Dir: Adrian Lyne, 1983. Starring: Jennifer Beals, Michael Nouri, Lilia Skala. Musicals (Dancicals).

Less standard follow-your-dreams dancical than sleek spandex-clad killing machine, the movie Flashdance is as exhilarating as it is nihilistic. Jennifer Beals has a honeyed glow and a natural, sexy charisma in the role of Alex, the hot young welder who moonlights as an exotic dancer at a Pittsburgh dive bar. Her dancing is her “art” and though I think it’s supposed to be erotic it’s really more schizo-aerobic.

The girls who dance with Alex at the club all have some kind of new wave performance art aspect to what they do and the set pieces are hilariously elaborate. One girl goes for a zany kabuki new wave effect and, well, it’s just weird.  For a movie about a dancer in the sticks hoping to make it big we don’t get much of a sense of dance as an art form revolving around the body. The dancing is really about the editing which is best described as epileptic while the film’s narrative goes forward at such a robotic, lockstep pace – with plenty of music video-like detours comparable to commercial breaks – that it’s not so much a movie that you see as one that you have done to you. In that sense, you might say it’s ahead of its time because the film provided a basic blueprint for the way Hollywood movies are made now.  The characters’ emotions are signaled with delicious Giorgio Moroder-produced instrumentals and the clichés of the basic kid with a dream story who must “risk everything” are cheerfully, mindlessly, and ferociously utilized. 

Flashdance was nominated for four Oscars including Best Cinematography (Donald Peterman), Best Film Editing (Bud S. Smith, Mulconery), and Best Music, Original Song (Michael Sembello, Dennis Matkosky) for the song "Maniac," and won for Best Music, Original Song (Giorgio Moroder, Keith Forsey, Irene Cara) for the song "Flashdance...What a Feeling."

Posted by:
Jed Leland
Jan 23, 2012 6:32pm
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