September’s song has already hit its apex, and the soft Indian Summer melodies are growing faint as the yellow-orange blaze of October looms inexorably on the edge of our yards and lives. The Tacoma Film Club is proud to screen Baz Luhrmann’s first feature film, STRICTLY BALLROOM (1992). Baz’s parents did Ballroom competitions, thus growing up around the very subject matter of his first three films. Oddly after being an actor in the early 80’s on Australian series television he made this strong transition into writing and directing films. Oddly, since 1992, he has only completed four films, the others being ROMEO + JULIET (1996), MOULIN ROUGE (2001), and AUSTRALIA (2008). His first three films, Strictly Ballroom (1992), Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Moulin Rouge! (2001), were dubbed the “Red Curtain Trilogy”, as they all fell under a particular style of filmmaking. He then changed direction and plans to make a trilogy of historical epics. The first of these was to be “Alexander the Great”, which was later dropped. He did ballroom dance as a child. His father died the first day of filming Moulin Rouge! (2001). He wanted to make a movie about Alexander The Great with Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role around the same time as Oliver Stone made his movie Alexander (2004), but this project was dropped.
Baz Luhrmann said: There’s a whole system in Hollywood where the director never speaks to the studio, but I like to engage them in a discussion. I listen. But then finally we listen to ourselves.
If you make a film full of risk, studios don’t run towards you to give you $50,000,000 in order to reinvent the post-modern musical, I can tell you. If you do manage to cajole them into doing it and you want to maintain the flag of creative freedom, you better make sure that it pays its bill.
There are successes and failures in what we’re doing, but that’s the road we’re walking down – stealing from culture all over the place to write a code so that very quickly the audience can swing from the lowest possible comedy moment to the highest possible tragedy with a bit of music in the middle.
STRICTLY BALLROOM (1992)
Directed in Australia by Baz Luhrman @ 94 minutes.
The film stars Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice, Bill Hunter, and Pat Thompson. Synopsis: A champion-caliber ballroom dancer becomes a maverick by making up too many of his own steps, defying tradition. Against all the odds, he chooses a misfit partner, and they attempt to win the Pan Pacific Championship.
This is considered one of the 15 greatest dance movies of all time.
Tagline: “There’s something in the air. It might be love–but it isn’t.”
Awards: 17 wins and 11 more nominations:
It won the “Best Foreign Film” in the Award of Youth catagory at Cannes in 1992.
It won the “Most Popular Film” Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival in 1992.
It was nominated for a Golden Globe as “Best Picture” in 1994.
Roger Ebert wrote: “The movie, which crosses Astaire and Rodgers with Mickey and Judy and adds a dash of Spinal Tap, is a comedy posing as a docudrama about competitive ballroom dancing in Australia. Everyone in the movie takes the sport, or art, with deadly seriousness.”
David Stratton of Variety wrote: “This bright, breezy and immensely likable musical comedy, a remarkably confident film debut for co-writer/director Baz Luhrmann, looks set to waltz away with a sizable box office return when it opens Down Under. Internationally, this modestly budgeted charmer should also make its mark, with festival slots definitely indicated.”
Desson Howe of the Washington Post wrote: “First of all, it’s not what you think. Sure, “Strictly Ballroom” is about dancing — specifically, the rumba. But this rousing Australian comedy is for people who hate that stuff, and for those who love it. Grabbing every backstage musical cliche by the lapels, it sends each one pirouetting, then sprawling hysterically across the floor. It’s hard not to love this kind of tribute.”
So all you musical comedy Aussie nuts out there, please join us this Friday, October 1, 2010 to see STRICTLY BALLROOM (1992). The film club will be screening it at 924 Broadway, in the Pythian Temple, street level, directly across the avenue from Theater on the Square, in the heart of Tacoma’s Theatre District. Please show up early, soon after 6 pm if you want to socialize and get a bite to eat. The Phantom Director and Farishta will provide a sumptuous re-paste for us, serving it about 6:15 pm. Please walk through the large ante-room screening center to the back area where the dining tables will be set up adjacent to the kitchen. We continue with the TFC Raffle, at one dollar per ticket, with the winners receiving first 40% of all collected revenue, or a wonderful DVD from my private collection. The raffle results and host’s introduction of the film will be done back out in the Screening Area, after we have tidied up the dining residue.
See you at the movies!