Friday, June 10, 2005

WCBE 90.5 FM: "Mad Hot Ballroom," "Rock School," "The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl in 3-D"

It's Movie Time
Co-hosts: John DeSando & Clay Lowe
Producer/Director: Richelle Antczak, WCBE 90.5 FM

Reviews: “Mad Hot Ballroom,” “Rock School,” “The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl in 3-D”
Taped: 4 pm, June 8, 2005
Air Time: 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm, June 10, 2005
Streaming live on the web at .

The Script:

"Mad Hot Ballroom” is a junior sized version of “Strictly Ballroom” . . . .

“Rock School” rocks as a documentary . . .

“The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl in 3-D” is neither “Whale Rider” nor “Finding Nemo” . . .


Richelle Antczak
"It's Movie Time" in Central-Ohio with John DeSando and Clay Lowe . . .


I'm John DeSando

And I'm Clay Lowe

John (“Mad Hot Ballroom”)
Clay, It’s been two glorious weeks for us award-winning teachers. Last week I reviewed the documentary Rock School, a raucous romp with teens from Philly grooving Zappa all the way to Germany. This week’s Mad Hot Ballroom shows NYC public schools 11 year olds competing for top honors in ballroom dancing, a required course that lets students and teachers strut their best stuff.

Like last year’s Spellbound, everyone gets to show competitive spirit with low-level anguish at losing and testosterone-fueled joy at winning. The common denominator in both films is the enthusiasm of teachers who have little to gain but the biggest prize of all—the success of their charges.

Ballroom captures the harmony that pervades a group project where the human body gracefully expresses its glory and young people experience perhaps for the first time the wonder of collective activity that ties them to peers and teachers and effaces their natural youthful loneliness, delinquent temptations, and fear of losing.

You’ll want to put on your dancing shoes after this film.

Clay ("Mad Hot Ballroom")
Folks, John DeSando IS an award winning teacher (I’ve seen his plaque), but instead of teaching his students about dancing and prancing, he teaches them about how to more fully explore Marlon Brando’s performance in “Last Tango.” [Ah, Marlon we miss you.]

Though there are no Brando’s, Travolta’s nor Astaire’s in “Mad Hot Ballroom,” there ARE some very exciting performers. Keep your eyes on the 11-year-old team of Wilson and Jatnna from PS 115 in Washington Heights, for instance. What Wilson lacks in linguistic skills, he makes up for in charisma and charm. And his lovely partner, Jatnna, has a poise and elegance that transcends her youth and social standing. [Watch for her swirling and whirling in fuchsia.]

The teachers, the dance instructors, and the students themselves are the stars of this film, so if you have fault with the inexperienced filmmakers who sometimes lose control of their material, you will still be able to phase-lock into the musical rhythms with the student performers. [Olé!]

John (“Rock School”)
Clay, in Don Argot’s documentary, Rock School, Paul Green takes a group of 9 to 17 year olds in his Paul Green School for Rock Music in Philadelphia and makes them into a band playing Black Sabbath, Santana, and a Zappa that an audience bowed to at a German Zappanele concert.
Green abuses his learners with profanity dominated by variations of the “f” word (“Don’t f---ing make mistakes!”), but he keeps his job while his students achieve undreamt of results. Unlike old chestnuts such as To Sir with Love, Mr. Holland’s Opus, and Seize the Day, which purport to show the gifted teacher at work, this film honestly depicts the flaws and virtues of a dedicated facilitator living only to see his pupils excel.

“If it wasn’t for rock school, I’d probably be dead,” says one student deeply hooked by the school’s charismatic leader and unmitigated success.

Rock on.

Clay (“The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D”)
John, the professional performances in “The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl” not only lack charisma, they also score high in annoyance. That is, with the exception of Lava Girl (Taylor Dooley), the superhero girl with the fuschia hair, who would have made a striking same-gendered partner for Jatnna the young dancer in “Ballroom.”

But Shark Boy (Taylor Lautner) has a more annoying chip on his shoulder than the classroom bully. And Max (Cayden Boyd), the younger brother of Jenna (from “The Missing” and “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”), does not yet have the talents of his sister.

Set first in Max’s classroom, then in Max’s imaginary tundra-like land of milk and honey, “Shark Boy & Lava Girl” may hold the attention of pre-teens and pre-schoolers, but it will have mom and dad running for cover to get popcorn, fruit punch, and candy.

But enough of imaginary worlds and rocking Latino rhythms, John, because it’s grading time.


“Mad Hot Ballroom” earns an "A" for its ADOLESCENT and ADULT ACHIEVEMENT . . .

“Mad Hot Ballroom” gets a “B” because it’s the BOYS AND GIRLS who make this picture . . .

“Rock School” earns a "B" for BRAVELY showing the "f" word worthy enough to be used by Dick Cheney . . .

“The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl” gets a “D” because it’s a cardboard cutout of a movie . . .

John, after listening to some of our more recent shows, I’m beginning to worry that our format and delivery is getting too slick, too smug, and too smooth. Whaddya think?

Clay, not slick or snug ENOUGH for my Seinfeld-like self apsorption. In fact, you should work on that weakness of caring for people too much.

When more listeners complain about our smugness, I’ll feel we have done our job.

I'm outta here.

John, you are the original Mr. Freeze.

I’m outta here too.

See you at the movies, folks.


The Award Winning "It's Movie Time" with John DeSando and Clay Lowe is produced by Richelle Antczak in conjunction with 90.5 FM, WCBE in Columbus and 106.7 FM in Newark.


© 2005 John DeSando and Clay Lowe