Rize David LaChapelle

Rize David LaChapelle
Famed photographer turned music video director David LaChapelle (the guy who bestowed upon us Aguilera's "Dirrty" video) has jumped the ladder to feature length documentarian. His film, Rize, tracks a dance movement emerging from South Central Los Angeles called "krumping," a dance so kinetically aggressive that the film begins with a reminder that "none of the images have been sped up."

Rize attempts to explore the evolution of this dance by digging into street trends, particularly clown culture. Led by Tommy the Hip Hop Clown ("the father of krumping"), clowns refuse to conform to mainstream/stereotypical hip-hop culture, forfeiting 40s, gats and bitches for face paint and spastic battle-dancing (the aforementioned krumping). Krump circles serve as inner-city sanctums, places to release pent up anger in a positive way ("you're either in a gang or a clown group").

LaChapelle earnestly follows a handful of clown groups as they dance, get shot, philosophise and dance some more. Their efforts culminate in Battlezone (the film's highlight), an annual competition where Tommy's protégés face off against rival krumpers.

The film is energetic, though slightly repetitive, faltering only when LaChapelle (a fashion photographer from the mean streets of Connecticut, lest we forget) tries to place the dance in a wider social context. His heavy-handed approach borders on condescension as he blares footage of the Rodney King and the Watts riots, inter-splices scenes of African tribal rituals with a krump battle, and ends the whole meal with a quote from Martin Luther King. Yeah, we get it.

Regardless, the dancers are vital and interesting, and the soundtrack is nuts on the fancy theatre system, making the film worthy of a once-over. (Maple)