Strictly Ballroom

Because we’ve become entranced by that dance show on TV–how could they get rid of Lisa Rinna? Jerry Rice sucks!–I decided to (re)watch Strictly Ballroom. Pete swears we watched it before, but I don’t remember it. I think I might have started watching then went to bed. Because it is just that dull. I forced my way to the end this time. There’s too much love story and too much earnestness for it to be a mockumentary, but some scenes just don’t play any other way. In fact, I think the cartoonishness undermines Fran’s transformation. We’re supposed to like her, to root for her, but she’s surrounded by these women in crazy make-up with stupid hairdos–it’s too easy to come out on top. And why would anyone want to be on top of that? The more realistic stuff (the contemporary dance scenes, the Paso Doble “the dance for the man!”) just seems out of place in the garishness of the father’s story.

5 thoughts on “Strictly Ballroom

  1. Having watched only a few minutes of “Dancing with The Stars,” I found myself longing for Baz Luhrmann Strictly Ballroom, a beautifully tacky, garishly over-the-top film which I truly adore and enjoy. So I guess my response is “different strokes for different folks.” I have never once imagined Ballroom to be a mockumentary. If I compare its style to the stuff Christopher Guest and company do every other year or so (Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show) I can only conclude that this is an apples and oranges argument. Do you generally like Luhrmann’s films?

  2. I imagine it was the first Baz Luhrmann film I’d seen, and I also remember being slightly confused by what it was trying to be. Serious? Parody? Is it actually both?

    I might have even thought, “Are all current Australian films this odd?”

    14 years later, it’s now of course by far the most normal film of Luhrmann’s, yeah?

    And with Priscilla, Queen of the Desert coming out not too long afterwards, I got a really skewed idea of what was going on in Australia.

    The fact that good ole Romper Stomper also came out around the same time didn’t particularly comfort me, though I think I saw it later. I seem to remember Priscilla and Strictly Ballroom got much more mainstream attention than Romper Stomper.

  3. there’s some documentary out called “Mad Hot Ballroom” (?) about kids learning ballroom dancing. I have heard good things about it but I can’t yet bring myself to watch a film about kids learning ballroom dancing.

    and, of course, you’ve seen the previews for the Antonio Banderas movie in which he plays a teacher who miraculously wins the hearts and minds of inner city kids by teaching them ballroom dancing, the flamenco or some such shit. I am working on a script in which a shy young teacher (played perhaps by Katie Holmes, as she has expressed interest in the project) learns to connect with the members of the most bloodthirsty soldiers of an LA gang by teaching a Learning Annex course on Japanese flower arranging. At first all these young kids are like “Hey, bitch, the only leaves we like are the cocoa leaves. Oh yeah!” But then later they’re all like “Damn, I never knew flowers were so off the hook! That bonsai arrangement is whack!” They learn that emptiness speaks as much as fullness, that the space between the leaves is as important as the leaves themselves. They learn to make their cribs into soothing but dynamic environments. That shy young teacher goes on to a Bin Laden camp to teach radical Moslem fundamentalists scrap-bookmaking. Wow! Learning can transform lives.

  4. I’m with Mauer, what’s the film trying to be? If it’s not a mockumentary, why do we get those shots of the dancer’s mother sitting on the couch like a talking head complete with a label running on the bottom of the screen identifying her? (Those identifications repeat.) How else am I supposed to read that? That’s not rhetorical.

    As for Luhrmann, I didn’t hate Moulin Rouge. I sort of enjoyed it a little. And I haven’t seen Romeo + Juliette.

  5. I would probably label the film a down under, rom-com, intercultural, garish yet loving parody of a sport that is already something of a parody itself. Then again, as I watch a few minutes of ice dancing here and there (“American Idol” is my Olympics for the February Sweeps Weeks), I can’t help but wonder how much Luhrmann distorted this world to achieve his own vision (very little I imagine).

Leave a Reply