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Director Sheldon Larry's Leave It On the Floor is a musical about the
Los Angeles ball culture, bred out of an East Coast phenomena of
underground LGBT youth dating back decades, but most prominently
featured in its progenitor the documentary Paris Is Burning. Thrown out
of their biological homes, black and Latino queers find and congregate
in new "houses," led by an elder (or "house parent") and then compete
in periodic competitions, dancing and vogueing down their own runways
in outrageous costumes, often simulating their own version of the outer
world, judged by their own peers. As a result, a newer, much stronger
family is formed where everyone is accepting of their differences and
they are able to operate at a level disallowed in mainstream society.
This movement is responsible for giving birth to the idea of the pop
star, including, but not limited to, such icons as Madonna, Lady Gaga
("'House' of Gaga" borrows the term from these ad hoc homes/teams) and
Beyonce's alter- ego Sasha Fierce. Much like the music industry
co-opted black R & B in the 1950's and popularized the form by
concocting Elvis Presley, most of these ladies owe a great part of
their success to this subculture.
The story concerns Bradley Darnell Lyle (the talented Ephraim Sykes), a black queer youth, thrown out by his mother Deondra (Metra Dee along with her fingernails are hilarious at first, before the low-budget laughs give way to the stone-cold reality of how heartless the mother is). He takes off in her car and gives "meet cute" a new definition when Carter (well-cast Andre Myers) crosses his path. Their exchange is indicative of how truly smart and sly Glenn Gaylord's (who also wrote the songs) screenplay is. From there, Bradley slowly immerses himself in the world of ball culture, meeting all kinds of characters along the way, including his house mother Queef Latina (Barbie-Q, who can threaten to stick her foot up anyone's ass with the best of them) and Eppie Durall (James Alsop almost steals the whole show) who wants nothing more than to give birth to her children.
The more upbeat songs are generally stronger than the slower ones. Princess Eminence (a divinely bitchy Phillip Evelyn, who also gives a heartfelt performance) gets to sing the toe- tapping "Justin's Gonna Call," explaining to Bradley that greener pastures await. And "Knock Them Mothafuckers Down" is a driving bowling-alley number about kicking ass and taking names that makes a catchy companion piece to the film's self-titled theme. While the movie doesn't quite properly weave Caldwell Jones (Demarkes Dogan as Queef Latina's lover) into the story, his rap duet with Carter, "This Is My Lament," achieves an odd beauty. "I'm Willing" and "Don't Jump Baby" didn't ring any tears, but "His Name Is Shawn," about the perception of and fight for identity of transgender and queer youth between the biological families who have ostracized them and the chosen families who have opened their arms to them is astonishing, appropriately awkward and strangely moving. The soundtrack also creates a really cool mash-up between "Ballroom Bliss" and Bradley's self-pitying "Loser's List."
Like 1970's Blaxploitation, there are some rough edges which work to the film's advantage. It's painfully obvious that the actors sing to their own vocals (a common practice in musicals that is less apparent in higher-budgeted affairs), but it's unimportant and hardly distracting.
To an outsider, at first, the Los Angeles ball culture may appear narcissistic and superficial. People prance down their runways, gesticulating and shooting irreverent poses, while being cheered on and/or booed in the process, all of which this attitude spreads into their respective homes. Yet, we eventually bear witness to talented dancers and contortionists, as well as the time and creativity which the artists invest into their costumes and makeup, but, ultimately, most importantly, the resilient fabric stitching these untraditional families together.
Floor is both a celebration of a marginalized culture which has been around for ages and developed out of a Darwinian instinct to exist and thrive, but its songs and sass beg for audience participation. Its flamboyance and musical revelry create an experience not unlike The Rocky Horror Picture Show, although I could be deathly wrong, as no one else immediately around me was bopping their head to the beats. This may have just been another indication of my square white boyness. Still, if this film could achieve a small fraction of the popularity and response of Rocky's, it would certainly be a respectable reflection of where our society is at today, especially considering the quality level is on par with modern classic Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
I wouldn't have the amazing background knowledge of cinesnatch (and
that review is fantastic by the way) but on a more simple level this
movie should be watched by young LGBT people and older ones struggling
with being LGBT.
It's an inspiring movie that explores many of the issues encountered by being LGBT.
It's outrageous, it's fun, it's tragic and sad, and it's a celebration of life and living.
Highly recommended for watching with friends or at your favourite LGBT club or gay bar.
I'm a middle-aged housewife and know little about the world depicted in this film, but still found this one of best musicals I've seen in the last 10 years. Well-written songs, fabulous dance numbers, and good acting--what more could you want? The music is so infectious I'm hoping to find the soundtrack to purchase. Put your prejudice aside and try watching it. I dare you not to get up and dance! Not sure what the previous reviewer's agenda is but, this is a musical! No one would ever have assumed that Oklahoma, Chicago, or West Side Story was trying to portray everyone who lived in those places or during those times. Lighten up or don't watch musicals.
I have had this movie for some time, but never really paid attention to
it, pushing it back on my viewing list. I finally watched it last
My spouse and I were overwhelmingly impressed with the acting, the singing, and the costumes. Being an indie film, we were not anticipating such a production, because it was gay themed it made it more incredible.
Being white gay men, it was certainly an incredible experience and pleasure to see a number of black actors getting parts. This is one movie I will watch multiple times.
At first glance, this is nothing more than a slight, upbeat story -- along the lines of the Step Up franchise -- of how pursuing one's artistic dream (music, dance, and drag, in this case) redeems everything. But there is both moreand lessgoing on in this film. Here, the filmmakers, both white men, set a love story in the midst of the ballroom scene in a poor section of Los Angeles. The mostly black, mostly trans kids of the House of Eminence live to "walk" the runways at competitions and dream of "taking home tens" and trophies. Leave It on the Floor depicts the poverty, homelessness, and marginality of its characters' lives but somehow imagines those conditions as having no impact on their existences; they've been thrown out of their homes and done time in prison; no one has a job. And yet they happily fall in and out of love, treat each other reasonably well, and live in a sort of idyll of sister/brotherhood. It's a Disney fantasy of poor queers of color; on the other hand, it's essentially the only film about poor queers of color. Deconstructing this flight of fancy will provide more insight into class, race, and gender than does the film itself; on the other hand, the characters are at peace with their queer, trans, outcast selves; they build friendships and families and fall in love. There's not much "realness," but there is a kind of pushing back against "realistic" stories of ruined, gritty, miserable black lives, and that's a provocative stance, the film's many weaknesses notwithstanding.
If you accept it for what it is, you will love it. This WILL be a cult
It's a fun, enjoyable and touching story about a young gay man who runs away from home.
He starts out as a petty thief and meets a guy he likes who then introduces him to the ballroom scene. The story of his "house mother" is also told as she struggles to survive with a lover who is incarcerated. We also explore the lines between masculinity and femininity, as well as the creativity and competition that goes into the dazzling costumes of the ballroom scene.
Lady Gaga has nothing on the blood and sweat that goes into these expressions of society's rejected souls.
One of the highlights is at the bowling alley, where you will feel empowered to knock down the pins of life.
The music is wonderful and while some are fun and light, as the film closes, I dare you to not be touched during the very telling exposition of the consequences of homophobia in the black community.
The new movie musical "Leave It On The Floor" does for the world of Ball competitions & gay houses what Birth of a Nation did for the Emancipation Proclamation. Both films written, directed & produced by white men seek to portray one dimensional, dysfunctional, shiftless, self destructive African Americans. The men in Leave it on the floor are gay ball dancers in the House of Eminence who are so self loathing they actually except abusive, destructive relationships and sing about those conditions as "Black Love". Leave it on the Floor is a gay black exploitation film. The subject matter as well as the performers are exploited for the benefit or the writer, director and producers. It is highly offensive to African- Americans and Gay African American males specifically. The actors did the best they could with an uninspired script and weak amateurish song writing. Poorly written, filmed, edited & directed.
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