Saturday, July 6, 2013

Overlooked Gems #56: Girl Walk//All Day

Grade: 81/B+

Great movie musicals are hard to come by these days. The closest thing to a musical film director we have today is Rob Marshall (currently in pre-production on Into the Woods), who proved with Chicago and the dismal Nine that he couldn’t photograph a performer or establish a cinematic rhythm to save his life. That’s why Girl Walk//All Day, the feature-length music/dance video by Jacob Krupnick, is so heartening. Funded by Kickstarter in what might be the best proof for the website’s viability- there’s no way this thing would ever find funding from a major studio. The film is not a musical in the traditional sense, as there’s no singing or dialogue, but it stands as the closest thing to a great dance-heavy musical in ages.

The plot of Girl Walk//All Day is spare: The Girl (Anne Marsen) takes a ballet class, but she doesn’t respond to the rigid rules and constrictions of the medium. Instead, she breaks out, dancing all over New York City, where she’s joined at various points by The Gentleman (Dai Omiya) and The Creep (John Doyle). The Girl is occasionally disheartened by the reactions of various New Yorkers, but her audience joins it, her spirit lifts.

Doesn’t sound like much, does it? True, the 75-minute film doesn’t have too much on its mind, but the pure exuberance of the dance, set to the sound of mix-up artist Girl Talk’s album All Day, is one of the most purely joyful film experiences in recent memory. The unruliness of the music (which mixes artists like Fugazi and the Ramones with Rihanna and Missy Elliott) and the dance fits is all about breaking boundaries. Best of all, director Krupnick knows how to edit to the rhythm of the music, and he’s smart enough to know that people come to these kinds of films to see the people dance, damn it. The hand-held digital cameras are perhaps more functional than aesthetically thrilling, but Krupnick’s attention to capturing performance shows that photographing great choreography isn’t a completely lost art. Somebody needs to get this guy a decent camera and let him direct a musical, stat.

Oh, and by the way, you watch the whole thing for free (albeit in 12 parts) on the film’s website. What are you waiting for?

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