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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English
  Extras
  • Animated menus

Dancing in September (Rental)

Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 103 mins . MA15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

How can a film about television shows and corporate networks be rated MA for violence? Well itís easy actually, but this reviewer canít say why because it gives away one key scene. But what about the coarse language, and the heavy use of adult themes that usually accompany this Medium Level Violence Ė where are they on the classification? If youíre after a light romantic comedy about television networks check out the airhead department, as this is anything from light, romantic or funny. OK, there are threads of romance and a laugh or two, but please donít think that this is the filmís point. Rather than a bimbo approach to the subject, this film subtly deals with serious issues about selling out, fame, fortune and integrity Ė common threads amongst the population that are very rarely dealt with in mainstream cinema. And yes, I know I canít classify a telemovie as Ďcinemaí, but it fits with what I mean, so back off. Just kiddiní!

Now rather than some blonde big-breasted girl prancing around the sets next to a surfboard-stomach-wearing, bleach-blonde jock we have a respectable, idealistic female lead played by a fantastic Nicole Ari Parker. Alongside her is the equally talented Isaiah Washington, and to take the cake the junior role is a powerful performance from Vicellous Reon Shannon. Rather than a complex twisty plot, Dancing in September provides a straight-forward one with simple ideas, but it deals with them thoroughly and sincerely. What happens in the lives of these people is enlightening, challenging, violent and just to add to the mood, dire. The climax to the film isnít terribly predictable and it just suddenly, and violently, unfolds on-screen before you get the chance to know what is happening.

Dancing in September opens with Tomasina (Parker), a script editor of a popular TV show. But her opinions on the script separate her away from the mainstream shallowness of business. So now on her own, she has an idea for a show that she pitches to the new TV network, where George Washington (Washington) is the head of development. And yes, the two simplistically fall for each other. Normally this would be means for complaint, but as the love is skimmed over it allows more depth to be discovered with the remainder of the film. So Tomasina writes a pilot for Just Us and now faces the challenges of casting. In comes James (Shannon), who Tomasina brings in from the street after all the African-American talent in Los Angeles has been through the casting process. And predictably he is perfect for the role and able to memorise a three minute scene in seconds. But what follows on is up to the film to tell, dealing with the powers of fame, jealousy and love, all tested by the power of showbusiness.

  Video
Contract

The video is presented in the 16:9-enhanced aspect of 1.78:1, the widescreen television aspect. For a presentation made for television, this really does hold up quite well, boasting some really nice elements, especially given these production values.

Colours are lifelike, luminescent and full-on, especially during the sitcom segments, as any sitcom is meant to look! No colour bleeding effects occur at all, and the mastering leaves solid blacks. However, one or two scenes are just too damn dark. Notably the emotional climax between Tomasina and George, set at night in a dark house, just lacks shadow definition and rather than a person talking we have a faceless blob. But for the brighter scenes, where shadow detail isnít of paramount importance, things look fine.

Film grain is an issue barely worth mentioning - it's that fine. Likewise with film artefacts Ė it sometimes makes you wonder whether it is from a digital source. The odd black speck skims past, but it is really, really rare. Compression-related artefacts are non-existent, even though the 103 minute movie fits neatly onto a single layered disc. Subtitles in English have been included, and are clear to read and nearly word-for-word perfect. The odd case of moire can be seen, but if you want to find it, mute the sound and concentrate because youíll sure need it to find a major fault with this transfer.

  Audio
Contract

The Dolby Digital 2.0 English soundtrack, not surround-encoded, is sufficient for the subject matter, but still lacking the punch of a full-on surround assault. Imagine what a pumpiní subwoofer could do for some of the hip hop tunes! But anyway, dialogue is audible throughout the film, with absolutely no synch issues whatsoever. As for bass levels, they are quite high and sound fairly decent as they pulsate from the front left and right channels. Music tracks scatter the film, and are performed by Earth, Wind and Fire, Camara Kambon, Angie Stone and DíAngelo. Not your usual Top 40 tracklisting, but more of an R&B hip hop feel, suiting the tone of the film so well. As you may have guessed, there is no surround action, nor discrete subwoofer effects. But one odd thing, everyone knows that the Dolby tags advertise the six channels in the soundstage, right? Well why does a stereo film get a six-channel Dolby tag?

  Extras
Contract

Sorry, scene selections donít count. Neither do 16:9-enhanced menus, but they're at least a start.

  Overall  
Contract

For a dozy nightís entertainment where you are pushed for something to watch, donít walk past this one. It may not be a blockbuster, and it may not be terribly popular, but it really hits the nail on the head. Its simplicity in the story enables Dancing in Septmeber to make a strong point, and an important one at that. The video transfer is remarkable, as we expect from Roadshow, and the audio is ample for the film, lacking the surround ambience and subwoofer aggressiveness. Extras, donít go there sister. But do go somewhere near this disc, it should keep you enthralled from start to finish.


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      And I quote...
    "The world of network television meets the shiny disc..."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Philips DVD 736K
    • TV:
          TEAC EU68-ST
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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