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Berlinale 2012 Review – “Leave It on The Floor” Musical Explores ‘Vogue Ballroom’ Underground Culture in L.A.

Berlinale 2012 Review - "Leave It on The Floor" Musical Explores 'Vogue Ballroom' Underground Culture in L.A.

As Tambay noted in two previous review posts (Call Me Kuchu and Indignados + Espoir Voyage), S&A reader Denise VanDeCruze (The Mic Movement – Amplifying Art In Berlin & Beyond), currently at the Berlinale Film Festival, is back with another review write-up to share with us!

Directed by Sheldon Larry and penned by Glenn Gaylord, Leave It To The Floor is “set in the ballroom world originally memorialized by the documentary Paris Is Burning, Leave It on the Floor is an original musical set in the scene in Los Angeles 2011.”

The musical centers around “Brad,” played by Ephraim Sykes (TV’s 30 Rock), a gay man disowned by his mother who becomes part of the LA underground “Vogue Ball” culture.

Here’s Ms. VanDeCruz’ review:

I had my world torn open by the documentary, Paris is Burning in the early 90′s.  All of a sudden a movie gave voice to a silenced subculture of black gay ball culture.  This culture has saved lives, nourished artists and has had a heavy influence on mainstream pop culture.  Sheldon Larry, the director of Leave It On The Floor was also moved by Paris Is Burning, and used it as his inspiration to make the a movie that focuses on ball culture in L.A.

Needless to say, I had high expectations for Leave It On The Floor.  I was not clear from the summary that it was a musical, a format that I don’t have much appreciation for on film.  I think that character development, story-structure and depth tend to suffer when films attempt to conform.  Given those limitations, I was pleased with the overall movie that kept me engaged throughout.  The choreography was phenomenal. However the camera angles and editing make it hard for you to fully appreciate the dance moves.  The weakest part of the film, was the lack technical expertise; scenes that were too dark, choppy editing, colors & sound that seem off-balance.  The strongest part of the scene were the believable actors, many who are amateurs.

The story centers around a hunky young man, Brad,  who is thrown out of his hostile house for being gay.  While the movie starts with this ousting and the theme of exclusion  is always in the background, it does not revolve around straight people’s perceptions and acceptance, but, rather, spotlights the artistic expression and survival mechanisms of underground ball scene.  It successfully brings you into a world that is rarely seen.

Phillip Evelyn (pictured above) plays Princess and he owns every scene that he is in.  I think we can expect great things on screen  from him in the future if the runways don’t snatch him up first. The main character, Brad, is believable but somewhat annoying because of his fluctuations between outrageous bravado and suicidal self-loathing. The house mother, Miss Barbie-Q had the most well-developed character and the acting ability and vocal talent to pull it off.

Click HERE to read the rest.

Watch the trailer below:

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