[VIDEO REVIEWS]From Chicago to Paris, across the floorNew video releases this week include two films about dancing.
SAVE THE LAST DANCE (2000)
Directed by Thomas Carter. Starring Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas, Kerry Washington and Terry Kinney.
When Sara Johnson (Stiles) leaves behind her small town for the inner city of Chicago, she also leaves memories of her mother who died in a car accident and her dreams of classical music and ballet dancing.
The plot from here is predictable. Her new life includes Roy (Kinney), her estranged father and a jazz musician, her new boyfriend Derek (Thomas), a black student who swears by hip-hop, and a new best friend, Chenille (Washington), Derek's younger sister and a declared hater of Gap clothes.
Her new friends take her on a journey of exploration about racism, music and growing up. The ride is pleasant, but superficial. The movie has the potential to delve into interracial dating, from the viewpoint of a white woman thrown into a black environment to that of a black woman watching a black guy with a chance of getting out of the 'hood dating a white person. The movie also fails to develop Roy's character, the father who is living the life that Sara is just discovering. Derek's character, caught between his gangster friends and his studies, is also quickly passed over.
But the credible acting saves the movie from being boring. Stiles has done only a few projects, topped by the teen movie "10 Things I Hate About You." But she has a confident deadpan delivery that gives her a refreshing attitude.
THE KING IS DANCING (2000)
("Wangui Chum" in Korean, "Le Roi Danse" in French)
Directed by Gerard Corbiau. Starring Benoit Magimel, Boris Terral and Tcheky Karyo.
Corbiau, a Belgium filmmaker, has an ear for music. In the Oscar-nominated "Farinelli" (1994), Corbiau depicts the life of Carlo Broschi, a castrato. In "The Music Teacher" (1988), Corbiau brings to life Joachim Dallayrac, an old opera singer who retreats to the countryside to train two proteges. "The King Is Dancing" is another visual and audio feast, this time about the Sun King's court.
King Louis XIV (Magimel) propelled himself into power with the help of a musician, Jean-Baptiste Lully (Terral), and a playwright, Moliere (Karyo). The story is told through the memories of Lully, now on his deathbed.
As a young boy, Louis is determined that French music and dance will dominate Europe, and that his name will be associated with grand theatrical works.
The old guard opposes him, but Louis slowly and surely takes power, eventually planning the fabulous Versailles.
Terral dominates the screen as the intense artist and madman Lully. Karyo turns in a gentle performance as the famous French playwright.
In French with Korean subtitles.
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