Will You Dance With Me?

Not rated yet!
Director
Derek Jarman
Runtime
1 h 18 min
Release Date
22 March 2014
Genres
Overview
Derek Jarman’s Will You Dance with Me? is an essential document of LGBTQ London that was unseen until 2014, 30 years after it was originally shot. In September 1984, Jarman was invited by director Ron Peck and writer Mark Ayres to record improvisations at Benjy’s, a gay club in East London’s Mile End district, as part of the early experimental work for their feature film Empire State, a neo-noir that would be released in 1987. The coed, racially diverse crowd of roughly 100 people at Benjiy’s that night included club regulars, bar staff, and potential players in Empire State. Every single detail captured in Jarman’s on-location assignment abounds with era-specific riches: from the New Romantic cutie journaling while nestled in a corner booth to the DJ’s cheerful exhortations and the songs he spins (“Let the Music Play,” “Planet Rock,” “Relax").
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Armond White4
The National Review / OUT



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Will You Dance With Me? Shows Disco's Social Seduction
    Armond WhiteMoviesdance Of all Derek Jarman’s film experiments in the 1980s that questioned storytelling and film-watching conventions, the most exuberant is Will You Dance With Me? This unfinished project, made in 1984 but never exhibited until now, documents a night at Benjy’s, a gay club in East London. Jarman’s goal was reportorial—to investigate, witness and reveal an aspect of gay nightlife—but he captured a fleeting yet timeless and fundamental essence of the culture. Using an Olympus VHS camcorder, Jarman’s hand-held style produced a rough-looking home movie of gay folks socializing, drinking, smoking, and dancing. There’s a personal direct link between what Jarman was looking at through his viewfinder and what we see. So when the camera swings, circles or closes-in, the image sometimes blurs into abstract forms or else frames a face or a dance routine. A real, existential moment is made permanent. It’s both art and history. One formal device Jarman uses, called a “swish-pan,” is a perfect technique that combines a fast-paced camera shift with an epithet for effeminate body movement. Jarman co-opts the mechanical process and redeems the slur. His boldness parallels the significance of Disco so that Will You Dance With Me? transfers facts of cultural progress into a defense of cultural habit. Despite Jarman’s many explorations of film style and narrative processes (Sebastian, The Garden, Caravaggio, War Requiem, The Queen is Dead, The Last of England) this turns out to be his most gay-liberating movie of all. Jarman was commissioned by filmmaker Ron Peck (Nighthawks) to produce research footage for a project titled Empire State but wound up creating his own artifact of gay culture. Like the pub sings in Terence Davies movies, this panorama of social customs is based on the importance of popular music. It recalls a non-porn version of A Night at the Adonis and especially Fred Halstead’s A Night at Halsted’s (1980) which had featured a classic soundtrack of New Wave and punk classics. The disco tunes played at Benjys provide a comparable hit parade: Break Machine’s “Break Dance Party,” Shannon’s “Let the Music Play,” Jocelyn Brown’s “Somebody Else’s Guy,” Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock,” Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Two Tribes,” Evelyn Thomas’ “High Energy,” and The Pointer Sisters’ “Jump.” This is also a catalog of 80s pop and sexual taste. Jarman shows how Disco permitted social rituals as well as mating rituals among Benjy’s mix-gender clientele. It is wonderful to watch the joy of social dancing—even when a person can’t dance “aesthetically”—freeing the body and rejoicing. You don’t always see that on TV’s “Soul Train” but it happens here. Thomas and the Pointer Sisters provide the propulsive highpoints but there is special significance to FGTH’s “Relax” rousing the crowd. That hit, calling for personal liberation from social stigma and sexual tension, was a British phenomenon in 1984, speaking to white Britons the way R. Kelly’s “Step in the Name of Love” would speak to black Americans almost 20 years later—as a unifying anthem. “Relax” articulates Jarman’s own intent to advance gay cultural and social consciousness. The dancefloor context of Will You Dance With Me? also liberates Jarman’s usually esoteric work. He is “Relax”ed from art-itis. His p.o.v. camera lights upon a ginger-haired lad wearing a red and white varsity jacket. Jarman is infatuated by his smile and neck (“Are you filming me?” he asks). Cute without being particularly handsome, he’s a perfectly banal boyish love object so the camera circles and caresses him—dances with him. This is a peak of Jarman’s filmmaking career like Tilda Swinton’s wedding dress paroxysm in The Last of England. It’s as if this boy was indeed the last of England. Will You Dance With Me? survives to commemorate a moment of gay solidarity just before the ravages of AIDS. It’s a portrait of Disco’s unco-opted community, the only kind of “community” that counts. Will You Dance With Me? plays at New York’s Metrograph theater through August 11. ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • The Twelfth Annual Better-Than List
    (”Will You Dance With Me?” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    A critical review of the year’s best and worst films It’s no accident that the very best movies of 2016 challenged the mainstream and were not from Hollywood. Too many American filmmakers have lost the ability to look at human experience without cheapening our responses to it. Our most urgent issues as human beings, and our most sensitive needs as people who think and feel, are betrayed by a culture committed to childish escapism produced to shore up fatuous, fashionable tenets — which then get endorsed by media shills. The year’s Better-Than List has expanded because film culture has exploded beyond homogenous tastes and interests; multimedia competition has only exacerbated our fragmentation. But the point of the Better-Than List is always to inspire critical thinking and encourage personal response against the conformist hive-mind that aims to tame our diverse tastes. The best movies reward cultural courage, making it easier to reject the garbage. The President > Southside with You Mohsen Mahkmalbaf’s epic parable about modern-day revolution in a country resembling Iran offers unexpected insight into the effects of despotism on a ruler and his subjects. Makhmalbaf’s insistence on shared humanity — a leader’s obligation to forgive his public and vice versa — furnishes the humanist critique that American media have avoided for the past eight years. Richard Tanne, instead, dished up another fatuous Obama-origin myth for political sycophants. Being 17 > Moonlight André Téchiné’s exhilarating observation of French and Algerian teens in love anticipates New Europe’s complicated future; Barry Jenkins reduced the black gay American protagonist in his movie to an identity-politics martyr. A humane, visionary work vs. condescending, politically correct propaganda. Sunset Song > Manchester by the Sea Terence Davies’s deeply empathetic Scottish drama (from Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s novel) finds national and ethnic awareness in a woman’s life struggle, while Kenneth Lonergan’s male weepie forgoes empathy for melodramatic clichés that never rise above self-pity. (function($){ var swapArticleBodyPullAd = function() { if ($('body').hasClass('node-type-articles')) { var $pullAd = $('.story-container .pullad').addClass('mobile-position'); if (window.matchMedia("(min-width: 640px)").matches) { if ($pullAd.hasClass('mobile-position')) { $pullAd .addClass('desktop-position') .insertBefore('.article-ad-desktop-position'); } } else { if ($pullAd.hasClass('mobile-position')) { $pullAd .addClass('mobile-position') .insertBefore('.article-ad-mobile-position'); } } } }; $(window).on('resize', function(){ swapArticleBodyPullAd(); }).resize(); })(jQuery); Wiener-Dog > The Lobster Todd Solondz’s symbolic dachshund traverses three tales of human will, observing fragmentation nationwide with breathtaking boldness and humor; Yorgos Lanthimos’s self-congratulatory Kubrick-derivative nihilism mocks civilization. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk > La La Land Ang Lee’s moving 3-D vision of post-9/11 stress shows Americans loving one another as citizens and as soul mates — unlike Damien Chazelle’s childish ode to showbiz vanity. Lee transcends genre to remind Americans of what connects them; Chazelle distorts genre into idiotic escapism then deadens it. Beautiful Something > Moonlight Joseph Graham’s intimate, multi-character cityscape follows the spiritual journey of several Philadelphia gay men, while Moonlight (yes, that con job again) exploits “minority” status to sentimentalize victimization. The personal vs. the pseudo-political. Batman v Superman > Deadpool Zack Snyder continues to find depth in pop myths, making comic-book archetypes reveal our souls. But Tim Miller’s Edgar Wright–lite comic-book sarcasm defies and denies serious fun. Hacksaw Ridge, Knight of Cups, Voyage of Time > Silence Mel Gibson professes faith the difficult way, by defending a conscientious objector’s war experience. Terrence Malick searches for faith in Hollywood (fiction) and throughout history (nonfiction). But Martin Scorsese’s latest protracted remake replaces their conviction and originality with a lapse of cinematic faith. Eisenstein in Guanajuato > Cameraperson Peter Greenaway’s outrageous bio-pic about Sergei Eisenstein, whose impact on cinema is still felt, pairs compassion for the Russian exile’s private life with respect for his art. Kirsten Johnson confuses her ré​sumé as a photographer on PC docs with artistic expression. Genius vs. narcissism. Miles Ahead > The Birth of a Nation Don Cheadle finds inspiration and invention in Miles Davis’s genius, while Nate Parker misunderstands Nat Turner’s insurrection as instruction. History is to teach not repeat. Valley of Love, Don’t Call Me Son > Toni Erdmann France’s Guillaume Nicloux and Brazil’s Anna Muylaert both treat family dysfunction as serious business in two innovative films about the difficulty of parenting gay children, while Germany’s Maren Ade sees parental foibles and inherited perversity as a berserk sitcom. Nicloux and Muylaert go deep; Ade goes too far. Will You Dance with Me? > The 13thDerek Jarman’s previously unreleased record of one night at a London disco in the 1980s survives as a document of assorted human desires unified by popular culture. Ava DuVernay uses the documentary form to showcase today’s race-hustling elites who promote social division through black victimization. Jarman’s joyous, personal interpretation of dance culture makes history; DuVernay’s dubious misinterpretation of the Constitution’s 13th Amendment violates it. Sully > Rogue One Clint Eastwood celebrates true American heroism while reevaluating the cynical disbelief that has infected post-9/11 culture; Garth Edwards depicts the miasma of war as a dull Star Wars episode. An edifying entertainment for adults vs. ends-justifies-the-means propaganda for children of all ages. The Mermaid > The BFG Stephen Chow’s action-fantasy just happens to make ecological points while defending the ethics of the forgotten working class. Spielberg’s political parable is a transparent valedictory salute to Obama’s ruling-class elitism, normalized as childhood fantasy. The most popular film in China’s history vs. an American election-year flop. Kubo and the Two Strings > Finding Dory, Sausage Party Travis Knight responds to the crisis of our rotted pop culture with this fable about the sustenance a boy receives from family memory and hand-fashioned art. It’s far superior to another fishy piece of Pixar sentimentality and Seth Rogen’s millennial update of Animal House raunchiness. Standing Tall > Fences Emmanuelle Bercot’s story of a lost urban white kid in Paris gives an updated view of how society fails then rescues its own. It bests the theatrical and political clichés of August Wilson’s black Pittsburgh family drama. Contemporary humanism vs. cornball politics. Patriots Day, The Finest Hours > Manchester by the Sea Peter Berg’s and Craig Gillespie’s true-life New England adventures feature ethnic sensitivity that redefines American character and the action-history genre. But Manchester by the Sea (yes, that con job again) peddles ethnic smugness. Two classic B-movies vs. indie pseudo-art. Hidden Figures > Elle Theodore Melfi’s pre-feminist heroic trio outperform Paul Verhoeven’s Euro-trash post-feminist heroine. In the former, the personal humanizes politics, while the personal is shallowly politicized in the latter. Love & Friendship > 20th Century Women Whit Stillman satirizes modern morality in Jane Austen drag, while Mike Mills drags viewers through a Sundance reeducation course in “feminism.”  More Movies Mark Ruffalo vs. White ‘Conservative’ Women The Mummy Unwrapped: American Guilt and Masochism There’s Still Life in The Mummy Rules Don’t Apply > La La Land Warren Beatty’s misconceived whatzit briefly confesses the sex-and-business wonderland of his early days in L.A. It’s far more credible and fascinating than Chazelle’s clumsy, priggish, neo-yuppie “musical” (yes, that con job again). Aferim! > Captain America: Civil War Radu Jude’s profane Romanian folktale is also an epic satire (in majestic black-and-white) of how a debased culture rationalizes terrorism, pain, and inhumanity. Marvel attempts the same with its superhero franchise, trivializing the concept of “civil war” the same way Bernie Sanders trivializes the concept of “revolution.” — Armond White is the author of New Position: The Prince Chronicles. ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • 2016 Was the Best Year Ever for Gay Movies
    (”Will You Dance With Me?” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Armond WhiteMovies No question about it, 2016 offered an unprecedented bounty of good films that dealt with queer experiences. But this extraordinary turn in the history of movies and gay culture never made it to the mainstream media, which always distorts sex, politics, morality, and art. This was also the year when mainstream media, which typically marginalizes gay movies, suddenly pretended to find a rare gem (see the last slide). Don’t believe the hype. The cultural and media elite only praise what’s hyped; their agenda is to promote films that perpetuate the status quo stereotyping of everyone. But these films don’t. The very best of them—by Techine, Davies, Thomas, Jarman, Greenaway, and Solondz—aren’t just good, they’re the best movies of the year.  Pages1 2 3 4 5 … next › last » ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Roaring 20: The Best Movies of 2016 Thus Far
    (”Will You Dance With Me?” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Armond WhiteMovies Great movies still reign over TV. At the start of the fall arts season, a look back at the 20 best films so far this year. These pacesetters prove that good movies aren’t always blockbusters and come from unexpected places. (Please note: These films are ordered alphabetically and not by rank.) Pages1 2 3 4 5 … next › last » ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

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