I don't give a shit about the dance-music scene. Dance clubs are miserably hot, the people who like them are obnoxious peacocks, and the bass-heavy music that plays inside them seems to be better at making you feel like you're being disemboweled than sparking a good time. (I do, however, have a soft spot for the club drugs and meeting women with daddy issues—even though it doesn't usually end well when I mix the two.)
I'd never go to a dance club on my own, nor would I call anyone up and say, "I could go for a good dance, you in?" The times that I have been dragged against my will by friends for obligatory wing-man duty, I pumped my body full of chemicals and resorted to a series of ironic "dance" gestures to get through the night. So naturally, when I heard about the short called Dance Music Now, I was predisposed to detest it with the same intensity I have for long lines to get into places that charge $25 for well drinks. Surprisingly, however, the short is really great and has nothing to do with shitty coke and "wubs." Instead, it's about feelings. Writer, director, and star Johan Jonason's short kicks off in the middle of an argument between a producer and a singer throwing ego-bruising insults as perfectly timed as the pop song they are failing to record.
The film delves deep into the neuroses at play between friends when one demands something of the other that they can't give. The filmmaker and cinematographer create a number of silent moments where expressive colors and blank-faced ancillary-music-producing extras heighten the tension of the friends as their egos do battle. Almost immediately their relationship is thrust on the line, and they kick and scream to stay on top. Dance Music Now captures more than people arguing about a pop song's integrity—through humor and discomfort, it explores man's internal anxiety regarding self-confidence and masculinity. Each man is too proud and too unwilling to move out onto that metaphorical dance floor, let loose, and take responsibility for who they are and what they're feeling. The short's darkly comic vulnerability is reminiscent of Todd Solondz’s films and is just as much of a pleasure to watch. In just eight minutes, Jonason incisively conveys the breakdown of a friendship and how being vulnerable and exposed can open the doors to something you never thought you could do.
Dance Music Now was recently awarded with the Guldbagge for Best Short Film (the Swedish equivalent of an Academy Award) and previously won the Startsladden prize at the Göteborg International Film Festival, one of the most prestigious short film prizes in the world worth $158,000 US. Filmmaker Johan Jonason was born in 1970 in Stockholm. He has a BA in Fine Arts from Chelsea College of Art, London and an MA from KKH, Stockholm. His work includes the Guldbagge-nominated short film Terrible Boy and his 2009 feature film debut Guidance.
Jeffrey Bowers is a tall mustached guy from Ohio who's seen too many weird movies. He currently lives in Brooklyn, working as an art and film curator. He is a programmer at the Hamptons International Film Festival and screens for the Tribeca Film Festival. He also self-publishes a super fancy mixed-media art serial called PRISM index.
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