4 items from 2014
It can be less than compelling in real life to hear a burlesque performer explain how their routines are designed to challenge the beholder's preconceptions of gender or beauty or whatnot.
The picture follows eight burlesque performers based in New York, and features plenty of often-explicit footage of their acts. When Bambi the Mermaid pushes an egg out of her vagina — things emerging from vaginas and rectums is a recurring theme — and explains that the egg-laying is an homage to the trashy oeuvre of John Waters, Exposed hints at a less-explored, potentially more interesting theme than body politics: how what th »
Director: Beth B
Running time: 78 minutes
If the title Exposed: Beyond Burlesque catches your eye purely for the word ‘burlesque’ then I’m afraid, my friend, you have picked the wrong film.
Starring a melee of talent, this documentary delves into New York City’s underground performance art scene, with interviews from several different – and definitely unique – performers. From the 1980s onwards, these artists have used the style of burlesque dancing to inform, aggrevate, and politicize their messages, ranging from a dance featuring a nipple-tasseled Lady Justice, to a satirical act focusing on a rabbi (and yes, the male performer is naked from the waist down). Although many of the acts shown are ‘piss take’ pieces, many of the performers had led shy, sheltered lives before taking up the profession, »
- Jazmine Sky Bradley
12 Years A Slave (15)
What with the acclaim, the awards buzz and the harrowing subject matter, finally seeing McQueen's slavery drama now feels like a duty. But this is an "issue movie" unlike any other, both in its deliberate formalism and its under-represented history. Along with Ejiofor's abductee, we're fully immersed in a slavery system so brutally oppressive even the expression of suffering is forbidden. McQueen gives us a study of institutionalised cruelty, the forces propping it up and its innumerable victims.
The Railway Man (15)
Middle-aged romance is rapidly derailed by events of the past in this earnest bio-drama, as Kidman spurs Scotsman Firth to revisit his Asian prisoner-of-war days, »
- Steve Rose
Beth B looks at something you might call Burlesque 2.0, building on the naughty showgirl personae with political satire
The noble mission of burlesque is to reclaim erotic cabaret from the commercial chill of lap-dancing clubs and restore some of the style, theatricality and artistry of days gone by (although the nostalgically remembered turns may have been regarded at the time with the same disapproval as today's pole-dancing venues). This documentary from Beth B looks at something you might call Burlesque 2.0, building on the naughty showgirl personae and retro chic, and taking in performance art and political satire; it's burlesque that looks at body image, sexual identity and cis and transgender issues. But there's a fair bit of narcissism and self-satisfaction here. I'm bound to say burlesque may be something that has to be experienced live, not on screen. Burlesque requires mischief and mystery; somehow this low-cost doc reduces both.
- Peter Bradshaw
4 items from 2014
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