Saturday, April 05, 2008

PLANET B-BOY: dynamic, eye-opening, touching

site | trailer

Saw PLANET B-BOY last night at the Kendall. It's a do-not-miss joy of a documentary about the hip-hop phenomenon known as B-boying, more familiar to the U.S. layman as breakdancing. You might've thought that breakin' disappeared around the time of the sequel of the movie of the same name, but you would be wrong. It fell out of the Soul Train and eMpTyVee spotlights after a couple years, but continued to live on, evolve, and even thrive all over the world. So much so that in 1990, a world championship Battle Of The Year was begun. 15 years later, in 2005, B-boy teams from 19 different countries converge on Germany for the competition. The filmmakers follow the members of five teams, from France, Korea, Japan, and the U.S., all the top battling dancers of their homelands, all with their own unique style, characters, and personal stories.

Featuring some amazing footage of wild and dynamic dance performances and battles, both on stage and in the streets, this movie is a great hybrid of two great documentary formulas/structures: one, the origin and evolution of a craft; and two, the story of a best-in-the-world competition. In this way it "felt" like SCRATCH meets AIR GUITAR NATION, only, y'know, on a broken-down cardboard box on the sidewalk. As in SCRATCH (I look forward to a SCRATCH + PLANET double feature at the Brattle later this year =), there's a seminal (and amazingly improbable) spark that ignites the spread of this art from the streets of New York to points all across the globe. A remarkable little thing you'll hafta learn by watching the film. =)

Out of the five crews, you get familiar with a dozen or so individual performers, and a handful of very personal stories and challenges, and the film moves easily enough from electrifying performances (to some kickass musical mixes) to these intimate, frank, funny, and touching profiles, and back. I would've liked for MORE and EXTENDED footage of the performances, but no doubt including everything would have made for at least a five hour film, and the Battle Of The Year has got their own videos to market with all that material anyhow.

Yeah, I'll be looking online for those.

We were lucky to chance upon a screening with a Q&A by the film's producer afterward, and he revealed that they had over 400 hours of footage. We were also supposed to be treated to a demo by a local B-boy group, the Floorlords, but alas, the rainy weather put the kibosh on their planned outdoor performance.

If you need a little more enticement to motivate you over to the Kendall to see this, we were told that if the weather is not so unfriendly tonight (Saturday), they will plan again to put the show on. I'm guessing it'll be after the same showtime (7.30), but if you're motivated, try calling the theater to make sure.

The movie alone is more than worth the trip. Fun to sit in a movie audience and hear genuine gasps of wonder. It's a real electric charge of a flick—do not miss it!

Keep on battlin on~

p.s. FORBIDDEN KINGDOM is coming. =)

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