Thursday, March 27, 2008

Overlooked DVD of the month - RAZZLE DAZZLE

If Chris Guest defines the spectrum of quality for mockumentaries, then RAZZLE DAZZLE lies somewhere below THIS IS SPINAL TAP and BEST IN SHOW but somewhere above FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION. By which I mean that RAZZLE DAZZLE is a brilliantly observed, witty addition to the genre. Director Darren Ashton sends up the world of children's dance contests, and with it the wider world of pushy parents, bitchy mentors and that business we call show. Given that popular culture has become infested with reality "talent" contests - super-ego judges and glossy dance routines, this movie couldn't have come at a better time.

British actor Ben Miller is superbly under-stated and dead-pan as the kind-hearted perpetual runner-up Mr. Jonathan. He shepherds his girls through insane routines that aim to entertain, but also to instruct. From the environment to the Taliban, Mr Jonathan has a routine to prick our conscience. Mr Jonathan comes up against Miss Elizabeth, a prim dance teacher who wants to win at all costs, and pushes her girls to perfection by way of anorexia and harsh rejection. Along the way to the state finals, we'll meet a rogue's gallery of recognisable but exaggerated characters but the real stars of the film are the costume designer, choreographer and young kids who pull off such absurdly brilliant dance routines.

RAZZLE DAZZLE does better than most mockumentaries in maintaining the fiction that this is real footage that captures people unawares. But there are just one or two over-the-shoulder shots that look too posed and not enough of the through-the-blinds camera-work that made THE OFFICE so credible. Still, for sheer wit and warm-hearted enjoyment, it's hard to beat.

RAZZLE DAZZLE played Berlin 2007 and was released in Australia, New Zealand, Irealand, the UK and Norway last year. It opened in January in france. It is now available on DVD.

No comments:

Post a Comment