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Sunday, July 10, 2005


Posted by on July 10 at 17:00 PM

Not that the Karl Rove story isn’t important (I predict a wrist slap), but let me please be the second Stranger person to mention Rize, the new documentary by David La Chappelle (a photographer whose work I have always secretly hated) about the overlapping cultures of krumping and clown dancing in the nether regions of Central Los Angeles. As Eli Sanders’s review eloquently states, the film trots out some pretty tired redemption tropes, but the dancing is astonishing. The masterfully edited battle sequence is alone worth five times the price of admission, and is one of the most exhilarating scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie. It’s enough to distinguish the filmmaker’s otherwise predictable, Boyz ‘N The Hood-ian (right down to the randomly murdered little girl) socioeconomic perspective on the rise (if not rize) of these incredible new art forms. I’ve never been much of a believer in the art of dance

I mean, I believe it exists, but like Elvis to Public Enemy, it just never meant shit to me. Seeing the subjects of this documentarywho, in addition to their staggering physical abilities, are eloquent and sympatheticis genuinely inspirational, especially when you see how the movement's origins have as much to do with the downhill flow of cultural detritus (its three major influences are clowns, strippers, and police brutality) as with the angry desire to sublimate one's powerlessness. There's obviously a lot more to say (and the NY Times Magazine story (subscription-only) from a few weeks back said a lot of it), but the bottom line is that seeing the dancers dance (and I must confess to being a lot more interested in the krump side of the equation than the clown one, due respect to Tommy) was thrilling, and the film deserves an audience.