|Index||8 reviews in total|
When i turned this movie on late one sunday evening i wasn't expected much from the film but after about 30 minutes i found myself glued to the television set with an un-expected ending that just makes the film better and a cast which includes Isaiah Washington And a strong performance from Vicellous Reon Shannon This Film Is Really a must See.
With so many films that "dumb down" for the audience, it is refreshing to see a film with some level of intelligence. Isaiah Washington gives one of his better performances as an executive of an upstart television network (think WB or UPN). Nicole Ari Parker once again demonstrates her range as an actor in her role as a struggling sitcom writer/producer. If you need just one reason to see the film, see it for her performance. Another would be for those interested in learning more about what goes on "behind-the-scenes" of network television. Not a perfect film, but definitely worth a look.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Dancing in September chronicles a year in the life of a TV writer
(Nicole Ari Parker) as her show debuts with great success and
later becomes another victim of demographics. The film is
ambitious in making a statement about the struggle for African
Americans to not only gain a place in the entertainment industry,
but to be able to produce quality shows without network tampering.
Nicole Ari Parker gives a great performance (as always) as her character starts off being a creative young woman with strong convictions, then loses sight of her work as she gains money and status, and is later mournful about compromising her show because of network demands. The role could have been very cliche, but Parker pulls it off perfectly and authentically - you can see her character gain confidence and become a little arrogant through success, but it is never exaggerated. All the actors in this movie, even the ones with only a brief amount of screentime, give strong performances.
There are some clever bits, like when the writer coins a catchphrase, "You gotta keep it real!" for the sitcom, which becomes ultra popular. But as the show gets altered, the writer herself struggles to "keep it real" and that catchphrase begins to lose its cache. There's also one scene in which the young lead actor of the sitcom complains about people expecting him to be Will Smith. Meanwhile, the man who plays his father in that sitcom is James Avery, who also played the father figure of Will Smith in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."
My one major complaint is that there are way too many different elements crammed into this one movie. There's the modern romance between the two leads, the dark comedy about the TV network, some gritty violence concerning a boy from the streets, and a strange documentary-style commentary interspersed throughout. I assume the director did this to explore all aspects of the characters involved, but it ends up being kind of messy, like it doesn't know what kind of movie it wants to be. The best way I can describe it (and I'm sure there are better examples out there) is "Hav Plenty" meets "The Player" meets "Menace II Society". Still, "Dancing in September" is a good achievement and because of its unconventional style and criticism of Hollywood, I can only assume that it must have been hard to get greenlighted. Oh yeah, there's some nice camerawork in it as well.
Has anyone else noticed the immense similarity of this films content and that of Bamboozled? A black producer is given the privilege to start their own sit-com but ends up playing to racial stereotypes? Both Films were released round about the same time so its unclear which drew influence from which though I think its more likely Spike Lee would be the one being Plagiarised here. Other than that I thought it was a great movie. I loved the character of James (or Semaj as he prefers to be called as "its just James backwards but its got more flavour"). The lead (who doesn't give a damn about Semaj's "name or flavour) was also very sympathetic.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As real as it gets. An idealistic young writer leaves a show because it isn't realistic, and then gets her BIG CHANCE... but it might evolve into what she was trying to avoid. As a fan of 80s and 90s sitcoms, I loved watching the creation of a show with a great/used concept (guy from the wrong side of the tracks is taken in by rich people) and shows good critical acclaim and good numbers... but not as great as what everyone wants... so they change the success - as Hollywood does TIME AND TIME AGAIN! Make it funnier the network says, so they make it into 'Urkel'. If you look at the show, a lot of sitcoms recent and past are skewered. If they had used a reality-show viewpoint, it would be "The Comeback" but from the writer's view. So tragic how the network execs keep saying it is her show and the numbers are good... but it needs to be 'more.' The star becomes "The Star"... but it isn't enough. Just marvelous.
This is a great movie that provides great insight on why Hollywood isn't quick to heed to the complaints by minority advocacy groups. Though the relatively low budget of this movie is sometimes obvious, the acting is definitely exceptional. Plus, the film does more than any box office hit does - it makes you think.
In today's sea of brainless dramas and embarrassing comedies, this movie stands out as a refreshingly intelligent alternative. Touching performances and an intriguing subject matter make for a fine film that Mr. Bythewood should be extremely proud to proclaim his first. I look forward to his future work.
"Dancing..."takes on an old issue. Is network television a machine with no conscience which prostitutes artistic talent while pandering to the audience under the pretense of offering quality entertainment for the sole purpose of seducing them into buying products while appeasing advertisers? Well, of course it is. The matter, as dealt with by "Dancing...", focuses on an African-American sitcom and staff, mixes some light romance and a spritz of comedy with it's core drama to a generally entertaining result in spite of some peculiar camera effects, some black and white explanations which come out of no where, and a stuttering flow between the story and some miscellaneous subplots. Enjoyable but nothing new.
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