4/25/2006

MAD HOT BALLROOM

At this moment I am filled with the excitement and inspiration only a really good book or movie can elicit. I recently joined Blockbuster Onine and spent the better part of last Saturday night, combing through the various genres and picking out movies that either have been on my To See List or looked interesting and appealing enough to take a look. The hard part was ranking them as to which would come first, second, third, etc. I easily came up with 100 movies , including several documentaries and a few musical selections. I have a feeling I am going to be turning on the TV set a lot more often than I have been and it will be set on DVD, not TV.

The first on my list was MAD HOT BALLROOM. This movie experience was one of those for which you say afterwards, I laughed, I cried, I shouted out loud and I sat very still. I LOVED THIS MOVIE. It has within it elements of drama, humor, insight, and fun. What it is, is a documentary which came out in 2005 and was nominated for the 2005 National Board of Review Best Documentary, Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Documentary, and Chicago Film Critics Association Best Documentary. It should have won at least one of those. One
movie critic said, " Director Marilyn Agrelo’s “Mad Hot Ballroom” is the best documentary bar-none since 1994’s seminal basketball saga “Hoop Dreams.” These kids, at the raw age of 11 (fifth grade,) are changing in ways that they don't quite undersstand and as the reviewer says, "they are right in the middle of a growing period where it’s hard enough to look the opposite sex in the eye let alone dance with them cheek to cheek." Yet,
DANCE, DANCE DANCE they do!!!

While watching this movie you experience a kind of hopefulness that is all to often missing in most forms of media, when it comes to discussing inner-city youth. You find yourself rooting not only for the best dancers, but for those that look so cute, you just want to hug them and for those who are maybe, a little too fat or funny looking and yet there they are dancing with self-pride and great, contagious smiles that leave you, yourself, sitting in your seat smiling so broadly, you catch yourself feeling just a little self-concious (unlike the kids who are beaming with pride.) You also find yourself, if you are anything like me, sharing with the parents and teachers of these kids, what can only be called "nachas" (there is no word in English that expresses what the Yiddish can, but the best translation might be: Naches - Joy: Gratification, especially from children. ) So, you could say there were moments in this film that I was bursting with "nachas" watching these kids dancing the Merengue and the Fox Trot and the Rumba, not to mention the Tango and Swing. It was so exciting to share in the excitement, trust and joy that the teachers and principals derived from the kids. And to watch these street wise kids speaking sometimes in Spanish and broken English and at the age of 11 about sex, and relationships and marriage and education and hopes and dreams, well, you might think, "out of the mouths of babes", but that would be demeaning in this case, because these kids talked openly and frankly and honestly about things we adults wish we could say, but often can not.

So, yes, I hightly recommend that you rent this movie. In fact, you may just want to save yourself the rental fee and purchase it right from the start, because I'm fairly sure that is what you will want to do after you see it.






3 comments:

Outside the Box said...

I will certainly put it on my IMDb list of "must sees". And I might even get lucky and it will show up in Blockbuster over here. (They surprise me every now and then.)

I don't think it's anything like this film, but you reminded me of Strictly Ballroom? It's one of my favorites.

Sherril said...

Hi Robert,
So nice to see you again. Every time I see that pic I smile. Was Strictly Ballroom the Jananese movie? If so, I loved that one too. I didn't get the movie from the store. I joined the online club and can pay $10/month and rent as many movies as I want. You rent one, send it back and they give you the next one on your que. I made a list of 100 on my que and many of them were new to me. I will blog about the one I saw last night....a documentary about a group of Palestinians who take a bus trip into Israel for three days. It made me think and feel and then think some more. Anyway, thanks for the visit.
Sherril

Outside the Box said...

Strictly Ballroom is an Australian film. It's only one of a handfull of films that I've seen in the regular theater that has gotten applause at the end of it.

Put it on your list. I'm sure you'll love it. I'll try to find a few more I think you'll enjoy and get back to you with them.