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Go for It! (2011)
Wonderful street dance film by first time director.
Carmen Marron had no previous experience in film except as a casual moviegoer. She didn't spend years learning and honing her craft, nor was she educated at UCLA's film school or Columbia College.
Yet, with the financial assistance of her husband, she went on to direct "Go For It" a film that explores the lives of Carmen Salgado (Aimee Garcia), her best friend Gina (Gina Rodriguez), families and the influence of dance in their lives.
With dance scenes choreographed by four different choreographers - Kristin Denehy, Alison Faulk, Ruth Inchaustegui and Rino Nakasone - "Go For It" gives us lively and varied dance with driving beats.
The story is not unique, we've seen a version in just about every film of the genre.
Carmen wants to dance with her hip hop troupe in her Logan Square (Chicago) neighborhood. Though not against her dancing, most in her family would rather her pursue an education, specifically her father who is a garbage collector.
Her best friend Gina is in a toxic relationship with a ill tempered boy whose only interested is deviant sexual acts with her all while he chases other girls. It's a relationship that Carmen is against but Gina is determined to maintain because of her own low self esteem.
In school, Carmen is under the watchful eye of her teacher Frank (Al Bandiero) who wants her to apply for a school in Los Angeles that teaches dance so she can get away from the hood. However, he has his own demons that continue to haunt him.
As in most films of this nature, dance is Carmen's only release. She practices everyday after school in the park with the rest of the local dance troupe. Most of their performances are at a local underground club that offers of dance slams.
In the middle of all this, she gets involved with a middle class white boy from Evanston who seems genuinely interested in her and consequently pulling her in a separate direction altogether.
The theme is fairly close to films like "Flashdance" and "Footloose" with elements of "Dirty Dancing", "Step Up" and even "Saturday Night Live" tossed in.
However, instead of sticking with middle of the road hip hop dance sequences, Ms Marron mixed the themes with the addition of Asian and Flamenco nuances. Combined with crack cinematography by Christian Sprenger "Go For It" delivers delightful dance scenes that entertain but don't overwhelm.
More impressively - this is Carmen's first film...with no film background! "Go For It" is far from perfect in that it joins a growing list of dance slam films. Yet it is infinitely better than films developed by directors with extensive film backgrounds and training. Ms Marron proved to be a quick study with a stylish, entertaining film. Continue to go for it Carmen! - Geoffrey Burton
Everything a fairy tale should be
What a wonderful, fanciful movie "Stardust" is.
I could easily end it with that one statement and suffice to say, one could take it as a very strong recommendation to go see it.
At a time when Hollywood seems bent on forcing remakes and sequels down our throats, "Stardust" makes us remember why we go to the movies in the first place - to escape reality for a couple of hours and explore other lives, other times, or other planets. Ironically, "Stardust" takes us to all three places effortlessly and with a childlike glee we all long for.
"Stardust" is full of all the characters we remember as children: princes, witches, pirates, ghosts and scoundrels. It has the damsel in distress, the hero, the rogues, the obstacles, spells, antidotes, charms, and even a touch of light-speed to make it quasi modern.
"Stardust" is about a man from the town of Wall, which is conveniently situated next to a wall that separates their town from a magical kingdom. The only way past the wall is through a breech that is diligently guarded by a scruffy old codger (played wonderfully by David Kelly). One day a young man from Wall named Ben Barnes out maneuvers the old guard and escapes through the breech. He happens upon an enchanted kingdom called Stormhold where he meets a chained (and very sexy) young lady named Una. She is held captive by a witch and leashed by an unbreakable chain. While the witch is away, Una seduces Ben and sends him on his way. Ben returns to Wall without incident and continues his life. But nine months later he is summoned to the wall breech where the old guard hands him what you might expect - a baby boy.
The boy, named Tristan grows up to be a rather hapless young man (Charlie Cox) who is smitten with a girl way out of his league and also betrothed to another. Nevertheless, the young lady (named Victoria and played Sienna Miller) goes out once with Tristain and he confesses his love to her. After they espy a falling star, she tells him he can have her if he retrieves the star and brings it back to her. He agrees and sets out on his quest, which will take him to the other side of the wall.
Meanwhile in the kingdom of Stormhold, the old king (perfectly played by Peter O'Toole) is dying. He calls his remaining living sons to tell them who shall succeed him to the throne. His sons' names are Primus, Secondus, Sextmus, and Septimus. The other sons where killed by the other brothers in a humorous competition to see who lives to get the throne.
Anyway, he tosses his ruby charm to the sky and Voila, that what brings the star to earth.
The star crashes in the form of a beautiful woman named Yvaine (Clare Danes) and she, of course, is wearing the charm. But little does she know she is now being persuaded by Tristain, the Princes, and also an aging witch named Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) who wants to cut out the stars heart to regain her own youth.
Complicated? Yes. But it all comes together as the adventure unfolds.
Tristain is the first to find Yvaine but is so blinded by his devotion to Victoria he doesn't recognize the growing bond between he and Yvaine. His initial interest lie only in returning Yvaine to Victoria as proof of his love. But he must get past the princes and Lamia first. The princes aren't that big an issue as they are constantly trying to kill each other - and just as in "Pirates of the Caribbean" - never has death been so funny.
But Tristain also encounters the witch who enslaved his mother (though he doesn't know it's his mother) and a band of flying pirates led by Robert DeNiro.
His is the most important character in the movie and DeNiro plays it to a tee. He steals the movie with his toughness and soon we learn an undercover secret that will leave audiences on the floor with laughter. Though his role is small in length, DeNiro is extraordinary!
Michelle Pfeiffer is wonderful as Lamia - a sexy evil witch. Claire Danes is most appropriate as the confused and distressed Yvaine. She makes a perfect damsel. Jason Flemyng, Adam Buston, Rupert Everett, and Mark Strong add the perfect dose of levity as the fighting princes whom, as they die return as ghosts ala "Blithe Spirit" and "High Spirits".
Moreover director Matthew Vaughn, whose only other directing experience was "Layer Cake", weaves an enchanting tale that everyone will enjoy.
"Stardust" may be too complex for young children, but anyone over the age of 13 will want to see this movie multiple times. It's that good. "Stardust" is what movies are supposed to be. Perfectly written, perfectly cast, perfectly directed, and perfectly acted. In other words...perfect.