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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Monday, May 25, 2020

entry arrow10:00 AM | The Film Meme No. 31

[31st of 100]. This movie shouldn't work. It's set in the early 1960s, in the posh Catskill enclaves for vacationing Jewish-Americans of means -- but it's a movie that cannot shake off its 1987 feels. It stars two actors of fantastic chemistry -- but who detested each other all throughout filming. The dancing, as promised, ain't that dirty -- in fact, Joel Silberg's Lambada, coming three years later, would be "dirtier." And if you have seen the episode of The Movies That Made Us on Netflix devoted to its making, its production was a mess from beginning to end. But for some reason, it worked. It became an unlikely hit, and an unlikely pop cultural fixture that we're still quoting ["Nobody puts Baby in a corner"] and remembering all these years later. I think most of the magic of this film can be attributed to its unlikely director, the late Emile Ardolino, who's mostly unremembered now but was responsible for a string of feel-good hits we've come to love, including Chances Are (1989), Three Men and a Little Lady (1990), Sister Act (1992), and The Nutcracker (1993). [He would pass on at age 50 in 1993 from AIDS complications.] He was the movie's quiet captain, with a great eye for dance [he won the Oscar for his 1983 documentary feature He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin'], and a way of handling gently all the surrounding drama of the production. He had an ability to construct a strong film from a heap of production mess with his uncanny sense of tone. All of his films have that: a light tone that just has a bit of an edge, tinged with a willingness to embrace the exuberance of performance that you could call joy. Think about these moments in his films: that final choral performance in Sister Act, that piano interlude with Robert Downey Jr. playing "After All" in Chances Are, that last dance sequence set to Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes' "(I've Had) The Time of My Life"! in this movie. "He could spot something in the moment and just go with it, and capture it," producer Linda Gottlieb would later attest to his genius. I remember watching this film in 1987 [I was 12!] in Ever Theatre, lured in by its poster of a dancing couple in a scandalous clinch -- and it felt so forbidden, and necessary, that I think this must have colored the experience of moviegoing for me in the years to come. What's the film?

For the introduction to this meme, read here.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich