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Monday Movie Meme – Let’s Dance!

After a few weeks off, the Monday Movie Meme returns with a theme inspired by the Sundance Selects documentary about famed ballerina Misty Copeland, screening at New York’s Urbanworld Film Festival Saturday, September 26 at 8:30pm: Let’s Dance!

Share on your blog or in the comments section, films with characters who strive for a top spot on the dance floor. Whether they are amateurs or trained performers, these girls and boys are serious about getting jiggy.

Here are my selections for this week’s Let’s Dance! theme.

Save the Last Dance

Upon relocating to Chicago, an aspiring ballet dancer learns new dance moves that help her gain the confidence to audition for Julliard in this romantic drama starring Julia Stiles, Kerry Washington and Sean Patrick Thomas.

Black Swan

A ballerina goes crazy when she starts getting in touch with her dark side to keep the lead role in an upcoming production of “Swan Lake,” in this thriller starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Winona Ryder.

You Got Served

Two best friends turn on each other at the expense of their entire team while trying to win money from street dancing competitions, in this musical drama starring Omarion, Marques Houston, Jennifer Freeman and Meagan Good.


When blackballed from the industry, a music video choreographer has to find alternative means to open her dance studio for teaching disadvantaged and at-risk youth, in this romantic drama starring Jessica Alba, Mekhi Phifer and Joy Bryant. Although we all know Honey – which I saw on television -- is not the best movie out there, it did well at the box-office, and so I know I’m not the only one who watched this movie.


What movies have YOU watched featuring characters that perform elaborate dance moves?


Podcasting with the LAMBs – Why You Should Vote ‘THEM’ for Movie of the Month! 

'Aloha' starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams.I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on two consecutive episodes of The LAMBcast. This movie podcast features cinephiles who discuss what makes us angry, happy or indifferent about what’s playing (or not) at a theater near you.

In episode #285 - Whatcha Been Watchin’ Lately - hosted by Jay Cluitt at Life vs. Film, I joined Daniel Lackey of The Nightmare Gallery, Will Slater from Exploding Helicopter and French Toast Sunday’s Nick Rehak to talk about movies in the sci-fi, comedy,  and spy thriller genres. In addition to playing a few games of “Last Lamb Standing,” we deliberated on whether LGBT movies will ever get their fair share of wide releasing beyond the film festival circuit.

Jay also hosted episode #286 which involved a pub crawl in the sleepy town of New Haven, as we discussed September’s Movie of the Month – The World’s End, about five friends who end up being mankind’s only hope for survival when they try to complete an epic bar hopping adventure. Here, I joined Bubbawheat at Flights, Tights and Movie Nights along with Justin Gott and Pete Conway from Man, I Love Films to dive into this sci-fi comedy directed by Edgar Wright.

Now the time has come to vote on next month’s movie! For the month of October, most of the LAMBcast shows will be devoted to the horror genre, and as such we're having a horror-special Movie of the Month (MOTM)! Jay’s call for MOTM champions brought in nominations for 15 films including one that I entered into the poll for October's Movie of the Month – Them.

The original French movie poster for 'Them.'Written and Directed by David Moreau and Xavier Palud, Them is a 2006 French-Romanian horror film about a schoolteacher named Clémentine who, along with her husband Lucas, encounter strange events late one night in their country home. A few unfamiliar noises lead to this couple being terrorized by a group of hooded assailants. Maybe it’s simply kids from the school where Clémentine teaches or maybe it could have something to do with a mother and daughter who mysteriously vanished the day before.

While I made a brief case for Them in LAMBcast Episode #286, here are a few more reasons why you should VOTE for this to be October’s Movie of the Month:

Foreign Horror is a different kind of animal. Them is not your straight up, chase-them down and then chop-them-up kind of horror movie. It contains minimal dialogue and does not rely on special sound effects to get a rise out of viewers or imply how you’re supposed to respond in relation to the scenes. It’s not so much drenched in the type of blood, screams and gore that a lot of American horror films (and their audiences) feed on.

Them takes subtle fears…the kind that creeps up on you – whether consciously or subconsciously and makes the tiny hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and exploits those fears in a way that has you desperately wanting to figure out what the hell is going on….before it’s too late. The movie has the kind of horror that plays with your head and just when you think things might take a turn for the better, something (or rather, someone) else comes along with a different idea in mind that puts the main characters in a horrible situation – yet again.

You’re doomed if you stay. You’re doomed if you go. While Them can be easily summed up as a home invasion movie, it does take viewers for a ride outside of the confines of Clémentine and Lucas’ living space.

From an audience point of view, I consider this to be a good thing because films with plots involving home invasions of some kind usually lack elements that separate them from other movies. Someone is trapped in a house while trying to get out themselves, or send trespassers away or keep intruders from entering the dwelling. Either way the cookie crumbles, most of the action revolves around one building. New characters don’t even get introduced until the climax and if not, then at the end of the movie.

Them does not keep everyone (generally) in one place – the couple’s house -- during this film. Still, that does not mean Lucas and Clémentine’s chances of survival are greater outside of their home. That’s one of the things that makes this movie such a rollercoaster ride of suspense and terror because while you don’t know what’s coming next, it sets you up to feel like it can’t be anything good.

If you liked the Austrian psychological thriller Funny Games (or even it’s 2007 remake starring Naomi Watts), written and directed by Michael Haneke, about a family terrorized by intruders, then chances are you’ll like Them. Both movies share that creepy vibe that you get when in the company of sociopaths (whether budding or full-blown) who are up to no good.

The American version Key Art for 'Them.'Children are troublemakers with too much time on their hands. This movie has what it takes to either remind you why you don't like pranks or bring any suppressed cynicism you have about younger generations to the surface.

If Them wins the poll, a Lambcast show will be devoted to it. The show is recording on Sunday 11th October, currently at 9am Pacific/5pm GMT, but the time can change if necessary. Should my film selection win, I would be guaranteed a spot on that LAMBcast episode where we will discuss Them. As a bonus, I also get the option of hosting that segment of the show.

The film is listed in the poll over at the bottom of the blog post for LAMBcast Episode #286 and the poll is also located in the sidebar of the LAMB website. You have one week to vote and help me claim a spot on this movie podcast to champion foreign films in the horror genre. VOTE for THEM!

When was the last time YOU watched a scary movie?

Will YOU vote for THEM?

What kind of candy do YOU give trick-or-treaters for Halloween?

*The movie podcast referred to in this post is on iTunes – just do a search for “LAMBcast.” A link to the show is also posted on the LAMBcast’s Facebook page if you’d like to listen online. The LAMBcast loves feedback, too – if you’d like yours read on a future show, leave it in the comments section at the LAMB. Finally, we would love an iTunes review, even if it’s a bad one. Thanks for listening!


Muhammad Ali, Mexican Culture and Murder Mysteries Headline Urbanworld's 2015 Film Slate

"Carmín Tropical" is among the movies playing in the Narrative Feature Film competition at Urbanworld 2015.Muhammad Ali: The People’s Champ, a biographical tribute to the former heavyweight boxing champion will serve as the opening night film at the 19th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival, presented by BET Networks (BET) with founding sponsor HBO.

Directed and executive produced by Clarence “Coodie” Simmons and Chike Ozah, this documentary features exclusive interviews with a who’s who of the sports and entertainment world including Muhammad Ali’s daughter Laila Ali, Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard. “We are excited to launch BET's original news documentary series with the film,” says Constance Orlando, Senior Vice President of Music, Specials and News for BET Networks. Muhammad Ali: The People’s Champ connects the fighter’s boxing prowess as well as his social media activism, to the millennial audience to reveal Ali’s meaning in the world today. It also headlines a fierce program lineup as Urbanworld, the nation’s largest competitive multicultural film festival, announces its 2015 slate.

The festival will screen over 80 films September 23-27, 2015 at Manhattan's AMC Empire 25 on 234 West 42nd Street in New York. An underlying quest for victory is the name of the game, as Urbanworld showcases stories about people fighting for redemption in one way or another. In the psychological drama Carmín Tropical, a transgender woman named Mabel returns to her hometown to investigate the murder of her friend Daniela. Directed by Mexican filmmaker Rigoberto Perezcano, this narrative feature explores gender and culture while taking the main character on a journey of revisiting the life she left behind in a town plagued with senseless violence, homophobia and intolerance.

"In Football We Trust" is among the select documentaries in the 2015 Urbanworld lineup.Urbanworld’s documentary lineup features the New York Premiere of In Football We Trust, about four young Polynesian athletes struggling to overcome gang violence, family pressures and near poverty as they enter the high stakes world of college recruiting and the promise of professional sports. Directed by first-time filmmakers Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn, the movie explores how professional sports play a role in the “American Dream” phenomenon that fascinates our society.

“I believe In Football We Trust will illuminate how our country’s infatuation with chasing the ‘American Dream’ can often leave people entrenched in the very conditions they are striving to overcome,” says Cohn. Famed wrestler and Hollywood actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson mentioned the film is close to his heart and also helped produce it.

The documentary 3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets is among the Spotlight selections at Urbanworld. Directed by Marc Silver, it follows the journey of unraveling the truth behind Michael Dunn’s claim of self-defense in a shooting that led to the death of 17 year-old Jordan Davis. In what IndieWire calls “A harrowing exploration of criminal justice gone awry,” 3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets reconstructs the night of the incident and reveals how hidden racial prejudice can result in tragedy. Forgiving Chris Brown joins the narrative short films that are in abundance at this year’s Urbanworld film festival. Directed by Marquette Jones, this dark comedy about a group of heartbroken friends who unite over plans to get revenge on their boyfriends, is set in the hot desert.

Performing arts also takes center stage as A Ballerina’s Tale, a documentary focusing on a crucial period in the career of principal dancer Misty Copeland, is slated to close the festival. Directed by Nelson George, the movie examines issues of race and body image in the elite ballet.

Following Misty’s triumphant lead performance in Igor Stravinsky's Firebird at New York's Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, through her painful injury and recovery that followed, to her return to ABT and subsequent pop star status, A Ballerina's Tale  is the story of how great talent and a powerful will combined can open doors within a very cloistered world.

What are YOU watching this weekend?