Monday, June 4, 2012

Dirty Dancing


(Emile Ardolino / 1987)

I love 1980s formalism in Hollywood cinema as a kind of neo-classical rejection of 1970s docu-realism and grime (a mode that dovetails with pop music of the period). Much of this movie moves like a 1950s (generic) musical, and even if it can't quite live up to the rigor and spectacle of such films, it survives by having its own thing going on, born of the queer anachronisms that collapse time and space without interfering with the story.

The film is entirely dependent on Jennifer Grey's ability to convey desire (if you don't believe it than the film seems hokey, but only for those who cannot move beyond the reality that cultural artifacts are dated). What is less believable, even though the sentiment feels genuine, is the film's desire to reconcile stark class differences. While the lame ending places everyone on the same humanist level (the dance floor) it softens the harsher realities that Dirty Dancing excels at conveying. But endings don't undo or negate everything that precedes them, even when they try to rationalize the status quo and bring everything back into balance.

*** I recently picked up a VCR and a stockpile of films on VHS. My intentions are to make found footage works but it will probably end up as a nostalgia machine. Stay tuned.

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