Somehow, a fourth "Step Up" film is hitting theaters this weekend (how it's not called "Step Up 4 Your Rights" is a mystery to me). Luckily, the "Step Up" movies and others of its ilk aren't the only movies that feature dancing. A few movies have managed to fit dance into their stories and become iconic as a result.
Here are five examples of great movies that can also bust a move (musicals don't count toward this list; it just wouldn't be fair).
It's not an easy task to take ballet, an art most known for its fluffy tutus and delicate spins, and make it terrifying, but that's exactly what "Black Swan" does. Darren Aronofsky's 2010 psychological thriller places viewers inside the twisting mind of Nina (an utterly terrific Natalie Portman), a young ballerina struggling with the sacrifices needed for a great performance.
It all comes to a peak when Nina takes the stage as the lead in the opening night performance of "Swan Lake." Aronofsky films the performance as though the camera is her dance partner, spinning and pirouetting with the action. Some viewers might be upset that the footwork doesn't get the focus, but Aronofsky still captures the physical and especially the mental aspects of a performance. Plus, when Portman stares her cold eyes into the crowd during her Black Swan dance, it's a more chilling and eye-popping effect than anything from a 3-D movie.
When most people watch Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction," they first marvel at his unique brand of banter â€“ and understandably so. It's brilliant, and I'm not sure Tarantino has written anything better since. But even the parts in "Pulp Fiction" without any dialogue carry the same Tarantino spark, namely the iconic and oft-imitated dance scene at Jack Rabbit Slim's.
It's hard to say exactly why the scene is so memorable, but I think the choice of actors is a large component. Travolta and Thurman are both perfect, staying cool while the audience can feel the sensual heat growing between them. Tarantino knows exactly how to build the tension so that the audience could hear a needle drop. Considering what happens to Mia later on in the night, perhaps I shouldn't be bringing up needles.
Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" became the indie sensation of 2008, grossing over $140 million and winning eight Oscars, including Best Picture. But why do we think it's so feel-good? The movie's filled with death, torture, enslaved children and tragedy, yet the quote on the poster uses phrases like "buoyant hymn to life."
Part of the answer probably belongs to Boyle's kinetic and colorful visual energy, but I think the big Bollywood-style dance scene over the end credits deserves some of the credit as well. Despite coming out of almost nowhere, the group dance number, led by reunited lovers Dev Patel and Freida Pinto, fits perfectly into the film. It's both a tribute to the Indian culture "Slumdog Millionaire" immerses the audience into, as well as a jubilant and unhindered celebration to the enduring power of love. It sounds hokey but as the cast is dancing, you can feel the joy in your bones.
"Little Miss Sunshine"
I enjoy 2006's "Little Miss Sunshine," though several years after its initial release and its absurd amount of hype, it's hard not to view it as overrated. In a year with "Children of Men," "United 93" and "Pan's Labyrinth," somehow it was the little yellow-infused indie that got a Best Picture nomination. A good reason why "Little Miss Sunshine" won over so many hearts is that it ends with its best moment: Abigail Breslin's dance for the pageant. Screenwriter Michael Arndt teases the dance throughout the entire film, and the payoff is worth it, as the dance turns into a hilarious yet heartfelt on-stage family reunion. It was a scene so great, it convinced the Academy the rest of the film was on the same par.
It was tough deciding between this and "Dirty Dancing" for the final spot on this list. When it comes down to classic '80s dance movies, though, I have to go with the Bacon-ator and 1984's "Footloose." There's just something so charming about how earnest the film is about its absolutely absurd story. Kevin Bacon's rage-filled dance-gasm through a warehouse would be hilarious if Bacon and the movie weren't so genuine about their passion for dance.
My personal favorite moment, however, is the ending when, after a massive fight outside, Bacon runs back to their makeshift prom to yell "Let's dance!" and commence the final group number to the tune of Kenny Loggins' title track. The movie leaves the big fight scene completely unresolved and hops straight into the dance number, as though the writer was tired of the story and just wanted to cut footloose already. Luckily, it's so infectious that I couldn't agree more.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by OnMilwaukee.com Staff Writers
Published Feb. 8, 2016
After over 80 years in business, Brookfield-based Grasch Foods has been sold to the Balistreri family and will soon become a Sendik's Food market.
Published Feb. 7, 2016
Madison365 presents the third in a five-part series highlighting Wisconsin residents of Latino heritage who have accomplished great things in business, education, government, media and the nonprofit sector.
Published Feb. 7, 2016
Nothing says "I love you" like romantic music, and the Florentine Opera delivers with a Valentine's Day weekend full of romantic music from opera, operetta and musical theater. It promises to be better than candy.
Published Feb. 7, 2016
At 84 years old, Richard (Dick) Larsen calls retirement his "second life." No longer running the business he founded, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service reports, Larsen now fills his time serving on the boards of several nonprofit organizations.
Published Feb. 6, 2016
Milwaukee County officials yesterday announced that the Mitchell Park Domes would be closed over the weekend due to safety concerns about falling debris.
Published Feb. 5, 2016
The West End Conservatory is the story of a burning vision shared by two Milwaukee jazz musicians with surplus talent, energy, intelligence and pure grit. But the flame almost went out early on.
Published Feb. 4, 2016
It's one of Milwaukee's most cherished and distinctive traditions: the Friday fish fry. The tradition is live and thriving in Milwaukee -- especially with the start of Lent. It's a big list, so dig in and read on.
Published Feb. 3, 2016
Saehee Chang came to the U.S. in 1981 at 12 years old. She was born in Seoul but lived in Vietnam and Nairobi, Kenya for much of her youth. That experience, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service reports, eventually inspired her to start her business, Korea Konnect, in 2009.
Published Feb. 2, 2016
Once again, the annual Milwaukee celebration of all things cinema will land on the last week of September and the first week of October, running from Thursday, Sept. 22 through Thursday, Oct. 6.
Published Feb. 1, 2016
Haven't made plans for Valentine's Day yet? Check out this guide for some ideas!