Posts Tagged ‘Finding Forrester’

Take The Lead” (2006)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the ballroom dance / teaching movie starring Antonio Banderas as Pierre Dulaine (the teacher), Alfre Woodard (the Principal) and Rob Brown (“Finding Forrester“), Yaya DaCosta and Dante Basco (“Blood and Bone“) as some of the “urban” high school students.
The movie follows a standard formula like “Stand And Deliver“, “Freedom Writers“, “Lean On Me” and “Coach Carter“, but with a classical ballroom dance angle – as opposed to Calculus, writing, discipline or basketball.
So, it this movie any good?  Acting?  Dance?  Music?  Is it entertaining?  Well, yes, so-so, mostly yes, mostly yes, and (ultimately) yes.  The movie is shot well so the dancing is mostly in frame and contained.  The exceptions being when there are switches to break-dance and “street” dance.  The acting by the “kids” is mostly better than the “adults”, with Banderas being the best of the adults.  Both the ballroom and the break types are entertaining and visually interesting.  The music is also cross-spectrum and pretty good to excellent.  And, despite some early reservations, I found I enjoyed the movie a lot more than I thought I would.
Two points here:  first, I love to dance, but I’m pretty bad at it.  I used to be okay at the free-form and jumping around stuff, but I lacked the timing and memory to be any good at most forms from square dancing to disco to swing.  But, I do love to watch good dancing almost as much as I like to pretend I can dance myself.  Basically, this means I had a natural inclination to enjoy this film.
Second point:  I am finding myself to be an Antonio Banderas fan.  I’ve seen him in a number of roles over the years, but I’ve mostly been unimpressed or thought, “Yeah.  He was okay in that role.”  This was different.  I’m not sure why, but Banderas sold me on this role and I felt (as predictable and formulaic as this movie was) he lifted it to an enjoyable movie level on the strength of his role.  He made it believable.
Final recommendation:  moderate to strong.  If you like this high-school teacher in the urban school genre, you will like this movie.  If you are indifferent to the genre, but like music and / or dance, you’ll like this movie.  If you have little or no knowledge or experience with ballroom dance, you will get a little appreciation for this type of dance – and that itself is good.  I found it a pleasant enough way to spend almost two hours.
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Last night I watched a really terrific movie:  “Finding Forrester“, released back in 2000, and starring Sean Connery as William Forrester and Rob Brown as Jamal Wallace.  The movie is basically a master / grasshopper movie with Connery in the Juan Sánchez Villa‑Lobos Ramirez : Yoda : Mr. Miyagi role and Brown in the Connor MacLeod : Luke Skywalker : Daniel Larusso role.  But, instead of the swords, “The Force”  and karate, the lessons are about ideas, words, writing and seeking your own path in the world.
The movie is fairly predictable in terms of story line, pace and resolution (happy ending), but it works!  Connery is masterful but Brown manages to hold his own in their joint scenes and more than hold his own when he is the focus of the scene.  The dialogue is witty and mature allowing the characters to grow in the relationship of their friendship.  One of my favorite scenes is the two of them watching “Jeopardy” and Forrester thinks Wallace doesn’t know something (the author of a work) and makes a comment, to which Wallace replies with the name and the riposte:  “I’ll take poor assumptions for $800, Alex.”
Two (of many) strong performances in a movie about seeking and finding personal growth with several brilliantly insightful comments about human nature (and writing).  Good for a laugh, several chuckles and a tear-up (if you’re a softy like me).  Highly recommended!!
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