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Dance

Matt (Josh Whitehouse) is pumped for soul.

It’s 70’s Britain and in the North of England a new sub-culture is being born :  Northern Soul – where teenagers dance to the latest US Soul records. The basic dance step looks a bit like Bruce Lee’s fighting-stance, where he gracefully jigs from foot to the other. Flourishes include spins, kicks and semi-breakdance moves.

This is the era before the internet and where communcation with the US is both expensive and difficult. For this reason sometimes the kids don’t even know the names of the records they are dancing to. The DJ’s all have ‘cover-ups’ – vinyl records with their label covered up, so that other DJs can’t find out what they are.

John (Elliot James Langridge ) is an introverted school boy who secretly fancies a nurse (Antonia Thomas) he sees on the bus each day. An encounter with older Northern-Soul dancing Matt (Josh Whitehouse) starts to bring him out of himself and give him more confidence. He gets into the ‘scene’ and learns the dances. John and Matt’s dream is to start their own club-night and to earn enough money to go the States to buy all the latest records.

Thankfully this isn’t  “Step Up : Northern Soul”. It’s not a dance show-off film. John and Matt are both good but not spectacular dancers. It has a decent script and a story that takes in drug-abuse, fights, deaths of friends, euphoric highs and crushing disappointments. The soundtrack is superb and is packed full of soul dance classics. It’s probably true however that outside the context of the film many of the songs just won’t sound as good.

Negatives: Although impressively edgy for a dance film, the overall story arc is a still a little formulaic. It’s also fair to say that while good, the story does come second place to the music and authentic depiction of the Northern Soul ‘scene’.

An interesting and eventful (and privately funded) film about a subculture 70% of people will never have heard of. Worth a watch. 7/10

What the hell ??

This could be the Citizen Kane of street dance films. I will never know since I stopped watching after the first 10 minutes. The unimpressive sight of a bunch of twats dancing lamely on the tops of cars while another one of their number records it on camera put me off straight away. The fact that all this is meant to be ‘cool’ and somehow aspirational for today’s teenagers made me want to vomit violently.

I watched up to the point where the bland main male and female lead characters were introduced to each other. They then did some of the most embarrassing dancing ever. I decided to leave them to it.

A 1% chance that this is the best street dance film ever and a 99% chance that it’s shit.

1/10

The only time you would be happy to see a mad man with a gun show up and start firing indiscriminately.

Bad Points : This is shit. Imagine Step Up 2 castrated and with it’s dance sequences neutered, then throw in a couple of bland Twilight-style pretty boy male actors and a lead actress whose street-dancing skills aren’t up to scratch. Add to that zero-chemistry between the 2 main leads and you end up with a dull and lifeless sequel. Even the big dance scene at the end isn’t worth waiting for.

Extra Bad Point : The film truly sinks to a nadir when Moose (Adam Sevani) turns up late to a dance contest on his BMX, knocks over a couple of fire hydrants and one of the most embarrassing wet-dance scenes ever committed to film begins.

Good Point: The computer-controlled LEDs they wear for the final dance sequence *are* actually quite impressive.

2/10

Black Swan is as much a psychological horror as a ballet film

I was expecting this to be some kind of pump art house ballet film, but I was very wrong. Natalie Portman is superb as ballet dancer Nina who is slowly descending into insanity under the pressure of her role in a production of Swan Lake. She is only able to play the white swan part well but is too inhibited and controlled to to fully let herself go and play the wilder black swan. This pressure is further increased with the arrival of Lily (Mila Kunis) who is wild and carefree and a perfect fit for the role. The dance sequences, far from being boring are truly impressive and full of drama, emotion and energy. Excellent characterisation, hallucinations, paranoia, self-harming, and a dark side always lurking beneath the surface makes this very interesting viewing. All this builds up to the performance of the production itself and a finale where Nina’s fragile psyche finally shatters into two. You certainly shouldn’t find this boring. A very good film 8/10