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Strictly Ballroom
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Length:1h 34mins
Cast:Baz Luhrmann, Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice, Bill Hunter

In this delightful 1992 musical comedy, innovative director Baz Luhrmann exhibits the same visual flair and iconoclastic spirit that made his more celebrated later hit, Moulin Rouge (2001), such a genre-bending treat. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at a contest for ballroom dancers at which the highly competitive Scott (Gus Mercurio) plans on breaking with tradition, much to the consternation of his conservative partner (Gia Carides), his overbearing mother (Pat Thompson), and the ballroom-dancing "establishment." He chooses a new partner, a bespectacled "ugly duckling" named Fran (Tara Morice) and stakes his reputation on her untested ability by choosing a complicated flamenco routine guaranteed to raise eyebrows. To an extent, Strictly Ballroom caricatures movie musicals, but the kidding is good-natured and the lead players are enormously likable. The film is also something of a Cinderella story, a little less credible than some might like, but no less entertaining for that. Luhrmann supplies a commentary for the DVD, whose other special features include deleted scenes (hidden "Easter egg" style), a featurette on dancing entitled "From Samba to Slow Fox,"and a gallery of images from the film presented in 3D. Ed Hulse

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