Girl Walk // All Day: Chapter 4 (2011) dir. Jacob Krupnick
We join our story en media res. The Girl (Anne Marsen) has just escaped from her stifling ballet lessons and made her way to New York City, unaware that she is on a collision course with The Gentleman (Dai Omiya) – and they’re both unaware of the presence of the skeletal Creep (John Doyle).
(language warning, due to song lyrics)
It’s tough to pick just one chapter from the “feature-length dance music video” Girl Walk // All Day. Chapter 3, with its public amateur performance of “All the Single Ladies”? Chapter 7 where the line between participant and bystander dissolves completely in a subway car dance party (with a pole-dancing hunk in high heels for good measure)? Today might be the day to take a long lunch and just start from chapter 1.
Jacob Krupnick found a star in ballet-turned-hip-hop dancer Anne Marsen. He kickstarted this project off a trailer of Marsen dancing on the Stanton Island Ferry. He tied a loose story to the entire album All Day by Girl Talk (aka Gregg Michael Gillis) and filmed the dance performances through public spaces across New York. It captures spontaneous energy and dozens of small, impossible moments (a bird that flies by at just the right time, the Hasidic Jew who pauses to exchange a thought on happiness). The result is a joyful 70 minutes of hip-hop, tap, parkour, Bollywood and street art.
It’s also unreleaseable in any traditional sense. Aside from the stolen locations and the soundtrack (Krupnick has stated Gillis is pushing the boundaries of fair use with the music already and building from that baseline puts his own work into extremely gray territory), there’s the issue of unblurred and unconsenting citizens suddenly caught up in a dance video being filmed around them. Some join. Some ignore. Some smile. Some are grumpy. Their reactions, all of them, are precious.
Legal issues means the only way to find the film is in 6-minute chapters (one for each All Day track) on vimeo. Watching them in an autoplaying playlist gives an impression of the full film, which lights a fuse that burns for over an hour.
In Girl Walk, the tireless Anne Marsen calls into question what we ask of a movie star. There are dozens of actors who work at convincing us that they’re really good at punching, but too few with this kind of imagination and athleticism. There’s a demand for heroes who know how to hold an AK-47, but what if instead we asked for the surreal movements of John Doyle?
Ah, I can’t get that mad. I’ve been watching Girl Walk // All Day.