Monday, February 21, 2011

Review-- The Turning Point

 For this week, I watched the movie, The Turning Point! This movie was nominated for a lot of Oscars, but like I say about Oscars, I almost never like the movies that the Academy picks. So, let's see how this movie does!
The story is about two women named DeeDee and Emma (played by Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft respectively). Both are friends, and both were fierce rivals in ballet. But DeeDee decides to get married and have children while Emma pursues a career in dance. Years later, two meet again as Emma's company drops by DeeDee's town. Meeting with each other again reminds the other woman of all the opportunities she's missed. Emma, out of either kindness or a longing for a daughter, semi-adopts DeeDee's daughter, Amelia. Amelia is a dancer, too. Emma helps Amelia enter the company. DeeDee is not only worried that she is losing her daughter to her rival, but also that Amelia will make the same mistakes she made. The story is of these two women and of Amelia as they morn for lost dreams and begin new ones.
DeeDee and Emma
Sometimes I really like the story...and then sometimes I find it slightly bland. Sometimes I think it's rather realistic...and then sometimes I feel they are pushing my threshold of bullshit. There are times were the script is well-written and subtle where needed...then there are times when it's pretty much layered on us. For instance, Amelia is making eyes at the Russian dancer. A LOT. It's not too subtle. Then it immediately jumps to this weird dance sequence. I guess it's supposed to be symbolic, but they don't even know each other, so it comes off as sort of a joke. So, yeah...not so subtle. Other times, it shows a great understanding of human behavior. There's this one scene where Amelia and her mother are talking. Both think the other one is mad at her for something. It's a great use of common defense mechanisms.
There was also a bit where Amelia gets drunk but goes to perform. As funny as that was, she would be booted off the corps in a heartbeat. To even let her on, when a ballerina's core strength is inebriated, is also a shocker.
Also, Amelia just casually telling her mom she's on the pill and her mom's just, "oh, good girl." I couldn't imagine anyone's mom being like that. Amelia even says that her mom's straitlaced later on, but what straitlaced mother would be saying, "oh good girl," or even having that conversation to start with?

I did like the theme of "aging out" and becoming too old to make certain decisions. It's one that doesn't come up too often, and it certainly fits the bill for this blog. They did a pretty good job about delving into passion and art, too, and how these never go away with age. They only briefly touched on how perhaps the mother is living vicariously through her daughter, and that was during an explosive argument near the end of the movie. It's actually this argument that I think is my favorite part in the movie. I liked watching the two actresses hurl insults at each other and how all the skeletons came out.

Another theme that I felt was pretty powerful was "life's short; it's okay to mess up once in awhile." The women want to help Amelia from feeling the same pain they went through, but they finally learn that she needs to grow up, too, and the only way for her to do that would be to make mistakes. 

The acting was pretty fine. Emma's actress did a great job with subtle facial expressions, though she did have the most convenient, sweet sounding hiccups. I wish mine conveniently didn't interrupt my speech making me sound like a drunken fool, too.
The daughter, Amelia, also did a great job. She was funny during the drunk scene and she did all of her own dancing, which I approve. The male Russian dancer who Amelia falls for was a phenomenal dancer, though maybe not the greatest actor. Granted, he probably didn't have enough lines for me to even judge.

Nothing much to comment on here. It's a movie from the seventies and it shows its age. And I really wished people in the 70s movies wore bras. Seriously.
Music is mostly played during the ballet sequences, which are often, or the practice sequences, also often. These are classical pieces, and I really can't say much more than that.

The camerawork seemed fine to me. There were some times where I wanted to see more of the dancers' body, but it was very rare. They did a good job covering Emma's actress' lack of dancing ability. What they showed me was satisfying enough, but not insulting to my intelligence.

Playbill effect
Near the end, there are several short acts of ballets. They would project the playbill over the beginning of each act so you could recognize which dancer is performing. I really appreciated this since once you get everyone in makeup with their hair done up, everyone looks the same.

When the Russian dancer was dancing though, (and as cool as this shot was) you could see the cameraman's shadow in the spotlight! Whoops!
Oh hi, camera crew!

Ballet Presence:
I liked the dancing a lot. I love it when actresses and actors can dance their own parts. Though the actress that played Emma didn't do her own parts, they did a pretty good job of editing her bits out. When it does come time for her ballet, she was a tad awkward, but she handled it nicely. 
 Amelia's character is a beautiful dancer. She smiles a lot when she dances, but she dances gorgeously. The Russian dancer (I think he's called Yuri?) is also AMAZING. HOLY CRAP. Just look at that air on the picture above. Yeah. He's awesome. I could watch him dance all day.

Ah... ah hem. Anyways, enough with the worshiping... The ballet company puts on several ballets. Some of them were more modern while others were the more traditional types. These traditional ballets were of Swan Lake, Giselle, and Don Quixote.

See? Quite a bit of ballet! This movie definitely has a strong focus on dancers.

Overall Enjoyment:
I'm not quite sure what to make of it. Is it a good movie? Yes. Is it a great movie that deserves all of the Oscar nominees it was nominated for? Probably not. (But there we go again with Oscars!) Would I recommend watching it? Sure! Why not! This is probably as good as dance movies are going to get. I still like The Red Shoes the best, though I have to give this movie about 6 out of 10 stars. The story was really slow moving, but I would still probably watch this again than Black Swan. Then again, both are rather bland.... oh who cares. Watch what you want. Why do should you care about my opinion anyway?

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