RIZE (David LaChappelle). 86 minutes. Opens Friday (August 5). For venues and times, see Movies, page 91. Rating: NNNNN
Breakdancing's chic is severely depressed by photographer/director David LaChappelle 's documentary, which makes b-boys and -girls look like they're doing the Charleston. That's because Rize focuses on clown dancing and crumping, two rowdy styles of inner-city L.A. dance that have been percolating beneath the mainstream radar for years.
LaChappelle, whose flamboyant spreads have graced everything from Rolling Stone to Italian Vogue, first learned about these wild styles on set, trying to make Christina Aguilera's Dirrty video as raunchy as possible.
Mere words can't relay how frenetic clown dancing and crumping are. The film even begins with a disclaimer that no footage has been sped up. LaChappelle does well to punctuate the film with simple, unhurried, glossy sequences of his incredibly ripped subjects doing their thang, at points cross-cutting them with archival footage of tribal African dancing - a point made but not overstated.
But the most surprising thing about Rize is its perfect wedding of aesthetics and substance. You'd think that after snapping Lil' Kim's nude bod covered in LV logos or supermodel Devon Aoki, in a pair of assless panties, holding up a massive trout, that LaChappelle would attempt some equally baroque semiotic arragements here.
Uh-uh. When his eye's not on the dance, LaChappelle keeps a steady and static focus on the hard environment that spawned these dance styles, creating a doc that's as high in emotional candour as it is in energy.