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All That Jazz (1979)
All that Jazz
6 May 2007
The famously popular Bob Fosse died in 1987, leaving a behind a legacy of Dance, Broadway, and Film. He also left behind a connected group of people which were linked to him both personally and professionally, some of whom seem forever tied to his work. In the 1979 film All That Jazz there are several relative characters and scene that can be compared to Bob Fosses own life and experiences. The film depicted Bob Fosse his life of hard work determination, womanizing, and substance abuse at an accelerated rate. A huge part of Fosses life was his obsession with sex. Ann Reinking plays Kate Jagger in the film. She was one of Fosse's most famous dancers as well as his lover. Casting her as the suffering girlfriend Reinking choreographed and was considered the torchbearer for Fosse's distinctive slinky sexy style of dancing. Ann Reinking got her big break dancing in hit dancing in Fosses musicals of the 1970s, moving from the chorus in Pippin to the lead in Chicago, replacing Fosse wife Gwen Verdon who originally had the role. Verdon was not in All That Jazz but character Audrey Paris played by Leland Palmer was based on her. The important character the angel of death Angelique was played by another girlfriend to Fosse, Jessica Lange.

Throughout the film it was relevant that Joe Gideon, played by Roy Scheider, was based on Fosse. He was a workaholic choreographer and director. Gideon had a routine every day consisting of taking pills and smoking and perfection at the studio. Fosse was addicted to cigarettes, and most of all dance. Through out the film and the production of the play in the movie he refers to colleagues. A songwriter in the movie Paul Dunn was a pick at actual songwriter Stephen Schwartz, whom Fosse did not particularly enjoy working with. This nakedly autobiographical piece veers from gritty drama to a glitter and glam musical. The self-absorption literally opens alter ego Joe Gideon's heart in a key scene during cardiac surgery. The self-destructive, self-loathing, creative Gideon dies in a large comical extravagant performance. Fosse actually did die of a heart attack while he revived his 1965 hit Sweet Charity. The film is undeniable a biography of Bob Fosse exposing his personal elements and moment in his life from the literal to the figurative.
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Feminist Review
6 May 2007
Sally Potter is one of the most respected names in feminist film. The Tango Lesson, while very different from any of her earlier works, seems to be a really personal, even autobiographical film. It's about a middle-aged British filmmaker named Sally Potter. More recent productions have abandoned prudery towards women's bodies and moved to "the other side" of visual pleasure. The film shows Sally's own personal involvement with Tango. Its original purpose of something fun, new, exciting and stress relief from her routine life soon became an obsession causing several conflicts.

The relevance of feminism in the film is blatantly present. A conflict scene in the film is between characters Sally and her Tango partner, teacher and love interest Pablo Veron. The back and fourth arguments are the strongest representation of a feminist point of view in a relationship. After Sally's first Tango performance with Pablo they are involved in a confrontation. Pablo's issue with Sally is that he is the leader and she was to follow which in his eyes she was not doing during the performance. The feminist thought and idea is that men lead woman. Sally replies to this by saying "you danced like a soloist". She said that no emotions were involved in the dance sequence which is extremely important in order to create a believable and interesting performance.

The fact that they were involved in a personal relationship outside of the dancing did not help the situation. Pablo's character was an alpha male who fell for a woman whose strength and power intimidated him. I noticed in the film in several scenes in his house in the bathroom, on top of the fire place, and in the dressing room, Pablo was placed in front of a mirror. His obsession with himself intrigues Sally to a near jealous streak. She is envious of his confidence. He is also in control of the language spoken between the two of them. They both speak French, Spanish and English. When they are not dancing as business partners and enter their personal relationship they speak French. Pablo unable to speak very well English prefers not to while conversing with Sally.

Sally Potter was not considered what society considers beautiful. She was an older woman who dressed moderately, did not wear makeup, and did not possess a voluptuous body. "The gaze" in television and movies is a serious issue for our society. Woman are considered spectacles used as objects of visual and physical pleasure. The director's gaze is present in the film because she represents and analyzes our visual culture in how men and woman perceive each other.
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Footloose (1984)
Footloose Archetypal Review
6 May 2007
Archetypal is the original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on which they are based; a model or first form (Dictionary.com). Heroes endure a process to understand themselves and other people surrounding them, including friends and family. This process is the hero cycle which is where an individual gains the courage and ability to over continuous obstacles. Footloose made in 1984 is one film which the Hero Cycle theory, created by Joseph Campbell, can be applied. The main character Ren McCormack, played by Kevin Beacon, stirs up a small town in the West, where dancing and playing modern music is illegal. By helping this town and its citizens Ren ends up finding him self and facing his own personal issues.

McCormack is an insecure city boy from Chicago who moves into his uncle's house with his mother. His uncle has two daughters which Ren is expected to set a positive influence upon. His initial conflict is with the Reverend Shaw Moore, played by John Lithgow. Five years ago a group of teenagers died in a drinking and driving accident, ultimately leading up the illegalization of dancing. This is Rens "call to adventure" the first step of the hero cycle. Confused about this culturally stricken town he begins to the separation stage from his cultures leading to his unhappiness.

The next step of the cycle Ren begins to have obstacles and trials thrown in front of him. Being an outsider and unacceptable to the community already set in place Ren has more bullies than friends. One trial is a tractor race. He wins the trial by accident but begins the initiation sequence. It represents a right of passage and also introduces him to a love interest, Arial the reverends daughter, played by Lori Singer.

Another trial in the cycle which brings Ren to rock bottom is being kicked off the gymnastic team. He feels defeated and helpless completely aware of the reason for his disposal. He is being discriminated. He has a confrontation with his uncle which pushes him over the edge. Throughout the film he constantly reprimands Ren for causing trouble, saying "you didn't cause trouble in the city". He also blames him for his mother losing her job. The scene in which he discusses the situations at hand with his mother is an extremely important scene. His mother believes in him and offers her blessing to do what is necessary for self fulfillment.

Rens attempt to save himself and the town is to throw a dance. Since dances are illegal it is up to him to introduce the idea to the town council. At the town meeting Ren is nervous but prepared to make his argument. This is the entering of the final stages of the hero cycle, the magic flight or rescue. An extremely strong point is brought up by Ren. He quotes King David, "and they danced before the Lord". He explains how he said there is a time to laugh, a time to weep and a time to mourn, and now is a time to dance. It's their way of celebrating life.

The Reverend Shau and the council immediately say no to the idea of a dance. But an incident occurs helping the reverend to see his mistakes. Throughout the movie the constant struggle between the congregation and the reverend. This is noticeable in the fact that the reverend is always preaching higher up looking down at the congregation. The reverend needed to understand his struggle with his own selfishness to understand his wife, daughter and family the community.

In the end the dance brings the town together especially Ren and the high school students, bringing children closer to the parents and the community closer as a whole. The involvement of decorating and preparation shows the positive side of a formal dance. Now that the cycle is complete Ren gained a rise in courage and better knowledge to continue to overcome future obstacles. Footloose provides incite to understand the cycle and seeing its influence in not only movies, television and literature, but in everyday life. It offers an innate appreciation for archetypal stories like the hero cycle.
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Dirty Dancing (1987)
Moral and Philosophical Review
6 May 2007
The blossoming time of adolescent life is exceptionally crucial. This is the time where the young adult must develop independent morals and values. Having to choose to adopt these standards in which they were previously educated by parents and other surrounding adults, or to change and create new ones. The film Dirty Dancing arises moral relativism on several different levels of age from young adolescents, mild age and seniority. Mainly, the youth is indisputably easier influenced and tested by the world because of their innocence.

The conventional outlook set by our society as to view dance is quite often mistaken. The nature of dance is depicted to be explicit and sexual especially in this film. Character Frances 'Baby' Houseman, played by Jennifer Grey, is at a vulnerable age. She is subject to moral relativism and placed in many situations where she has to use her own judgment to make the right decision. The problem at hand is that while the solution might be right for 'Baby' is not necessarily right in the eyes of her father Dr. Jake Houseman, played by Jerry Orbach. Originally she was not looking for excitement and because of her fear almost avoided any at all.

A new sense of independence 'Baby' begins her individuation from her family. With this separation she is tempted by love interest and dance instructor Johnny Castle, played by Patrick Swayze. The dance lessons and intimate involvement are meticulously hidden because of her predicted disapproval from her family and mainly her father. 'Baby's' intimidation to her father can be noticed in her constant repetition of "daddy" and acceptance of her childish nickname. 'Baby's' first sign of separation is her acceptance and answer to her philosophical as well as physical needs. Johnny and 'Baby's' relationship quickly turned physical. She was now entering a new part of life having to debate about virginity and premarital sex. Not only does Johnny provide romantic interest he also introduces her to dance. Dance seemed to be a freedom land for 'Baby' where she could truly express her moods and feelings.

A vitally important time in the film puts ' Baby' directly into moral relativism. Another dance instructor Penny Johnson, played by Cynthia Rhodes, is suddenly pregnant. Contemplating Penny's financial state 'Baby' asks her father for money but does not inform him that it will be used for an abortion. Because of his trust for his daughter he respects her deception. Though he at the time was unaware of it 'Baby' made the decision to protect Penny by not exploiting her situation by risking the bond she held with her father.

The encouragement of delinquency in Dirty Dancing and the story about "Baby' and her individuation is accurate. By sacrificing her relationship with her father and family she was letting go of her innocence and a step closer to becoming a woman. Adopting her own opinions, morals and values she is able to make decisions. This does not mean she will always make the right ones but it is a process determining an individual's moral relativism. We can learn from our mistakes and use the new knowledge to further help decision making
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Top Hat (1935)
Top Hat Film Review
6 May 2007
Director Mark Sandrich produces Top Hat, one of the 1930's essential musicals of cinema, and arguably the best musical of its era. A capturing story of loves personal and interpersonal conflicts, combined with outstanding dancing and song. Top Hat immediately caught my attention and never let it stray away. Sandrich excellently portrays chemistry between main characters Fred Astaire, and Ginger Rogers. The movie conveys realistic acting styles, and camera angles. Each scene tends to end off with a joke and a punch line which I found quite amusing. The story line is real regardless of the hysterical conflicts involving the complete unawareness of Rogers character Dale towards love interest Jerry played by Astaire.

The dramatic plot enables us to feed off the characters and their real feelings. I truly entered this world created by Sandrich, because of the set designs and costumes. This was a higher society of people presumably a fantasy for some lower class people in the 1930's. Sandrich style is present in the movie through many scenes for instance in one scene playing the song London Bridge to show the audience the characters were in London, as well as characters using accents.

Sandrich controls sound, sight and our imagination with this film. An interesting scene using the control of sound was Astaire's soft shoe dance. Character Jerry is dancing for Horace Hardwick in a hotel room but is too loud and ultimately decided to throw sand on the floor to muffle the noise. The use of lighting on stage contributes greatly to keep us aware if it is night or day. The special effects in the gazebo scene really put me in the rain to sing and dance with Jerry and Dale. Sandrichs conversion from scene to scene including the punch lines is coincidental. This can be seen from the clinking on a vase in the hotel and then switching to the motion of the baton hitting the music stand to conduct the orchestra.

This film is quintessential Fred and Ginger, from the initial verbal sparring and mistaken identities that keep them apart, to the wonderful tap and partner dances which reconcile their differences and establish their love and equality as a couple. Both quantity and quality are present throughout the movie. An all around great movie filled with energy and enthusiasm.
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Gold Diggers of 1933 Film Review
6 May 2007
This 1933 classic directed by Mervyn LeRoy brings the viewer back to the simple style of dance. Busby Berkeley directed and choreographed the dance scenes in Gold Diggers of 1933. The film portrays more of a behind the stage point of view from a group of dancers, producers, choreographers, composers and show people, struggling during the depression to not only make ends meat but to pursue careers which provided them with happiness. The basic plot is to jump start a production in the works with half written compositions of music and zero funding available at such a financially unstable period of time.

The film starts out depicting three female dancers who are out of work and stealing milk through their neighbor's window. I enjoyed this scene because it shows how desperate and depressed characters Polly, Carol, and Trixie truly felt at the time. I enjoyed how they had a personal challenge as to who got to attend an audition when rumors about a show were surfacing. The girls picked types of taxi cabs checkered and colored. Whichever taxi came first that girl got to wear the one nice outfit in their possession, which was Carol's uniform from work, and go to the audition. Also I noticed considering it was a black and white movie the director had the checkered taxi cab to be the winner because a colored taxi would not be able to be deciphered on film as a checkered one would.

The film was risqué for the 1930's. In the scene Petting in the Park a small perverted child runs around after the girls, egging on the men to pursue them. There were a few elements in this scene which I found humorous. The director used camera angles for the child, the girls and the audiences' point of view. Using stage lights and a large white curtain LeRoy was able to project the illusion of the girls undressing, while the small child drew up the curtain to reveal presumably naked girls. I was amused in that when the curtain was lifted the girls were wearing metal outfits. Robert, the mysterious donator of funds to the show and love interest of Polly also performs in the show. Petting in the park ends with Polly sitting on a bench in the park with her back to Robert who is holding a scissor cutting through the metal outfit to finish off this comical scene.

Overall Gold Diggers of 1933 portrays the hard work and struggle men and woman on Broadway put into their lives and shows. While the dancing was not too spectacular and fairly simple, the basic plot was very enjoyable. I feel that to take time to view this film gives you insight in both the depression and hardships of the 1930's but also the happiness and joy of dancing, singing and performing on Broadway.
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Center Stage (2000)
Psychological Review of Center Stage
6 May 2007
We are living in a world where disorders are engrossing both male and females of all ages. Eating disorders are particularly growing in numbers and affecting more people throughout the world each day. Occurring quite commonly with young female ballet dancers the film Center Stage offers insight for the audience to grasp this issue. To introduce and expose eating disorders is an aid to help recover and possibly prevent future victims of such a seriously physically and psychologically draining issue.

One main eating disorder is Anorexia Nervosa which is a psychiatric disorder that causes a person to have a warped perception of their body image. They have a constant and obsessive fear of gaining weight so severe that the person will starve themselves. Along with the psychological issues of body image distortion highly serious physical tribulations begin to plague the body. Anorexia can negatively affect organ functions such as the heart and muscles and can ultimately lead to death. This is a serious problem especially considering that many young adults have the disease greatly affecting their growing process.

While the film has a light an airy tone it substantially touches on many important issues that are present in the world of a young ballet dancer. The constant insistent from instructors and peers to be thin weighs down on character Maureen, played by Susan May Pratt, and she turns to Anorexia and Bulimia. At first Maureen rejects food and starves herself but then when she can no longer control her hunger begins to eat and then force herself to throw up her food. The stress is not being eased from her mother, Nancy, played by Debra Monk. Unable to make her own dreams of being a ballerina a reality, Nancy is constantly on Maureen to achieve them.

Most Anorexics conceal their disease because they are ashamed. Their original disappointment for not being "thin" enough has now doubled to their embarrassment of being sick. To tackle such an important issue of our society Center Stage is one way to help make them known to the public. The media is constantly portraying flawlessly thin woman and also men, making it hard for people to accept themselves. It is critical that our current society help changes the perception of what perfect is.
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Billy Elliot (2000)
Gender Identity In Billy Elliot
6 May 2007
During a time of a Minor Strike in 1984 acknowledging self purpose was the last thing on Billy Elliot's mind. The film Billy Elliot takes the audience through the internal personal battle of a young boy named Billy and the struggle to hide his secret talent and love for Ballet from his family and friends because of the boundaries set by society dealing with gender and sexual identity. The assumption that male dancers must be homosexual and essentially being compared to the stereotype of what is considered "female" has always been an issue. Billy Elliot embraces these qualities and turns their falsity into fuel for self fulfillment.

The vibe from the film initially distinguishes male and female confinements from the first main scene. This is displayed by the building where character Billy, played by Jamie Bell, boxes and the ballet class is held. It's no surprise that there are no female boxers or male ballerina taking lessons. The boys were all promptly informed to not look at the girls in the ballet class because they were either looking at them in a sexual way or be considered a homosexual for enjoying the sight of ballet. One theme occurring in the movie was the relationship between Billy and friend Michael, played by Stuart Wells. Their friendship was not sexual in that Billy was not gay despite the fact that Michael was. Michael asks him "are you a puffer" a slang term referring to homosexuality, again displaying this idea that if his friend is a Ballet dancer he must be homosexual. In one scene where both kids are in the gym on Christmas Eve, Michael has on a tutu and Billy is dancing around. Billy's father walks in and sees the two together thinking that something must be going on between them. The most important battle Billy has to face in the film is between his family and his personal acceptance. At first Billy conceals his new found love for ballet because he knows how his father and brothers will react. It is not until Billy finally gains the self confidence and esteem for himself that he can defend himself to his family. Originally with the news of Billy, Jackie Elliot, his father played by Gary Lewis, is in tears. But gradually with the help of Billy and his dance teacher his family is not only accepting but encouraging of Billy's talent and goal of attending The Royal Ballet school.

By the end of the film Billy Elliot, the audience could easily be in tears with its happy ending. The film is about gender identity and breaking down the boundaries set by stereotypes in our society. Determining what is feminine and masculine plays a large role in our lives. The world of dance breaks those boundaries showing that not just woman are graceful and elegant dancers but so are men. And men should not be demeaned or judged because of their involvement with anything that is considered "feminine".
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Honey (2003)
Honey Film Review
6 May 2007
In a modern day fairy tale the film Honey takes the audience through a "Cinderella Story" with a hip-hop twist. The story is crowded with incidents and subplots showing the negative side of growing up in bad neighborhood but also a young woman's attempt to liberate young kids to leave the temptations surrounding them. The main character struggles for personal success in changing environments but soon finds out that behind every promise of progression as a dancer lies an ulterior motive.

Every fairy tale finishes off with a happy ending but before that can be accomplished a conflict or series of obstacles needs to occur. A major issue in the film is the little opportunity presented to the children growing up in a bad neighborhood in New York's East Harlem. Honey Daniels, played by Jessica Alba, teaches hip-hop dancing at a local youth center and encourages the local kids to attend to keep them off the streets and out of trouble, but the temptations of drugs and violence swarm around them. The drug dealers are constantly looking for willing users, new users and possible future sellers to carry out their "transactions" on street corners, specifically targeting the youth. The obvious leader of a group of young kids whose views of right and wrong are obstructed is Benny, played by Lil Romeo. Benny is a dancer who has the most influence on the kids and a tighter relationship with Daniels.

In the film Daniels dreams of stardom in the world of dance are answered by famous music video director Michael Ellis, played by David Moscow. Casting her in a music video Daniels takes over the choreography and she is encouraged by Michael to make the transition from dancer to choreographer. But Daniels sudden success comes with a price with Michaels refusal to take no for an answer to his sexual advances and then tries to sabotage her career by blackmailing her out of the business.

In the end all conflicts are resolved and the promising youth in the Bronx are provided a dance studio made possible through a dance benefit. Personally, while the choreography by Laurieanne Gibson, who also plays Honey's nemesis in the film, and music, may be enough to grab Honey's target audience of urban adolescents, the film is extremely predictable and filled with horrible acting performances. But if you enjoy a fairy tale including all the good, the bad, the ugly, captivating choreography and catchy beats, then Honey is for you.
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Dixie (1943)
Dixie Review
6 May 2007
Dixie Historical Film Review A popular musical stage show of the early and mid 19th Century was minstrelsy. Minstrel shows a variety of comical skits in which both black as well as white people painted their faces black. The film Dixie, directed by A. Edward Sutherland was a story about the intertwining characters and their production of a Minstrel show, Though Minstrel shows content embodied racial hatred they were the first form of musical theatre that was American-born and bred. It was embraced by all colors despite its ignorant and obnoxious slander of African Americans.

Minstrelsy had an initial structure normally broken into a three act performance. A dance sequence was first on stage. Singing songs and preparing the audience for the second part which included a coordinate speech said by "Mr. Interlocutor". This pun-filled speech in Dixie was said by Mr. Cook, played by Raymond Walburn, while he was in the center of the stage. The final act in the show was a song almost like one slaves would sing while working at the plantation.

In the film the characters refer to African Americans as "darkies". To accomplish "blackface" performers would burned corks and painted their face black with the soot, and then extenuated their lips with red paint, with the objective to appear as black as possible. Minstrelsy typical distastefully portrayed African Americans as lazy and moronic people gallivanting around.

Though enjoyed by audiences of all colors minstrelsy began to lose popularity with the gain of social rights against racism. In the 1930's it was considered suitable portrayal of black America by White America, with blind bigotry. The film Dixie did not have African American's performing in the Minstrel show they were all white. But during this era that was acceptable and considered comic relief.

Despite the slander against African Americans culture and characteristics all races enjoyed the comedy of the Minstrel show. But the fact that audiences at that time did not speak up sooner concerning the physical appearance of the blackface actors and overall enacting of blacks, leaves one with a strong impression, truly displaying the horribly rude comments and acts going on in our society. However Dixie correctly followed the structure of minstrelsy and had an interesting plot, forcing the audience to quickly forget how inconsiderately racist the movie actually is. This helps us ultimately realize the awareness of whites view on black culture.
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Stormy Weather
6 May 2007
As individuals our identity is influenced by our belonging to a group or culture, and the societial forces surrounding us. The 1940's film Stormy Weather demonstartes a time period where culture greatly affects the society and stereotypical standards held by cinema. African Americans were rarely seen on film playing main characters but depicted as stereotypical roles. Musical films were popular and director Andrew L. Stone captures a complete African American cast including renowned actor, singer, dancer, and comedian Bill Robinson, also known as "Bojangles". Throughout the film Stone makes certain of the clearly present racial segregation occurring in the 1940's. One of the first scenes in which Bill revisits his service in the war, where he plays the drums for the band in a segrated army. Every social gathering including dances, midnight jam sessions and dinner dates, are all African American. I feel the directors overall view and vision in the film to be quite stereotypical. The grammar and slang used by each character is unmistakenly incorrect. He captures the level of education African Americans were exposed at that time in a particular song which tells a story of little of no education provided to them. My favorite scene takes place on the boat where Bill and his friends are singing. I enjoyed this particular scene because of all the instruments they used including, a laundry board, fire soot on the ground for taping, drumming with just sticks and a man using his voice to "fake" a trumpet noise. The fascinating comparison of higher status African Americans to lower status illustrates segregation within their own race. Character Selena Rogers, played by light skinned actress Lena Horne, is an upper class woman. Her speech is clearer and correct, her clothes of higher quality as well as the company surrounding her. Bill is of lower class wearing torn clothes broken grammar and similar friends surrounding him. The love interest between Selina and Bill is a chance to show the audience a status The dance performances including the jungle scene depict the dancer and singers as zebras dancing in a tribal like style. Bill shows his show as a "Class Act". Using top hat and a set of tails. This shows the difference between first producer Gabe Tucker and then Bill Bojangles Willimson.
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