Monday, February 10, 2020

What's Next On My List? Staying Alive

Welcome to the sixth installment of #StalloneMonth, which I have to say, is my favorite time of the year! In this period, over the span of four or five weeks (depending on the dates), I review Sylvester Stallone movies. This has been a fun project, and I will keep on going until I run out of movies to review! Thankfully that time has not come yet, so here comes year six!

Tony Manero is trying hard to find work as a professional dancer on Broadway, but as he is about to give up, finally his luck seems to turn. He works hard and ends up getting the leading part in a show, that will forever change his life.

This was the fourth movie that my beloved Sylvester Stallone directed, and it was the best one in my opinion. Over the past six years I have mostly talked about movies that he starred in, and of course some of them were also directed by him (Rocky II, Rambo, The Expendables), but this is one of those movies where he has no real role on the other side of the camera. And when it comes to directing, I have to say, he has a really good eye. I fell in love with this movie far before I started to read title cards and notice directors (before that I always thought that actors are either good or bad, no in between, but nope, clearly the director IS the most important part of a movie. But we learn these things only when we get older). So in light of #StalloneMonth I wanted to focus on not only the acting of this great artist, but also the directing. So that is why we are here!

I saw this movie before I saw the original Saturday Night Fever, and well, it is supposed to be a sequel and people did not want a sequel. But here is the thing... this is a REALLY good movie. I had to see the first one several times before I learned to appreciate it. But here is the thing, Tony is the same person. The original movie focuses very much on how this person learns one mistake at a time how to be a good person, but overall, his morals are in the right place. And I find that screenwriters Norman Wexler and Sylvester Stallone did a great job at presenting us this grown up Tony, who is still not quite there, but he is definitely working on it. I have written a whole thesis on the achievement of the American Dream from the point of view of Manero and well, and one of the important things that I noted was the environment that surrounds our protagonist. Once he breaks out of it, like he did at the end of the movie, he is faced with new challenges, and the mistakes he makes in this film are similar to those of boy still learning to outgrow his old ways.
Of every possible interpretation, this movie to me is about learning to appreciate what we have. Tony learns this lesson when he indeed loses the best person in his life: Jackie, who he was completely unable to appreciate. Having watched both movies now back to back, I have to say there are some simple people out there who, even if struggle, believe that they have hundreds of chances, and they have to learn their lesson: Tony is one of those people. Let alone the fact that I love this movie, for the soundtrack, the casting, the story, the directing... everything is a 10/10 for me, but I also think it is a great sequel. Of course, the first one handled a series of difficult topics, from unwanted pregnancies, to family disgraces to suicide, and it comparison this movie is very lighthearted. It focuses more on the magic of dance, of how we speak with our bodies and how we have to be the hero of our own life, no matter what. Many will put you down and make you feel like you are not enough, but you shouldn't walk away from that, no, you should stay and fight to live another day.

Watch it? Please do. It stars one of the best actresses of the 80's, Cynthia Rhodes: not only is she a wonderful dancer but a great singer as well and this movie made sure to highlight that. She is a literal triple threat and well, she did not have a lot of movies (I for one have seen them all already several times), and she is one of the greatest things in this movie. Her performance, her love for Tony, her understanding of the hardships of this industry, not to mention never doubting her own abilities... she was one of the strongest and most relatable characters I have ever seen on the big screen. If not for Stallone, if not for the wonderful performance by Travolta, or the adventures of Tony Manero, then definitely watch this movie for Rhodes: you will not be disappointed.

Until the next item on my list.
_ _ _ _ _ 

John Travolta - Tony Manero
Cynthia Rhodes - Jackie
Finola Hughes - Laura
Steve Inwood - Jesse
Julie Bovasso - Mrs. Manero

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