Monday, October 16, 2006

Rize + Two More Films


Rize (2005) This critically heralded film is my top recommendation right now. What a fascinating film! The documentary (filmed by David LaChapelle, not to be confused with Dave Chappelle) focuses on the rise of “Clowning” and “Crumping,” two related dance styles that have taken hold in Los Angeles. The styles are chaotic, intense, and often violent looking, but they serve as a positive alternative to gangs and violence for the people who participate in the movement. Watch the following clip of “Crumping” to get the full picture of this style [Be forewarned: the only YouTube clip I could find has French over-dubbing, so you can’t understand the speakers in the clip- unless you know French, of course (I’m looking at YOU, Hazel.)]

And to exemplify the maxim “Truth is stranger than fiction,” please watch the following clip of “Clowning.”

Absolutely crazy. The dancing footage is great, but it’s the personal stories of the dancers that really drives this film. These people are fighting the odds and trying to make something positive from the bleak circumstances in which they find themselves. Please take the time to check this one out if you have the chance.


Kirikou and the Sorceress (1998) This is an example of the benefits of working in a library. I happened across this little film when a patron returned it while I was working the desk. The story follows a small child as he attempts to help his village escape the clutches of an evil sorceress. It is very much a folk-tale that assumes you’re willing to jump right into the story: “There was once an African village where a brilliant and clever child was born who could talk and who wanted to help save the village from a sorceress.” You just accept the set-up and run with it.

The music is by Youssou N’Dour and the animation is very good. It does a good job of creating an “fairy-tale Africa.” I was surprised at the amount of breasts and genitals that were shown (though in no way was this crude). The female characters wore no shirts and were drawn to represent all sorts of shapes and sizes of women. Kirikou himself is nude the whole film, and all the children innocently wear no cloths (which makes me think of a funny instance in REAL-world Africa where Katie looked out of the window of our train to see a group of naked boys around a water hole laughing and doing a little dance that let them “wave” at the passing train without using their hands, if you get my drift.) It’s a good little film (70 minutes) if you get the chance to see it.

Six Degrees of Separation (1993) Citing the theory that everyone on the planet is separated by no more than 6 people (the term is derived primarily from Milgram’s “small world theory” , which is also the source of “The Kevin Bacon Game”), this film was surprisingly thought-provoking. I’ve heard of this film for a decade but had never seen it before. I assumed it would be a “comedy of errors” type of movie, and it was funny, but it gets more and more serious as it progresses. I felt that the film was a little choppy, bouncing back and forth between past and present (which I assume is because if its origin as a stage play), but the acting was very good. Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing give solid performances, but kudos to Will Smith. This was one of the first films that he was in, and what a departure from his role as Fresh Prince. Check this one out as well, but be aware that there is a fair amount of strong language and sexual situations.

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