Saturday 7 January 2006

Rize (2005) - ickleReview (HD)

David LaChapelle documentary about the LA dance craze, Krumping. It started in 1992 when Tommy the Clown began performing hip-hop dances at kids' birthday parties. From there it grew into a wider movement with kids of all ages taking refuge from the gang-banging of the streets to a cleaner, safer life in this expressive dance form. It's very raw and energetic, shaking booty from the coccyx and waving the arms about in a crazy manner. The film begins with a warning that none of this footage is speeded up. It's quite tribal and looks violent, but appears to be a drug- and voilence-free release for these kids in a tough ghetto environment. There are rival movements which grew out of Clowning: the main one being Krumping, where the dress is more hip-hop oriented and the face-paint more warrior-like. There's also strip dancing, influenced by the more sexual style of lap-dancers, which girls as young as four perform. They compete in BattleZones - large dance contests where the two groups face off against each other. It is largely a movement for black kids, but at the end we see a white guy getting involved and some Asian groups as well.

Shot by a fashion photographer, this was always going to be a beautiful movie - and it is. Some of the sequences have obviously been set up - but that don't matter because it's such a spectacle. It's inspirational how these kids have risen up to find a good, clean way to express themselves creatively. It becomes for them a way of life, a return to their roots. Halfway through the movie, there is some brilliant inter-cutting with African tribal dancing, which really hits home how much this culture of tribal rivalry and expression is in their blood and spirit. Towards the end we learn that some of them find solace in the Church and Jesus as well, even taking a toned-down version of their Krump dancing into the chapel! Clowning and Krumping provides these kids with families and role-models, which sometimes their own fucked up lives can't provide for them. It's no surprise that the Church takes advantage of this; but maybe if it wasn't for that, the movement would become more confrontational. It's influenced heavily by hip-hop, breakdancing and the competitive street-dancing seen in that video of Run-DMC vs. Jason Nevins "It's Like That".

Nugget: great movie material, almost all of it with the feel of propaganda, but it's so compelling you buy into it.

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