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Thursday, April 7, 2016

'High Strung' Theatrical Release: High-Energy 'Fame'/Mismatched 20-something Lovers Film

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Filmmakers/husband wife/dancer and former rocker/soap star respectively Janeen and Michael Damian know of what they speak in "High Strung," which hits theaters on April 8, 2016.  This variation of their early performing lives focuses on Ruby, who is a Midwestern girl on her own who comes out to New York on a dance scholarship because she thinks that the change will do her good. He (a.k.a. Johnnie Blackwell) is an ordinary bloke who is in the United States illegally and pays his bills by playing his violin in subway (a.k.a Underground or Tube) stations. Their Manhattan nights adventures make for good storytelling.

The New York worlds of classical music and dance and their street counterparts collectively comprise the main supporting character in the film. The Damians casting both well-known performers and choreographers from those worlds results in dynamic performances that range from dance battles, to ballroom scenes, to classical ballet.

The following YouTube clip of the "Strung" trailer achieves its purpose of drawing the audience into the film while showcasing Jane Seymour, whose favorite author allegedly is Anna Karenina, in her cameo role as a stereotypical demanding dance instructor.

The bonus YouTube clip below showcase (still hunky) Michael Damian doing a great job with his cover of the classic song "Rock On." 

The film opens with Ruby meeting many performing arts school stereotypes during her first days in the big city. Her roommate/fellow scholarship student is a young woman whose interest in partying is jeopardizing her future at the school, the power couple of the institute for higher jete are a male violinist with arrogance that is comparable to his talent and a top ballerina who would be right at home in "Black Swan."

For his part, "downtown man" Johnnie develops friendships with the dance crew "The SwitchSteps" that use the apartment below his as a studio/crib. 

All of these worlds collide when Ruby is present at a subway station during a dance crew battle that results in an already down-on-his-luck Johnnie facing a major obstacle to his abilities to keep a roof over his head and avoid being shipped back across the pond . The role of Ruby regarding this additional reversal of fortune sets the stage for a typical meeting poorly but falling in love story. You will want it to work for these crazy kids.

The film then proceeds through adequately plausible ups and downs that create the conflict that make every film interesting, All this leads to a film-ending climax in which the only suspense is whether Ruby and Johnnie will succeed the easy way, will initially fail but quickly find an "angel" who facilities them following their dreams, or they simply will keep pursuing their dreams on their own either as solo acts or a couple.

As mentioned above, the Damians make all this work because they know of which they speak. They also put their extensive show biz experience to good work in casting the film. 

Real-life ballerina Keenan Kampa does a good job portraying wholesome farm girl next door Ruby. Nicholas Galitizine adds wonderful leather to the lace of Kampa regarding his performance as Johnnie. This harmless bad boy also stars in the aptly titled 2016 drama "Handsome Devil," which chronicles the bonding of odd-couple roommates at a British boarding school.

If all of this seems like "Strung" is a movie for 13-year-old girls, it is because it is, Not that there is anything wrong with that. Everyone who is man (or woman) enough to not care about what the other people at the theater (whom they will never see again anyway) think is in for a well-paced and entertaining film with likable leads and some great musical numbers and what the press materials accurately describe as a fantasy New York in which it is always sunny, students and other folks near the poverty line live in large clean apartments, and pawn shop owners have a heart.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Strung" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

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