Release Date: January 13
Burlesque is likely to be the singing and dancing sensation of the holiday break but its star-spangled numbers are performed on the stage of an unvarnished morality tale.
Don’t look for twists. This one is as simple as they come. Christina Aguilera plays Ali, a small-town bar girl who just wants to sing. She grabs her duffle bag and boards the ubiquitous bus for California, hoping to make good on the dreams inspired by her deceased mother.
In Tinsel Town she meets Tess, played by Cher, who runs a struggling nightclub specialising in famous burlesque numbers. Tess’s fabulous dancers only mime to the music and so are suitably startled when they discover Ali has the voice of a bawdy angel. But will it be enough to save the club from the bank’s foreclosure?
Despite the clichés, Burlesque builds a solid story around the common temptation to covet what others have. Ali is asked why she came to L.A. and she responds, “Because I looked around and realized there wasn’t one person’s life I wanted.” But her life mirrors that ancient curse, ‘May you get everything you wish for’. Even when she manages to land her dream job and the dreamiest boy in the club, she finds new things to be tempted by. Tess, filling in for her mother, reminds her that success built on the backs of others is no success at all.
What saves Burlesque from its predictable plot is the sheer stunning nature of the performances. Think of Chicago but set in Los Angeles. I actually wanted to clap at the end of several of the numbers – no kidding! – and not even the company of some fairly jaded professional reviewers marred the experience. A clear warning, though, this is singing and dancing faithful to historical burlesque – a very racy and alluring style. The costumes can be startlingly revealing and the music is deliberately alluring. The M rating is appropriate, so this is not one for dance-crazy kids.
Who do you think you are?
Distributor: SBS One
Release Date: Sundays, 4:00 PM
Family genealogy seems to be a bug that everyone catches at some time. Whether it’s a child’s interest in understanding the meaning of their name or a retiree’s sudden determination to dig up every detail on their family tree, we all seem to share an interest in our heritage. That universal fascination is the power behind SBS’s excellent series Who do you think you are?
The Who… crew have built their program around helping famous Australians examine the families from whom they are descended. Consequently there is star factor as well as a bit of mystery.
Previous episodes have investigated the ancestors of Georgie Parker, Maggie Beer, Ron Barassi and Christine Anu just to name a few. The show is now in its third series and it continues to amaze me how many celebrities are prepared to put their pasts under the microscope.
Anyone who considers history to be the driest of subject matters will also be pleasantly surprised about the amount of heart in each episode. Last week Australian actor Paul Mercurio discovered his American ancestry and achieved a degree of personal closure with his recently deceased father. This week newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky discovers the emotional elements her South African father, Indian mother and Kenyan brother contributed to English upbringing.
Who do you think you are? also answers a spiritual question. its format assumes, and each episode proves, that our ancestry contributes more to our present day lives than just a receding hairline or a dislike of cheese. We are in many respects a product of the decisions made generations before our birth, and pretending those elements don’t matter is just that – a pretense. From a Christian perspective it’s easy to see the evidence of grace in each branch of the family tree. A mobster high up in family’s branches has not prevented many Australians making surprising achievements, thanks to the fresh start God offers every day.