Make Your Move: a movie review

Yes.

 

As you would know, a major mandate of Would Jess Like It is the need to introduce my readers to new experiences, and some of those experiences are GLOBAL.

What I mean by that is that I’m overseas at the moment and so this blog won’t be focused on the same old boring topics you’ve grown accustomed like “dog parks” and “snacking”. Instead, today’s post is about INTERNATIONAL CINEMATHEQUES, specifically Singaporean ones, and specifically to see a movie called Make Your Move.

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This is a movie that is so clearly up my alley that I don’t know why I didn’t see it YESTERDAY. It ticks every box known to me:

 

Dance film?

Yes.

Romeo and Juliet-style doomed romance?

Yes.

But still a happy ending because dance film?

Yes.

Saccharin hip hop anthems?

Yes.

BUT INFUSED WITH K-POP????

Oh yes sirree bob.

As you can see, this is going to be a wild ride, so you’d best put on your seatbelt.

Make Your Move, the movie.

 

Do you know who Derek Hough is?

Of course you don’t; that’s a stupid question.

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Derek Hough is a dancer on Dancing With the Stars and his sister is Juliette Hough, who is also a dancer, who dated Ryan Seacrest, and I think we’re good on the basics now.

Do you know who Bo A is?

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Well you should. I didn’t know who she was before this but now I know that she is a TALENTED LADY, who is also a TRIPLE THREAT, or more like OCTUPLE THREAT because she knows about 5 different dance genres really really well.

BoA is a massive star in Korea and Japan, and therefore it was time to introduce her to  an American audience, and what better meal ticket to drag her in on than DEREK FUCKIN’ HOUGH?

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Oh. Many other meal tickets. Ah well.

This film is well produced. There’s a shitload of Korean backers making it an indie film on a respectable budget, and the writer is a little known guy called WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE but I’m happy to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Oh alright, I guess it’s BASED on Shakespeare; the real writer is just as good though – he wrote Save the Last Dance and Step Up 35 so I know I am going to feel things in the next 2 hours.

First though, a little introduction to Singaporean cinemas. I visited Golden Village Tiong Bahru, which stocks candy bar items including popcorn, nachos and pasta. I bought none: I had notes to write.

Another thing about cinemas here is that they don’t let you waltz in any old time; there is a schedule that Lee Kuan Yew himself would be proud of. It goes like this:

  • Before the show: buy the ticket and book your seat on a laminated seating map.

 

  • Ten minutes before the show AND NOT EARLIER: the cinema is open for admission, and you know this because in the scrolling header above the entry it tells you which cinemas are open for admission. If your cinema is not on that list, then don’t try and enter it yet, you fool, or a teenager will laugh at you!

 

  • Five minutes before the show: other audience members filter in after you, so you’re no longer the only person in the cinema. They look at your notebook and they wonder if you’re a famous choreographer here on a “research trip” and you don’t let them know otherwise.

 

  • The previews start, and they are very loud, and the cinema is very cold, but I am in this for the long haul, so I deal with it. The warning to turn off our mobile phones is in the form of a Walking With Dinosaurs promo where a ringing phone pisses off a T-Rex so severely that it punches its nose through some glass and roars threateningly into the cinema. This T-Rex will now be my internal image of Singapore’s  many draconian punishments and rules. Don’t eat on the MRT or a T-Rex will kill you! Is that a durian? Do you want a stegosaurus to rape you? And so on.

So the movie starts and all we see is a buff dude with swagger wearing boots. Or wait a minute – are those TAP SHOES?

YES THEY ARE.

This man is a dancer with a capital DANCER,  and he shows us just how DANCER over the next 3 minutes where he taps the hell out of his shoes before getting interrupted by Office Buzzkill, his Parole Officer.

This guy has a Parole Officer? Meaning he went to jail? But he seems so nice! This movie already has depth. The Parole Officer warns Blonde Donny that he can’t dance out the front of that bar. His parole conditions don’t let him near no bar. But New Orleans has a bar every corner, pleads Donny! It falls on deaf ears. Justice sucks balls sometimes.

Donny hates the parole officer and I hate the parole officer. As the buzzkill skulks off, Donny says “if that PO keeps busting my chops I’m gonna swing him one day” and I don’t blame you Donny.

Anyway, suddenly Donny skips town. He’s got 6 months left on parole but he tells his friend to tell Officer Buzzkill he’s “working the pipeline” somewhere, and he’s off to Brooklyn to meet his brother Nick who runs THE BEST CLUB IN TOWN in Brooklyn.

Cue New York montage with excellent K-Pop song to accompany it. Donny arrives and gets picked up by Nick, who is actually African American!

YA-WHAAAAAA says every script writer in the room who worked on this movie? Better explain this freak occurrence at least 3 more times over the course of this film! Turns out Donny got fostered by Nick’s parents when his own folks skipped town. They’re just like brothers though. How sweet.

But here’s something Donny sure didn’t bet on: entering Brooklyn in the midst of a FIERY BOUT OF WARFARE between two previous friends who are now sworn enemies.

These two households are both alike in dignity, in that both patriarchs of both households just wanted to run successful watering holes where people can watch hotties breakdance. Something went really wrong a little while ago though, and now Kaz Capulet and Nick Montague hate each other, hard.

What went wrong is that a wormy businessman who is meant to be the “Paris” character here got between them, formed wedges between two BFFs and now he runs Kaz’s new club. We get a few insights into how to run a successful club. They include courting the bloggers, as I learn when Nick hugs a bespectacled lady and says “HEY, how’s my favourite blogger?” and then leaves her by herself again.

A bunch of boring things happen that lead to us meeting Kaz’s sister, Aya, played by superstar Bo A. Her and Donny meet at a club and it is just as powerful as the Baz Luhrman fishtank meeting scene, but imagine tap-dancing courtship thrown in as well, and Juliet in jewel-encrusted streetwear.

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TEARS.

The tap dance battle is commentated for us so we know what’s going on. And what’s going on is that “she’s met her match, ladies and gentlemen!”

It’s so beautiful.

Things start to escalate in this turf war – both families yell at each other at some empty crossroads in Brooklyn – this is not a Lena Dunham sort of Brooklyn – and there are shootings of each club’s turf so that the shooting can be filmed and uploaded onto YouTube later with a flashing red caption underneath going “DON’T GO TO THIS CLUB, THERE’S SHOOTING THERE, COME TO NICK’S CLUB INSTEAD!”

In fact, social media plays a much bigger role here than it did it ancient Verona. Whenever something important happens, we hear that it exploded on YouTube, Facebook, FourSquare and Yelp.

Talk about uncanny valley: as if anyone would believe that anyone uses Yelp.

The gang war continues despite the fact that it’s all just a very easily untangled misunderstanding, but it does allow for lines like “I know you’ve gained a lot…but how much of yourself have you given up?” and I love that line SO MUCH and I want to know if anyone has ever actually said that line in real life. If so, please let me know, so I can start doing whatever you’re doing right.

Meanwhile, Donny and Aya are falling for each other, hard. They’ve shared a few dance numbers, some powerful lyrical contemporary choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon, so you know it’s real.

 

Donny’s so pissed at his brother’s war with Kaz that he’s sleeping on the floor of a huge and beautiful abandoned church and doesn’t have any of his things with him, not even a mobile charger, and yet he can still text Aya all the time, and am I the only one who finds this irksome? If this was MY film, he’d be going “soz babes, I’m on 5%, if you’re that serious about this thing we got going, buy me a charger.”

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They finally have sex; or at least I think so. It’s very symbolical. What I mean by this is they do a dance with some very suggestive moves, and then each move starts to entail peeling pieces of clothes off each other, and this career-specific seduction made me laugh, which the other 2 people in the audience did not like.

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The next morning Donny’s brother Nick learns that Donny and Aya are getting jiggy with it, and he says crudely to Donny, “now I know why you danced like you had a hard-on” and I bellow one big hearty foghorn laugh and the others do not join me.

This is a complicated film and a lot more things happen, and some are good and some are bad, but finally Donny organises a gig for Aya’s taiko-drumming-cum-dance troupe to get the exposure they so desperately need, and they get an agent, and she gets a Visa, and he returns to New Orleans to finish his parole, but you know that these guys are going to stay together forever, distance don’t mean a thing, you don’t doubt it for a minute.  

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What makes it an even happier ending is that when they’re all joy-dancing in the final number, Donny goes to his brother Nick, all “hey man, bring out the saxophone” and Nick’s like “aw man, not the saxophone” and I’m all like “YES the SAXOPHONE!” and the next thing we see is Nick ROCKING THE SAX like he’s the reincarnation of Coltrane, and everybody DANCES.

 

Anyway the music wraps up and yay happy ending, and the credits roll for 20 seconds and then BAM, the floodlights roar on in the cinema and everyone hightails it the fuck out of there, until it’s just me and the teenager who has already once laughed at me today, and he’s cleaning the aisles and prepping the cinema for the next show, so even though I want to know how many Assistants Derek Hough required for the shoot, I leave.

 

This was a wonderful experience that I would not repeat in a hurry. Both thumbs up.