Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Shall We Dance |
Actors: Stanley Tucci, Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon, Lisa Ann Walter
Director: Peter Chelsom
Golden GlobeŽ winner Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez step out in a delightfully sexy comedy with a sizzling all-star cast! John Clark (Gere) is a meek workaholic who feels trapped in a dull, mind-numbing existence. But one... more »
How can you make Richard Gere just an ordinary man?
L. Quido | Tampa, FL United States | 10/31/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It was difficult, indeed, because Gere has a certain magnetism, both on and off screen, that transcends just his looks and certainly overwhelms his acting, which can be a bit stiff at times. In this movie, Gere is perfection. Of course, we make the comparison to his best role, in "Chicago", and we don't find him wanting here. As an ordinary man, in an unremarkable field of law (he writes wills for his clients), he has a daughter he loves, and a beautiful and accomplished wife (like many, too busy with mothering and career to see what he might be missing) in the incomparable Susan Sarandon.
Here she is just more than a bit player, but her appeal and her counterpoint to Gere is well cast. Gere is downcast because something is missing in his life, something that will help restore the joy. A subplot involves Sarandon hiring a detective to find out what her husband has been up to, and she has her best scenes as a sexy counterpoint to detective Devine (Richard Jenkins) that are reminiscent of her old role in the delightful "Compromising Positions"....Jenkin's assistant, Scottie, is a walking encyclopedia of literature and facts, and is ably played by Nick Cannon, who we saw last year in "Drumline"
It could have been anything that changed his life, but Gere chooses ballroom dancing. The draw is the beautiful and mysterious face he sees in the window of "Miss Mitzi's Dancing School". In that face, in that manner, the melancholy Paulina (Jennifer Lopez surprises with her elegant detachment), draws him because in her, he sees himself - certainly he is attracted by her beauty, but it is clear from the beginning that there is little in the way of romance between them; just two souls that are overwhelmed by sadness, trying to recapture some of the joy in their lives by dancing.
Miss Mitzi's is a shabby little school where Gere finds himself in a beginners' class with Bobby Cannavale (Third Watch, Oz, The Station Agent) who shows some comic chops, and the loveable Omar Benson Miller (8 Mile, Sorority Boys) who is hard not to like as a clumsy giant. Both Chick and Vern blossom under the tutelage of Miss Mitzi (Anita Gillette), who is not above a little nip of gin from her flask from time to time as she tries to cope with her "dancers". The bonding of the people in the class is the most understated message in the movie - sometimes you continue to do things because you have found a camaraderie with others who are unlikely friends.
Add some over the top comedy from one of my favorite actors, the marvelous Stanley Tucci (with a wig that needed to meet an untimely death) and Lisa Ann Walter (she's one of those actresses that always is cast comedically, and you swear you've seen her a hundred times; in reality, her best roles were rather minor, in "The Parent Trap", as the maid, and in "Bruce Almighty" as Jennifer Aniston's buddy) - both of them are passionate about the dance, and Tucci, as Link Peterson, from Gere's law firm, is trying to hide his passion in plain sight.
Timing is everything, and Director Peter Chelsom, a Brit with little exposure in this country, succeeds in building up to the dance competition, with the inevitable crash and burn scene, followed by a heart-warming conclusion where we learn that Gere has not wasted his efforts, and has truly made a difference in his life with his unusual choice of hobby.
The soundtrack for "Shall We Dance?" is a delicious mix of new and old, and I was taken by Mya's rendition of David Bowie's old chestnut "Let's Dance". High time that was remade, and a highlight of an eclectic musical background that aids the film but doesn't overwhelm the script. The choreography is stunning, both in the school and at the competition.
Give La Lopez credit for her ability to dance; whether she is dancing to Latin rhythms, completing a perfect waltz, or, in my favorite scene - teaching Gere to really feel the music in a perfect pairing that is all romance and virtually no sexual tension. Lopez is beautiful. Her costumes are perfect for her, and there is an amazing little black dress in the scene where she loses her cool and lectures Gere on what the emotions of the rhumba really are - she's gorgeous in this incarnation. Funny, in some ways she has a catalyst role, and doesn't really get involved in the humor, which is subtle and makes you smile, rather than trying to be hysterically funny, which she could never pull off.
I loved my night with "Shall We Dance?". I'll definitely buy the DVD for more viewings! I didn't see the Japanese original, nor did I try to compare it to other dance movies and find it wanting. I just purely enjoyed the storyline, the filming and the romance. You will too.
Stop comparing apples and oranges.
D. Casey | Nevada, USA | 12/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't know how many times I've read reviews of this movie that slammed it because "the Japanese version is better." No, it isn't. The Japanese version "different" and different is good. Okay, the Japanese version deals with the social stigmatism of showing off in public and ballroom dancing is one target of their uptightness. That's a great angle to tell a story from.
In the U.S., obviously, we don't have that kind of social convention. We have a totally different outlook on such things, but they can run quite parallel to the Japanese way of life. In the American version, John Clark has pretty much everything he could ask for. A beautiful wife, two great kids, a nice home and much more. And he is bored out of his skull and has no idea why. When he finds that he loves ballroom dancing and then is found out by his wife, he doesn't have to deal with the social implications of public displays as in the Japanese version, but the embarrassment and heartache of having to admit that his "perfect life" was missing something.
Though our society doesn't condemn you for wanting to dance, or more specifically, ballroom dance, you will find out how many morons there are around you that will assume that if you are a guy and you love to dance, you must be gay. Link Peterson was absolutely correct in keeping his passion secret for as long as he did and he was dead right on about the reaction that would occur if the people in the office found out about it.
So I give this film five stars just because, as a dance movie, it has great dancing. As a romance, it shows what can happen when secrets are kept and how much better off our relationships would be if we didn't try so hard to hide them. Get this movie and enjoy a good story and quit worrying so much about how Japanese society is "this" and Japanese society is "that.""
Not as good as the original, but still worth a watch
Laura Bellamy | Greensboro, NC United States | 07/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As far as remakes go, this one isn't too bad. It's hard to translate the cultural aspects, which play a major role in the original Japanese version, but they managed to recreate that part of the conflict quite nicely.
As a ballroom dancer, I was somewhat torn with this movie. There were some very obvious glaring errors in it, for anyone who knows ANYTHING about ballroom dancing. However, the story was enjoyable enough and the characters likable enough that it generally made up for it.
Richard Gere truly shines in this film. After the hit film "Chicago," it became obvious that Gere has quite a talent for dancing, and it was wonderful that he was able to further improve that particular gift in this show. Gere has an undeniable presence on the screen, which added so much to his role in "Shall We Dance." His character was charming and real, and I found myself really cheering for him. And heck, I wouldn't mind seeing him do more ballroom dancing, he really has a great feel for it! If I didn't know better, I'd say he'd been doing ballroom for much longer than it took to make this film.
Susan Sarandon was completely believable as his wife, and I liked her as much as I liked Gere. I wanted to see even more of her. I think my favorite scene with her was when she was trying to learn a little about ballroom dancing herself, secretly trying to gain understanding from a book and dancing in the bedroom just as her husband had done so covertly.
Stanley Tucci was, as always, brilliantly hilarious in his role as Gere's coworker. Playing a Latin dancer trying to hide his passion for the sport, Tucci provides a good amount of the comedy in this show. I wasn't quite expecting his role to be what it was, and he isn't the dancer that Gere is, but it's obvious he had fun with it, and that was great to watch. I thought he was perfect for that role.
While I did enjoy Jennifer Lopez's dancing, I must confess that I found her character a little too two-dimensional for my taste. She was actually one of my LEAST favorite characters in the piece, and I didn't quite buy her as a professional dancer in the flashbacks --- especially since she was dancing with one of the best standard ballroom dancers in the world, Gary McDonald. However, I did thoroughly enjoy the scene in which she taught Gere how to feel the music, using an incredible tango I had never heard before.
The music in this show is quite good. You really need good music in a dance movie, and this has an excellent soundtrack, which I dance to all the time. The tango especially is quite unique --- sort of a cross between a tango and a rumba.
The costumes are also quite impressive. Designs by Randall contributed the ballroom costumes, and in fact, I have seen a couple of those costumes in action before, at real competitions! That was a neat connection I was able to make.
The complaints I had about the movie were few, actually. My biggest problem was during the Latin competition. They spent all this time talking about the rumba --- and Gere even MENTIONS that the Novice dances are rumba and cha-cha --- and then at the actual competition, suddenly they're doing a paso doble?!? That was incredibly annoying, especially with all the build-up they had beforehand. And frankly, you will never EVER see a paso doble done at the Novice level at competition, it's always rumba and either cha-cha or samba. I was at a complete loss as to why they did that.
Other than that, there were just little things that a ballroom dancer would easily catch, and Tucci drops a competely unnecessary f-bomb.
But on the whole, this is a fun movie, and one I would recommend to most people. I would like to see Richard Gere do MORE dancing movies in future!"
The Right Ingredients, Stirred with the Wrong Spoon
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/26/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Remakes of successful movies run tremendous risks of comparisons, of rattling the cages of 'purists', of losing the original intent for the sake of making the remake look 'new'. Director Peter Chelsom appears to have all the right ingredients and the right motivation to transcribe the delightfully thoughtful Japanese original film into an American statement: he maintains the core idea of loneliness in the business of living in a big city (here, Chicago), the desire for 'something more' in the life of a successful, supposed-to-be-happy businessman (here, John Clark, a good probate lawyer who ties up people's lives and asks 'well, is there anything else?') in a good marriage to a good woman more concerned with her own career and the intricacies of raising their teenagers than communicating tenderness to her husband, a forlorn dancer-turned-teacher in private pain from a lost love affair, and various people trying to find some surrogate for happiness and subjugate that urge by settling on a diversion of Ballroom Dancing. For this film Chelsom has gathered some superb actors: Richard Gere as John Clark understands the inner disquiet he feels as his commuter train passes by the window of Miss Mitzi's Dance Class where stands Paulina (Jennifer Lopez) gazing into the emptiness that her world has become. Susan Sarandon completely inhabits her role as John's wife, so convinced that all is right with her marriage that when fellow workers discuss marital infidelity she engages the help of a detective and his able assistant (Richard Jenkins and Nick Cannon) to see if she is a possible victim. John follows an impulse and begins dance lessons at Miss Mitzi's (Mitzi is portrayed by the very talented and underused Anita Gillette) along with two other men (Bobby Cannavale of 'The Station Agent' and Omar Benson Miller) both of whom have private reasons for wanting to learn the frivolity of ballroom dancing. Also involved in the dance class are Bobbie (in a powerful cameo by Lisa Ann Walter) and Stanley Tucci (a co-worker in John's firm who is dancing in macho secret).
So why with all of this intact does this film not content itself to be an adult drama about 21st century isolation and loneliness and the need for belonging? For this viewer (who incidentally liked the film very much) the addition of slapstick (wigs for Tucci, homophobic comments ad infinitum, overplayed talent show antics, etc) lowers the beauty of an otherwise very tender story. Gere and Lopez dance beautifully and have a special relationship much like the original, but the two have so little screen time together that this important potential transition suffers: the magic goes wanting. Sarandan, Tucci, Gillette, Cannavale, Miller, Jenkins, Cannon, and especially Lisa Ann Walter just burn up the floor - they are all that good. The ending is somewhat predictable but plays out well in Chelsom's hands. Since this review is based on a preview screening there is still a chance that judicious editing can tidy up the shtick and allow this very good film to breathe as it should."