Mr. P surprised me not long ago by recording "Black Swan" and "Honey 2." Now, as dance movies go, those are about as different as you can get. They were both, however, very satisfactory.
The original movie called "Honey" was a silly little thing about a pretty girl with no money and few credentials who is convinced she is a world-class choreographer and therefore deserving of big-money gigs so she can open up a dance center in her blighted neighborhood. Or something like that. There is a tiny hint of "Flashdance"in the rich guy who helps her "make it," but very little actual dancing, since the movie stars someone who apparently is not, you guessed it, a dancer.
And audiences today are, I guess, a little less forgiving of hiring a star who has to be doubled throughout. (No offense to Jennifer Beals, who is one of the most beautiful women in America, but we all know Marine Jahan did the dancing in "Flashdance," right?)
Whatever, "Honey" was an inoffensive light entertainment. This sequel, however, improves upon it in several ways.
First of all: the original character Honey is not actually in it. She is merely a framing device. In the world of "Honey 2," the neighborhood dance center has in fact been built. And it becomes a site for supervised community service by a downtrodden ex-juvenile delinquent who happens to be quite pretty, smart, and of course a great dancer. Only in this movie, she actually dances. A LOT. Throughout the movie! It is jam-packed with dancing.
The plot concerns our heroine joining a dance crew that trains at the center, and the crew's work to get onto a dance TV show suspiciously similar to "America's Best Dance Crew," up to and including being hosted by Mario Lopez. There was much giggling about this chez nous. There is also a romance subplot (of course) featuring a rich guy who may or may not just be slumming with the homies (he's not) and a conflict featuring our heroine's ex, who of course is the head of the dance crew that is their most bitter rival.
But the plot isn't that important, really. Neither is the frequently-clunky dialogue. It's a dance movie. It's got a lot of dancing in it, and the dancing is good, so watch and enjoy.
And then there is "Black Swan." This is most definitely NOT a light entertainment. It's one of the four best movies about ballet I've ever seen, though. I wouldn't call it a favorite because the viewing experience was not 100% pleasant; there is some freaky shit going on.
I have only seen two other movies from that director, but based on some quick memory-searching and, of course, the Internet, it appears that addiction is his theme of choice; and it is certainly in play in "Black Swan." I thought the central character, a very challenging role, was extremely well-played by Natalie Portman. I don't even know how someone who is (by most reports) intelligent, mature, and stable does so well at playing a not-very-bright person with a serious case of arrested development who is descending into complete psychosis.
The staging of the dances, and the production design throughout, were noticeably good. It was wholly engrossing and emotionally resonant, and altogether a damn fine movie.