The Turning Point

November 22, 2013 at 11:48 pm | Posted in Dance Review, DVD Review, Film Review | Leave a comment
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I finally got to see this on DVD the other day and was blown away.

The movie has a strong plot and some really good ballet.

Two women meet up again after many years apart when a ballet company comes to town. Both were friends and dancers in the ‘corp’, one went onto become a principal dancer, the other opted to have children and teach in her own ballet school. Now the latter’s daughter is at an age and skill level where she could turn ‘pro’. The company offers her a tryout. The rest of the story is the rough introduction into the life of a professional dancer, and her mother and god-mother working out some of their un-resolved issues.

Interspersed is some great ballet; practically everyone who has a dancing role was a professional dancer. Only the god-mother (and principal dancer) is played by a non-dancer: Anne Bancroft. The mother is played by Shirley McClaine. And the daughter is played by Leslie Browne.The featured dancers are a list of who’s who of North American based dancers; ‘the rest’ (my apologies but that is how they are credited) of the dancers come from the American Ballet Theatre.

The movie, made in 1977, is now a ballet historical artefact. The Madame Danilova character is Alexandra Danilova (Russian Imperial Ballet School & Ballet Russe) – playing herself. There is priceless footage of Mikhail Baryshnikov dancing the solo from Le Cosaire. Other dancers featured: Lucette Aldous (a Kiwi!), Fernando Bujones, Richard Cragun, Suzanne Farrell, Marcia Haydée, Peter Martins, Marianna Tcherkassky, Clark Tippet, and Martine Van Hame.

The film clearly influence the more recent Centre Stage.

A must see if you are interested in ballet and dance.


Silver Linings Playbook

March 29, 2013 at 1:00 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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I must admit that the only reason I went to see this at the theatre, rather than wait for the DVD at the library, was because of Jennifer Lawrence. I saw her in the Hunger Games; in Winter Bone; and she won an Academy Award for this movie.

Warning: Plot elements revealed.

The film is about two people, with mental health issues, dealing with their issues, while also dealing with life. It gets a bit intense – Bradley Cooper (Pat) and Jennifer Lawrence (Tiffany) develop coping strategies, all the while getting use to each other and life in general.

It is really more of a light drama than a romantic comedy.

The movie lets Lawrence demonstrate her versatility.

It is also a dance movie! Tiffany has always wanted to enter a dance competition, but needs a partner – Pat. Cooper is quite a good mover!

Robert de Niro is Pat’s dad – a man with borderline OCD! he gives a wonderful performance.

Worth a go, but it is not a funny as you might expect.

Ella & Will

February 17, 2013 at 9:12 am | Posted in Dance Review, Musical Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I went to Anita Hutchins’ Ella & Will Friday night – part of The Wellington Fringe Festival.

Billed as a dance-theatre work, I was looking forward to a dramatic work that featured dance but in a different way to say a ballet.

At it’s heart Ella & Will is a love story: Ella is torn between will and the man in her dreams!

The continuous 2-hour long work features dance and video projection, as well as dialogue. It also featured life music – composed by double bass player Mostyn Cole.

I liked the clever movement of an assortment of boxes to create mode, create a sense of motion, and to create an amazing range of landscapes.

I also liked the pas de deux between Ella and Will – where they dance inside her skirt.

Cast (and dancers): Will Barling (Will), Anna Flaherty (Ella), Tanemahuta Gray (the man in Ella’s dreams), Sandra Normal Shaw, Aleasha Seaward, Jillian Davey, Andrew Miller, Lara Strong, and Anita Hutchins.

Script: Donna Banicevich Gera.

Black Snake Moan

September 20, 2007 at 6:00 pm | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Sep 20, 2007 by Film_Hanger

This is an American art movie: A black man chains up a young white woman to cure her of her uncontrollable sexual urges. And it all takes place in the American South. Lazarus is played by Jackson; while, Rae is played by Ricci. The film was given a R16 rating by the NZ Film Censor – there is violence, Ricci appears in a number of scenes wearing a pair of briefs, there is ‘sexual activity’, there is some ‘mildly violent sex’ (it is concensual).

It was a good film, but not entertaining in a relaxing sense – it is just too tense. The film is set in the Deep South of the United States – where African Americans are still ‘less equal’. Through most of the film, I kept asking myself “how will it end for Lazarus ?”. As the film proceeded, whenever Lazarus and Rae are together, I kept expecting some violent interruption.

the film raised some real ethical questions:

  • “Is it alright to deprive someone of their liberty, for their own good?”
  • “If one feels one can help, should one intervene?”
  • “If someone has a physiological disposition towards some physical needs, is it exploitation to assist them satisfy that need?”

The film ends well for all of the main characters, and no one dies. That is why I classify it as an American Indy movie – there is happy ending!


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