I do love a good dance movie. If we’re talking about sequels that are better than their predecessors, then I tend to bypass the obvious Godfather example and go straight to Step Up 2: The Streets, which despite the lack of Channing Tatum, (or Tatum Channing? I can never remember) has significantly better choreography and a central couple you can really get behind, you know? But in fact Center Stage seems to be the only dance film I actually own, which even disregarding the US spelling that my heart rebels with every beat against, doesn’t make a lot of sense. OK, Footloose is mainly tractor drag racing, Magic Mike is technically stripping, Billy Elliot makes me cry too much and if I wanted to watch someone de-skin their own finger I would be a different person entirely, Natalie Portman. But there’s Strictly Ballroom for the romance, Save the Last Dance for classic-era Julia Styles, Silver Linings Playbook for Oscar class, Singing in the Rain and Top Hat for the dancing and Dirty Dancing, ironically, for almost everything except the dancing. The fact is, Center Stage is not a good film – the script is clunky, the storyline is entirely predictable, it’s loaded with stock characters, the romance is so obvious it might as well be telegraphed with those mountain-top pyres they use in Lord of the Rings, and the majority of the cast are professional ballet dancers, and as actors… they make very good professional ballet dancers. Continue reading
Perhaps in the end, all British people want to be convinced that Hollywood stars would much rather be living in England. And not living in England like Gwennie used to before her ‘conscious uncoupling’, writing ecstatically in her scary lifestyle blog about her yoga retreats and the best way to make your own almond milk. No, we’d like to imagine they’re just like us – complaining half-heartedly about tube delays, drinking English Breakfast, putting up with twattish British men on unsatisfactory mini-breaks and popping out of a Thursday evening for sharing plates with their mates in overpriced bistros. Why bother with all those palm trees and red carpets when you could be enjoying half a pint of mild in a draughty pub somewhere?
Anyway, a long time ago (17 years! I’ll give you a moment to mourn the inevitable yet astonishing passing of time) in a galaxy far, far away (West London is basically its own universe) Gwyneth Paltrow brit-ed up like a trouper to join John Hannah in giving us that classic of the rom-com genre, Sliding Doors. Still occasionally popping up as shorthand to describe the ‘what might have been’ effect, the moral of the story appears to be that if mildly bad things happen (missing your train) you shouldn’t worry because everything will turn out pretty great in the end, at least right up until you (spoilers) die traumatically and prematurely. If mildly good things happen (catching your train), then this just means that you’ll be in blissful ignorance of the terrible things happening all around you for a while longer. No honestly, it’s a rom-com, but writing a proper plot synopsis for this one is up there with trying to explain Primer. The only thing you really need to know is that there are two Gwyneth Paltrows in this film, differentiated by their haircuts and living out two parallel existences after a significant split in their timelines (like Terry Pratchett’s ‘Trousers of Time’ theory but with more public transport). Continue reading
I’m supposed to like The Breakfast Club. Or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Pretty in Pink has its charms. I understand the connoisseur’s choice is Sixteen Candles. But I like this one best.
It is not exactly controversial to like a John Hughes film. His Wikipedia page calls him the King of Teen Movies, which (although the source remains woefully unattributed) I am not about to argue with. He made the first film I ever watched in a proper cinema (Home Alone, 1990 in the Coliseum with a packet of mint poppets). And he also made a slew of other stuff I certainly don’t associate him with (he wrote Maid in Manhattan!). But although Some Kind of Wonderful came out in 1987 during his golden era, it’s pretty much the underdog. Continue reading