A Wink And A Smile

"OK"

A Wink And A Smile Review


In Rodgers and Hart's Pal Joey, an ex-stripper turned society gal relives her past, singing the spritely and sarcastic tune "Zip!" -- "Zip! Walt Lippman wasn't brilliant today / Zip! Will Saroyan ever write a great play? / Zip! I was reading Schopenhauer last night / Zip! And I think that Schopenhauer was right / Zip! I'm an intellectual!" All this as she is peeling off her garments.

In Diedre Allen Timmons's new documentary A Wink and a Smile, the Zip! attitude is out in force. Centering the film on Miss Indigo Blue's Burlesque 101 Class at the Academy of Burlesque in Seattle, Timmons follows a class of ten women of all ages and sizes as they progress through the six-week class and learn about themselves while practicing striptease and burlesque, their final dissertation being a group performance at a local club.

All the gals are learning the bump and grind of striptease and bark removal... but not to become the new Gypsy Rose Lee, Lil St. Cyr, or Jennie "The Bazoom Girl" Lee. Taking the burlesque course for these modern babes is not just to learn the art of the tease but as a means to another end. An opera singer wants to take the burlesque class so that she can be more comfortable on stage and closer to her own oeuvre. A young taxidermist is seeking self-fulfillment. And a quirky older woman wants to "bring back the art of the sagging breast."

But although Timmons follows the women through the six not-so-grueling weeks and has them comment on their feelings and progression in the course, she centers the film on Miss Indigo Blue, who is serious, self-important, and stern as she gives her burlesque course the same gravitas as if she were offering a class in nuclear physics or global warming. She speaks of empowerment and of sexy clothes-shedding as supporting women through their bodies and improving their body images. She also demonstrates to her undergraduates how to perform a pussy check. But in the end, A Wink and a Smile is not so much about empowering women or a tribute to the exaggerated tease as it is a promotional film for Miss Indigo Blue's Burlesque 101 course. I am sure the film will be a great curriculum vitae for Ms. Blue if she ever wants to land a job teaching in MIT's health and wellness program.

Timmons follows the course progression week by week and the sessions are reeled off as Burlesque 101 Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and so on, with the dogged precision of tracer bullets, all climaxing in the grand class performance at the strip club. But the ending turns out to be no climax at all, just quickly edited snippets of each student's act. One would think after the time spent on documenting the class week by week, Timmons could at least have given an uninterrupted presentation of some of the student performances. As it is, there is no sense of whether the students triumphed or smelled like herrings in the moonlight. The film plays like a class taught by a tenured professor: Okay, class is over; time to prepare for the next group of students.

The saving grace of the film is the complete performances of class acts of neo-burlesque -- The Shanghai Pearl, Tamara the Trapeze Lady, The Swedish Housewife, Waxie Moon, Vienna le Rouge, Lily Verlaine, Kitten la Ru, Inga Ingénue, Ernie von Schmaltz, and Ultra -- padding out the more mundane burlesque workshop sessions. Particularly impressive is Waxie Moon (a female impersonator from Boylesque) appearing mustachioed in a white wedding gown and proceeding to strip down, Ernie von Schmaltz's psychotic gyrations, and, greatest of all, Lily Verlaine's "empowering" nude display as she pours paint over her body, ending up looking like a living art work in her "Picasso piece."

Too bad the Burlesque 101 students didn't pull off anything like that. But then again, with Timmons's abbreviated editing of the class project, maybe some student did. We'll just never know.

Feeling blue?



A Wink And A Smile

Facts and Figures

Run time: 91 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 28th May 2008

Box Office Worldwide: $19.5 thousand

Distributed by: First Run Features

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 38%
Fresh: 6 Rotten: 10

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Diedre Allen Timmons

Producer: Jack Timmons, Diedre Allen Timmons

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.