Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dancing at the Film Experience

Glenn from Stale Popcorn here to throw in two cents worth of discussion about the year 2001 per Nathaniel's request.

Last week for the year 2000 I discussed a favourite from that year that I felt had been criminally underrated. At least a lot of people have seen that movie for it to be underrated. The 2001 film that I want to shine a light on has been seen by about three people (and a goat).

If you had to ask me what profession has gotten the worst representation in the history of cinema I would probably point to stripping. Oh sure, we all love Showgirls but when paired up with Demi Moore's Striptease, the profession has never quite been the same. Throw in the absurd I Know Who Killed Me starring the ghost of Lindsay Lohan's career, the "all star" Spun and even the dead-boring (if you can believe it) Zombie Strippers and you've got a really bad sub-genre.

One of my favourite movies of 2001, however, is Dancing at the Blue Iguana. It's not great cinema by any means, but it's a fascinating film nonetheless. Principally made as an improvisational drama about the lives of five strippers in Los Angeles its main reason for existing seems to be to give three criminally underused actresses enough space to strut their stuff (in a manner of speaking). Daryl Hannah, Sandra Oh (before Grey's Anatomy stole her) and Jennifer Tilly are the three names you will know and each plays off of their perceived real-life personas. They play the ditzy blonde, smart girl and the loud vixen respectively and I can't tell you just how enjoyable it is to watch them on screen. Just thinking about this movie again makes me wonder what happened to Daryl Hannah's "comeback", Oh's non-TV career (seemingly restricted to cameos) and Jennifer Tilly period.

Sandra Oh gives a performance I rank amongst my five supporting actress finalists for 2001. Just watch as she performs a dance (to Moby's "Porcerlain", so yes it definitely was 2001, wasn't it?) in front of the boyfriend who was unaware of her career and you'll see why. The way her face becomes a literally blank wall with no feeling and expression.

The other reason why I like this movie is its representation of the city of LA. Director Michael Radford (who is currently prepping King Lear with Al Pacino) does a really great job of merging the dingy, grimey and concrete image of the city with the sunny side with its palm-tree lined streets and Melrose Place-esque apartment complexes. If anyone else has seen Dancing at the Blue Iguana then do speak up. I would be incredibly interested in hearing what you think.


Deborah said...

I DVR'ed this and lost the last minute or so, which I hate, so I never saw final resolution of the coat thing. But I found Daryl Hannah very uninteresting (as I normally do) and that brought the movie down for me. I loved, loved, LOVED Jennifer Tilly in this film. As you write about Sandra Oh, I was reminded how great she was, but Tilly stole it for me.

Michael Parsons said...

Been meaning to see this. Everyday I want a Jennifer comeback


Jennifer is terrific in this movie and Glenn is right on about Sandra Oh's big glassy faced scene.

but Deborah, I like Daryl in this. Is it because I'm an 80s kid still at heart... I've always been so fond of her.

Sam Brooks said...

Seen this and enjoyed it. Sandra Oh is as great as you say and more. Why doesn't she get more amazing movie roles?

Laika said...

Jennifer Tilly's still out there, doing great work. I saw her recently in Wallace Shawn's play 'Grasses of a Thousand Colors' in London, with Miranda Richardson. Tilly's so amazingly big - all amazonian and voluptuous, kind of overwhelming in the flesh - and she gave this amazing, huge, messy-in-a-great-way performance opposite Richardson, who is just so slim and precise and packs so much into every tiny gesture. If I wasn't an actressexual before that night...

Slayton said...

I thought Spun was... fun! Sue me.

The editing was an acquired taste but about 20mins in I completely bought into the film's zany worldview and enjoyed it from then on :D

Wayne B said...

Excellent write-up Glenn! The scene that's always stayed with me is when Daryl is giving the mysterious man a private dance. Just the look on her face at the end breaks my heart.

Also, who knew that Nico would later show up as the ever-delicious Pam from "True Blood?"