The Plateau of Dance: Feel The Noise (2007) - Can't Stop the Movies
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The Plateau of Dance: Feel The Noise (2007)

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The height of dance is a shakin' in this film. It's good for other reasons, but the dancing is disappointing.

Andrew COMMENTARYFirst of all, I apologize for the delay in this latest installment.  After watching two hours of Antonio Banderas smoldering the screen for two hours two weeks ago I needed a quick break in order to recuperate.  As you may understand, that much untamed sex is a bit hard for anyone to handle, even someone as immersed in the darkness of Swedish films as myself.

But it did give me a chance to rethink the way I've decided to frame this series.  At the beginning I was looking at the evolution of hip-hop dance in films and, slowly, I've started incorporating other portions of culture, both film and otherwise, were blossoming around the same time.  Of course there's the cultural storm of Tyler Perry and other like-minded forms of entertainment with Barbershop, Beauty Shop and Men of Honor.  But there's a greater sense of multicultural diversity in play with these films which is hardly seen in mainstream entertainment, let alone similarly "artistic" indie fare.

Take today's film, Feel The Noise, for example.  The basic plot is almost straight out of the theme song for Fresh Prince as Rob (Omarion, putting in his second appearance in this series) runs afoul of the local gang because he needed money to enter a rapping competition.  So after he gets into trouble he gets shuttled off to live with his father in Puerto Rico.  Now, since his father is played by that titanic yet stoic acting great Giancarlo Esposito, the movie will have some kind of authenticity to it no matter what.

I also must admit, having something of a soft spot for writers, I liked that Rob's creativity block is something of an issue for the plot.

But what we're seeing with Feel The Noise is a continuation of the kind of African-American entertainments that studios were slowly producing.  Instead of existing out on the fringes, we get a blending of Puerto Rican and American culture with more than a strong sense of family ties binding the film together.  The remainder of the plot isn't terribly interesting, but the mere fact it exists (a high concept continuation of a subgenre of dance films) is indicative of just how often "genre" or "fluff" films can really present the growth of a culture more than the award-winning counterparts.

This isn't to say Feel The Noise is trying to make any point of this kind, but messages are messages even if they're accidental.  This is how something like Paul Haggis' Crash (preaching about racism while at the same time exploiting it) for all its bluster cannot compare to a simple moment in Feel The Noise when Rob is enjoying local Puerto Rican food with friends of different shades listening to a genius blend of musical styles.  True progress isn't in the grandstanding moments of Oscar-aiming fare but in these genre pieces.

Still, I would be remiss in my writing if I didn't remind you all this is a series about modern hip-hop dance in film, not just a cultural exploration.  I have to chastise myself slightly for not starting off with a broader scope, but it's a testament to the way the cultural landscape has altered in these films there are more interesting things to talk about.  But the dancing, sadly, is by and large nonexistent in Feel The Noise.

A lot of this has to do with the nature of the plot.  Since the protagonist is a musician instead of a dancer it doesn't make as much sense to fill the screen with pops and flips aplenty.  Still, after watching some of the great moves in Rize, You Got Served and scattered portions of Take the Lead, it's disappointing to see all the great dance potential minimized to a lot of booty grooving in short skirts.

What it may be lacking in the area of dance the film makes up for in a celebration of culture.

I say potential because there is only one real dance scene in Feel The Noise, but based on this scene it's a shame they don't utilize the unique mixture present.  The dancers move into the floor and the Puerto Rican club is alive with color and texture.  When they all begin to dance it is as a circular unit and there's a delightful sense of cooperation at play.  In the films previous, a lot of the dancing is aggressive and territorial, especially in You Got Served.  Battle lines are drawn and participants edge back and forth into the others' "zone" in an attempt to get them to back down.

In Feel The Noise everyone starts in a circle and meets together in the center.  It's almost like a ballroom dance, just with a significant increase in kicking and jumping.  The normally aggressive movements become a measure of support for everyone participating.  The result is pleasing and, in some ways, a bit reassuring to watch.

The remainder of the time is filled with Rob's daddy issues and typical music movie problems (girlfriend and executive get close, Rob can't have artistic control, etc.)  Shame while the landscape is so wonderfully utilized, I wanted more dancing and it's sad they tease it so well.

It is going to be some time before modern dance films find any sort of success again, and even then it will be a fluke success instead of a good incorporation.  But surprise virtues are just as good.  It may not be as well grooving as any of the other films, but Feel The Noise proves it is certainly from healthy, forward-thinking film stock.

Next week we're back in documentary territory with Planet B-Boy and hopefully there's a little more grooving to get into.

The Schedule
October 14th – Planet B-Boy
October 21th – Stomp the Yard
October 28st – How She Move
November 4th –  B-Girl
November 11th – Make It Happen
November 18th – Step Up 2 the Streets
November 25th – Dance Flick
December 2nd – Step-Up 3D

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Feel The Noise (2007)

Directed by Alejandro Chomski.
Screenplay  by Albert Leon.
Starring Omarion and Giancarlo Esposito.

Posted by Andrew

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