In between watching copious amounts of football this Summer, the rest of my free time will be spent at the cinema, enjoying the luxury seats and watching the new releases. Here are my thoughts on the last two films I watched, and the cinemas I watched them in.
Streetdance 3D (Max Giwa& Dania Pasquini, 2010)
A group of inner-city youths in London, part of the dance troup Jay 2.0, are told at the start of the film that they have gotten to the streetdance finals, where if they win that, they will get to go to New York and a promising future of dance. However, immediately after this, the leader, Jay, announces he wants to take time out from dance, leaving his estranged girlfriend Carly in dhance. She is a skilled fancer but lacks the natural leadership Jay possesses, and her initial attempts at holding rehearsals go awry, especially when they lose their regular training space and can't find a suitable replacement. However, after a serendipitous encounter with eccentric ballet teacher Helena, who is impressed by Carly's vibrancy and liveliness, leads to an interesting proposal - she can train with her group in the ballet halls, if she can incooporate the ballerinas in the streetdance performance.
The mismatch between the snooty ballet performers and the earthy streetdancers is that of chalk and cheese, but that is one of the biggest charms about the film; the initial anomisity guraduates into acceptance before finally a fusion of ideas - it's like the Romeo and Juliet of dance, but with a happy ending.
The cast, needless to say, are not going to trouble the Oscar board any time soon, though they're not aided by a script that churns out a whole range of cliches that someone who's never set food in London might expect them to say. But lead Nichola Burley holds her own as the heroine well enough, and shines in all the dance montages. Charlotte Rampling has given plenty of performances 10 times the calibre of the one she gives here, but such is the strength of her acting that even in autopilot, she's nothing less than thoroughly watchable.
Of course, the reason performances and script matter so little in StreetDance 3D is due to the dancing, and oh, what dancing. Set to a killer soundtrack of familiar urban bands and artists (including "We Dance On" by N-Dubz, a song written specially for the film) and the dancing is beautiful, tidy, slick and very entertaining. Diversity, Flawless and George Sampson, all of Britain's Got Talent fame feature, and their acts are a treat. But it's the dancing from the spirited streetdance/ballet amalgamation that befounds the most. What seems like polar opposites and shouldn't go at all instead does, and so well. This is a film about dance, and the dancing makes this film. Thoroughly recommended.
I watched this film in Islington Vue, N1 with my brother Tom. The chairs were very comfy and we got great seats. The choice of trailers was a joy - watching Nike's Write The Future advert on the big-screen was as cinematic an experience as you could ask for and unlike other films I've watched in 3D, the 3Dness suited a film like StreetDance 3D. There's also a Sainsbury's and a Waitrose just outside the cinema, so me and Tom went to the former to stock up on cinema snacks at proper prices, rather than get bankrupt in the actual cinema.
Sex and the City 2 (Michael Patrick King, 2010)
Indeed, the lack of sparkle, as commented on by Carrie, is pervading its want into her and Big's marriage. Choosing not to have kids, the two know they are on their own from there on in, and the fact that they are ordering takeout two nights in a row raises alarm bells in her mind.
As Carrie and Samantha in particular of the four frequently live the high life (they are celebrities in a sense, Carrie, a writer, and Sam, a famous PR), it's a little difficult to sympathise with Carrie's so-called plight, particularly, as she herself admits, she'd spent so long running around New York trying to get Big to love her, and now that he does and they are comfortably settled, she feels ennui towards the mundane. Charlotte's story in the film, that she is finding it hard to cope with motherhood but doesn't want to voice her displeasure, is more human and believable.
The majority of the film takes place not in the Big Apple but in the glittering Abu Dhabi, wherein the women are treated to an all-expenses paid holiday. The loose racism is hard to ignore, and to be honest, it jarred rather a lot. But there's fun to be had in British actor Raza Jaffrey's endearing turn as Carrie's humble yet dashing butler, and Samantha's refusal to conform to social customs - Middle East or no Middle East - is so very Samantha.
It was around the moment Big gives Carrie a nice black diamond ring as "punishment" for her kissing Aiden (oh yeah, he pops up) that I wondered just how low Michael Patrick King had sunk. What used to be such a groundbreaking show full of loveable characters growing up and learning from their mistakes now just seemed like an 150-minute long platform for them to make new mistakes in. Had this been any other film, any other four women, I'd happily be laying into it. But, my loyalty to the SATC franchise means I'm still going to give it a semi-decent review. By all means, there are laughs to be had in many of the one-liners (most of them uttered by Kim Catrall), and Miranda and Charlotte have a great scene where they drink cocktails and share maternal woes. As for the clothes and accessories, goddamn. Between Sam's obvious yet terrific YSL earrings and Carrie's beaded bhurka, my eyes were dazzled by the sheer opulence on parade. SATC2 might now have much to say about marriage, sex or the city, but the shoe most certainly still fits.
I watched this film in Vue West End, W1. The tickets were mighty expensive, but, as this area is the cinema central in London, that was expected. I shelled out a further five quid at the Ben and Jerry's stand next to the box office, for three measley scoops of ice cream. But I was hungry, and eating overrpriced Ben and Jerry's heighted my enjoyment of the film, so, there you go.