Jan 092011
It’s Sunday morning and I’m typing in bed, watching Bugsy Malone on Film Four.  Last night I went to see  the film Burlesque, the one with Cher and Christina Aguilera. Oh dear, oh dear.  I was forewarned by NY Times Review, but I had to go.  I think the theme concept for summing it up, is apropo nothing.  The lines, scenes, story line seemed like a disconnected re-hash of cliches.  The script must have been made from the off cuts of standard studio rom-coms, and old back-stage musicals of the 1930s.  Wait, that makes it sound better than it was. Let me interject that Bugsy Malone has a script and an original score, its low budget and its played by children, and its excellent.  Compare that to Burlesque.  A film without a script.  With way to much dialogue, delivered with tacky-teen soap style ‘acting’.  And a huge budget.  

So you don’t have to watch it, here is the storyline in full:
1. girl arrives in LA from small town, no contacts, just some talent and tenacity
2. girl finds club, can’t get an audition, works the bar
3. girl auditions and she can dance
4. girl proves she can sing too, becomes star of the show
5. girls apartment is broken into
6. girl moves into boy’s flat
7. girl has no family (mum died when she was 7)
8. boy is poor, musically talented and engaged
9. girl meets rich man with no scrupples
10. some girl/girl rivalry
11. club owner about to loose club
12. boy breaks off engagement
13. girl saves the club financially
14. girl and boy get together.

This leaves a number of unanswered questions: this started life as a script by the wonderful Diablo Cody (see Juno), what happened?  Why the shaky irritating handheld style camera work? How did they manage to make a film called ‘Burlesque’ without any stripping?  How come the stage in the club is three times larger than bar are for patrons?

What the film does explore is the LA/Vegas revue format, like Forty Deuce, which borrows from the aesthetics of burlesque and the Paris revue Crazy Horse.  The film does create a great little club, with great acts, costumes and sets, with lots of homages to Fosse.  Some of the songs are ok, but what about this: ditch the pretence of a ‘storyline’, and make a film of the revue – let’s see all the acts, no shaky camera-work, and more new big-band style songs written for the film.  And Bugsy Malone’s ending so its my cue to get up…

We could of been anything that we wanted to be
Yes, that decision was ours
It’s been decided
We’re weaker divided
Let friendship double up our powers
You give a little love and it all comes back to you
la la la la la la la
You know your gonna be remembered for the things that you say and do
la la la la la la la

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