Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

20 May 2008

Flashdance, dir. Adrian Lyne (1983)

STEVE says:
Once again Pop Culture has led me down a dark alley, tempting me with promises of pretty things, only to beat the shit out of me and take my wallet.


NIKKI says:
I still have my wallet, but I'm starting to doubt my memory.

Flashdance has never been one of those dance films I revisit constantly. It's not a Footloose or a Dirty Dancing, or even a Fame. This, I thought, wasn't because I didn't like it, but because I didn't have it. It was never on TV late at night for me to tape and watch until the tape could take it no more. (I was so afraid my Dirty Dancing tape was broken that I recorded the movie onto cassette tape and transcribed the screenplay -- the hard copy of which I recently stumbled across in a box of LPs).

Still, I've always held the movie in relatively high regard. I bought it the first chance I got, and was more than thrilled to do so. And then we watched it...

My god, has it been that long? If I really think about it, I probably haven't seen the movie in 16 years. I remember watching it with two friends I only hung out with until Year 8. I have no real memory of it after that. My Year 8 self thought it was great. Now, though, the Adrian Lyne veil of smut and misogyny drips all over every frame and I just want to kick everyone in the Special Features who refer to the movie as a girl's empowerment piece.

It's not a girl power movie if a girl has a man's job and wants to dance. It's not a girl power movie if she sleeps with her boss (she's 18 and he's pushing 40) and acts like a child every time the relationship becomes too adult for her. It's not a girl power movie when the boss has to save her all the time. It's certainly no girl power message when she only decides to go back to the ballet school not out of a desire to take her passion and make it happen, but because her old friend who was in the Follies and told her to follow her dream finally kicks the bucket.

Alex doesn't dance her way to success here, she stumbles and falls and is guided towards her goals by everyone around her. And don't even get me started on the outrageous stereotyping going on with the friends and bit-players here. Check this out: Alex and her friends are working out in a gym that's got all white walls and looks like Olivia's Physical video (lots of crotch close-ups). They're all bitching and moaning about guys who won't call (because that's what girls do). The black girl, with a name I don't think we ever heard, says in response to all the bitching: "Man, am I glad I'm not a honkey".


So, you see where we are. The film's other major issue is its structure, which is terribly off. The first half is just a bunch of stuff that happens intercut with dancing scenes. I'm really shocked, too, that the famous running-in-place work-out scene to "Maniac" came so early (and, weirdly, abruptly stops, so much so that Michael Sembello is mid-lyric and Alex mid-hop when the film jumps to Alex on her bike). In dance movies, the big dance scene is supposed to break tension, reveal to us the main character's true self through dance (a la Ren's punch-dancing moment of zen when he decides to take on the Bomont anti-pop establishment). Come on, do these people know nothing?

And then there's the sex. Oh my god. Now, I love Adrian Lyne for one reason: Foxes. One of my all-time favourite films, and one of the most inspirational as far my formative years go. (I tried so hard to be Annie, felt more like Madge, ended up just like Jeanie -- but, strangely, didn't end up kissing Scott Baio at the disco as obviously planned.) But, oh the sleaze. "Ain't you two a couple of cunts," one character says. And there's just so many crutch-shots that I'm starting to get the significance of the word "flash" in the title.

When did this movie become so adult?

Anyway... the music is still great, and the dancing is awesome. But though it claims to the movie that inspired a generation, it really isn't inspirational at all. Make things happen? Alex only really does that when her boyfriend tells her to and everyone else around her dies or fails miserably at their own dream. You go, girl!


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