PAUSE IT: What do you see? A b-boy struts his stuff before a crowd of onlookers. In midair he twists and flips to uproarious applause. The setting, the Bronx; the time, the early 1980s; the movie, Stan Lathan’s Beat Street (1984). Known for its pulsating rhythms and gravity-defying moves, b-boying (or breakdancing, for those not in the know), along with MCing, DJing, graffiti art, and the obtainment of knowledge, represents one of the five founding pillars of hip hop culture. Like the ethnographic films of cinema’s early days, Beat Street becomes something halfway between documentary and fiction as director Stan Lathan delves into this vibrant world of movement and color.

Beat Street (1984)
Director: Stan Lathan
Cinematography by Tom Priestley Jr.
Cast: Robert Taylor, Rae Dawn Chong, Jon Chardiet, Guy Davis
Available on DVD and Blu-ray from Olive Films.

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