October 17th, 2009

red panda eating bamboo

Movie recommendation: Hula Girls

Hula Girls is based on a true story and begins like this:

In the mid 1960s, Japan is switching from coal to oil as its primary energy source. The Joban Mine in the town of Iwaki is in jeopardy of closing, which will put two thousand people out of work. The town has natural hot springs so the mining company decides to build a Hawaii-themed resort to attract tourism. Once completed the resort will provide about five hundred jobs. Most of the mine workers aren't thrilled by this.

A dancer from Tokyo is hired to teach hula dancing to local women. Culture clashes ensue, etc.

The movie plot is predictable, but I liked the movie because it passed the Bechdel Test with flying colors, working class people were portrayed (a union was even mentioned), there was a lot of dancing, the cinematography is good, there were women of various shapes and sizes and gender expressions dancing, dancing was portrayed as a profession and not just as a dream of glamorous artistic fulfillment, and the plot wasn't cluttered up by a Hollywood-style heterosexual romance. Also the music is by Jake Shimabukuro.

If I were throwing a double feature movie party I would pair this movie with October Skies, which is about boys in an American coal town.

(Comments might contain spoilers.)