and who recently directed BLADE OF THE 47 RONIN.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Make It Happen

Tuesday, December 21st, 2021

As you know, I sometimes enjoy the dance movies. So when I was preparing my review for KATE a while back and realized there was one starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, I knew I had to see it.

It’s called MAKE IT HAPPEN and it’s about a young lady who tries to make it happen. It came out in 2008, when Winstead had just done DEATH PROOF and LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD and was about to do SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. She plays Lauryn Kirk, a small town Indiana dancer who dreams of going to a prestigious dance school in Chicago. It’s the standard “Ever since Mom and Dad died…” situation: her and her older brother Joel (John Reardon, WHITE CHICKS, FALLEN, later “Young Kevin Flynn / Clu [body double]” in TRON LEGACY) only had each other and are very close and he’s overly protective of her. They run their dad’s garage, with her working as bookkeeper, but she’s going to Chicago to audition for the school, and he’s in denial that she might really be leaving.

Of course, the auditions are hard, and she fails to impress the openly snobbish admissions guy (Gordon Tanner, HOME ALONE: THE HOLIDAY HEIST). To be fair, her standard hip hop moves don’t seem impressive, but he really should be more friendly when giving her the terrible advice to be “softer, more sensual and feminine.” (read the rest of this shit…)