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Step Up Revolution is fun, Sholem Aleichem and Vito illuminate and a Hitchcock classic for just $1

Great dance sequences plus protest and romance enliven Step Up Revolution

You know it’s a slow week when the biggest film is yet another Ben Stiller comedy. And three smaller titles dropped out, one of them, a Robert De Niro film, previewed for the media and the public but now not opening at all in Canada. Good that we have a very energetic dance film, two very good documentaries and failing those, the Olympics.

Here’s the list:

Step Up Revolution: 2 ½  stars

Vito: 4

Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness: 3 ½

Alps: 2 ½

Hitchcock’s North By Northwest: 4

The Watch: ---

 

STEP UP REVOLUTION: The story isn’t much and the acting even less. The fun here, and it is considerable, is all in spectacular visuals and dance sequences dreamt up by the choreographers and rendered in very good 3-D. We first see the dancers bouncing on and over cars in a Miami traffic jam. Later they emerge out of paintings in an art gallery while ballerinas put on a neon light show. There’s also a major dance on a dock of cargo containers. Six production numbers in all, each one bigger than the last. The one I particularly like is a protest to mock greedy property developers. The dancers wear black suits and hats and carry briefcases as they mass to disrupt the official announcement of a new project.

 

They call themselves “The Mob.” At first they’re only trying to win a big prize in a YouTube contest. Then they get politicized. A billion-dollar development is set to wipe out their funky neighborhood, and with little to explain why they want to save it, they fight back, proclaiming: “Enough with performance art. It’s time for protest art.”

Peter Gallagher, as the money man pushing the project, is an easy target. The “mob” leader works in one of his hotels and also starts romancing his daughter, who you might not be surprised to learn wants to become a dancer too. Improbable sure, but typical of the four films in the series. They’ve been coming along every two years since 2006 and making good money. Channing Tatum got his break in the first one. Fans will recognize Moose ((Adam G. Sevani) back for a third time but only in a cameo. (International Village and suburban theatres) 2 ½ out of 5      

VITO:  Legend has it that the gay pride movement started with the Stonewall Riots in New York City in 1969. This film rightly points out it took a few more events to get it going. Vito Russo, who became one of its most fervent leaders, was there watching that night, thinking this can only lead to trouble. A year later he founded the first of three groups he was associated with and started 20 years of activism and advocacy. This lively film chronicles it all.

 

He never doubted that being gay was OK and articulately said and wrote so. He hosted a cable TV show and got Lily Tomlin talking for a newspaper interview.  Later he had to mediate between various factions, notably at a 1973 gay pride rally shown in some dramatic and tense film clips. Outside the movement he’s best known as a movie buff who, in The Celluloid Closet, wrote about gays in the movies and gave lectures illustrated with more film clips. There’s a rousing montage of them here and you can decide for yourself if they all represent what he saw in them. He went on to argue that the movies actually created gay self-loathing.Tragically, he was done in by too much of the good times. He died of AIDS in 1990. This is an enlightening, up close and reverential portrait of both him and the gay community.  (Denman Theatre) 4 out of 5

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