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FLICKS: Polina & It

Posted on 14 September 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave


As my mentors preached at the Dillard School of Performing Arts, success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. Moments of youthful inspiration are often gobbled by factory line instruction and dogmatic adherence to the elder masters of the craft. Polina is a French film that examines the fine line between dedication and inspiration. 

The film opens with a school bus taking young ballerinas past nuclear energy plants. We meet young Polina (Anastasia Shevtsova), who is examined to determine if she will be a good candidate for a ballet school, with the eventual hope of entering the Bolshoi. Despite some physical limitations, little Polina makes the cut, which thrills her father, who has connections with organized crime.

As she matures, Polina tires of the rigid structure of Russian ballet. After witnessing modern dance from a French dance troupe (especially a male dancer on whom she develops a crush), Polina changes her discipline. Being a fish out of water in her new avocation, she performs poorly, especially when her crush dances better with an arch rival.

Polina is a pure art house film, filled with fantastic visuals that tell a simple story about artistic growth.  Being a trained ballerina, Anastasia Shevtsova shines with beauty and grace. French icon Juliette Binoche has a small, but pivotal role. She instructs her protege to stop being so centered (as she was trained at the Bolshoi), and to observe life.

Despite Hurricane Irma’s interference with the Florida box office, IT had a blockbuster weekend. Having gone to a pre-hurricane screening, IT fulfilled crowd expectations. People were talking to the screen telling the heroes/victims what they should or should not do. This horror film is a pure roller coaster ride between comedy and terror, with a touch of late 1980s nostalgia thrown in.

Based on Stephen King’s omnibus novel, the movie focuses on part of the book about the seven preteen friends who encounter the shape-shifting boogeyman of all of their individualized phobias. When the demon speaks, he adopts persona of Pennywise, the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard – the son of Stellen Skarsgard, no stranger to playing villains).

Some of the author’s artistic controversial flourishes are eliminated and, in many ways, the film improves upon the book. The terrors of Carrie, Christine and The Dead Zone are still apparent. Director Andy Muschietti captures the vibe of the Rob Reiner/Stephen King Stand by Me.  

It and Polina are diverse movies on the big screen this weekend and both will appeal to their respective audiences.

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