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10/10
This film will make a non-dancer understand why people love to swing dance.
14 April 2017
Alive and Kicking follows a select group of swing dancers who actively participate in competition around the world. This documentary provides a snap shot of what it's like to be a competitive dancer and why the dance brings joy to so many people around the world. There are great moments in the film that let the viewer experience laughter, joy, and even sadness and empathy for the difficulties some of the dancers have been through. Overall, though, the experience as a whole is energetic and will make even a non-dancer understand why so many people love swing dancing.

A small criticism is that film's beginning and ending feel a bit abrupt, but once you jump into the stories, dance footage, and music; the viewer is swept up into a world where the most important experience is to have fun.
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2/10
Great dancing, messy plot and direction.
13 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
As a lover of Lindy Hop and movies, I found this movie to be disappointing. The dancing and choreography in this movie are top notch; however this doesn't make for a great story.

The problems with the film rests on the script and directing. The beginning of the movie is confusing. Plot points are thrown at the viewer right out of the gate without establishing the main character or why the viewer should care about this person. The last half of the movie feels the most polished, but getting to this point feels clunky and there are scenes that feel almost cringe worthy and laughably unbelievable. The entire story suffers from a lack of a set tone. Is this an underdog story? Is this a romantic comedy? Is this a computer hacking thriller? The movie tries to do all of these things. It also suffers not from a lack of an antagonist, but too many. There are four! The former co-worker, the former boss, the school principal, and the rival dance teacher. Just like the conflicting themes, these multiple antagonists try to pull the main character in multiple directions, and the movie expects you accept the main character is going to handle of these things while also falling in love.

The cast of the movie also lack a character (the ability to describe the person without describing their job, role, or outfit). The best friend is sometimes the comic relief, but doesn't really appear in the film that much. The principal of the school is somewhat successful as feeling like a real person, but feels out of place in that role. The love interest has her own arch involving preparing for a dance competition, but her relationship with her partner feels emotionally abusive, and you have to ask... why would she continue to put up with him? And being the only female main character in the movie, it obviously doesn't pass the bechdel test.

The original title of the movie was "Swing X" which makes sense after viewing the 3rd act of the film, and actually makes the plot somewhat more clever; however, because of the multiple plot lines after the resolution of the computer hacking/former co-worker plot, the rest of the movie feels unnecessary. The plot line of the main character learning to dance and falling in love seems secondary and almost unimportant compared to the nefarious actions that are resolved before the big dance number at the end. The dance number and love story should have been the climax of the movie, but by comparison to the actually climax, they just feel like extraneous screen time.

The cinematography is mostly very good; however, the framing in many close up and medium shots feels odd and sometimes claustrophobic. Tops of heads are cut off in medium shots for no reason, and I found myself catching it every time it happened on screen, similar to seeing a boom mic dropping into frame. It just takes the viewer out of the movie.

There are also several plot holes and horrible script lines that are incredibly cringe worthy. Examples include: 1) The main character applying for IT jobs and being asked to "code binary in Chinese"... If you know what binary is, you know this line doesn't make sense and is just technobabble from someone who doesn't know what it means. Considering the joke made in the movie (that many lindy hoppers are computer professionals), you would think the writer could have asked for a script edit from any one of them? 2) When the main character attends his first day of school, there is a random fire... in his classroom. No explanation as to why or the ramifications. No impact on the story other than to give the main character more time to figure out what he's going to do in the dance class. 3) The main character agreeing to help his former co-worker commit a crime (spoilers!) makes no sense, considering this antagonist throughout the movie was never friendly with the protagonist. If there had been some kind of false-friendship established, it might have been more convincing.

Overall the main reason to watch the movie is the wonderful dancing that appears sporadically throughout the film, and great music from artists Carsie Blanton and Michael Gamble.
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