'Flashdance - Special Collector's Edition'
(Jennifer Beals, Michael Nouri, Lilia Skala, et al / DVD / R / (1983) 2007 / Paramount Home Video)
Overview: Alex Owens is a female dynamo: steel worker by day, exotic dancer by night. Her dream is to get into a real dance company, though, and with encouragement from her boss/boyfriend, she may get her chance. The city of Pittsburgh co-stars. What a feeling!
DVD Verdict: This movie is one of cinema history's seminal examples of a soundtrack carrying a movie to success. "Saturday Night Fever" from a few years before is another example, but that movie could actually stand on its own. Jennifer Beals' torn neck sweater and table dancing routine aside, I don't think this one could.
I understand this movie is near and dear to the hearts of a lot of 80's children, and I will agree this is one of the all-time great soundtracks of cinema. The problem is, the movie's plot is a slow-moving, wasted opportunity.
Physically, Beals is sexy enough to keep your attention, and her portrayal of working-class girl in a man's job striving to express herself was a pretty novel idea when this movie was made. But her unsympathetic personality and mediocre acting undermine her character. Come to think of it, the acting all around is a bit weak.
But that's not the problem. The movie suffers from two fatal let-downs. The first is the plot itself. Feminism-affirming depictions aside, it's pretty simplistic, unimaginative stuff, even for a dance movie. What's worse is how slow it all moves. The drama sequences in-between dances drag on, straining your patience and sympathy for the character's plights.
The other more tragic flaw, since it is a movie about dance, is the cinematography. While it's certainly not the worst cinematography ever, (check out "the Limey" next time you want a headache.) the dance sequences look like they've been salvaged from scraps on the cutting room floor. We're supposed to be moved by Beales' character's natural talent, but for most of the movie we never get to see her do much except walk and pose in a crazy mashup of bad edits. By the time the final dance scene finally comes along, the drama of her audition performance is ruined by drawn-out, bad editing. It almost seems the judges let her into Juliard simply because she was able to stay in the air for longer than a minute.
Perhaps I'm a purist for asking for good dancing onscreen to consist of more than rapid-fire editing. But if it's a movie about dancing, one would think the least they could do is show dancing. Many movies before and after Flashdance managed to get this right ("Saturday Night Fever" certainly did, to its great success), but maybe nobody told this movie's director. It's a shame.
That all said, and please know that my words and thoughts are only my own personal opinions, but Paramount have now released this packed Special Edition DVD. Featuring a look back at Flashdance, the Choreography of the movie, and teaser trailes, etc. the edition would have hit harder if Beals herself had done an Audii Commentary or some such more personal deal. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
The History of Flashdance
The Look of Flashdance
Flashdance The Choreography
Releasing the Flashdance Phenomenon