A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

film and television
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

THE COMPANY (article first published : 2004-10-27)

First seen locally at this year's Durban International Film Festival, The Company is the latest seductive work from one of my favourite directors, Robert Altman, the genius behind Short Cuts, The Player and, more recently, Gosford Park.

Here he delivers a warm, unsentimental valentine to not only the professionalism and athleticism of Chicago's renowned Joffrey Ballet but also the blood, sweat and tears that make up the daily grind of the dancer, a talent always overworked and underpaid. And if his movie is undeniably thin on plot, dramatically disappointing and fragmented, it remains constantly beguiling.

What makes the magic are the many scenes of superb dance, breathtakingingly shot, which showcase dancers, underpaid and overworked, going through their daily grind. We peek at them, over a number of months building up to a new year, while they rehearse, perform and play. And we watch as they deal with financial woes forcing five or more of them to share cramped accommodation and, as with attractive Ry (Neve Campbell, who also co-produced and conceived the story), are forced to waitress nightly to make ends meet.

Like a mock-documentary at times, Altman's film pirouettes between all the cliches of the dance scene - from torn Achilles tendons and bloody toes, to pressure and interference from parents; from hissy-fits and pretentious choregraphers to bickering, back-stabbing and backstage romances.

Campbell, who initiated the project, having trained with Canada's National Ballet before she found fame in the Scream movies, comes over as a truly terrific dancer and she's in great shape, physically and dramatically. She is particularly memorable in a lyrical pas de deux, set to My Funny Valentine. It's staged at a park, where the outdoor theatre is whipped by rain and wind and is incidentally, dramatically, lit with lightning crackles.

Loosely following Ry's rise in the Joffrey ranks and her blossoming romance with a sweet chef (Spider-Man's James Franco), the film is richly embellished with moments like these. Highlights include a solo dance by a woman who, wearing a flowing white dress, interprets Julee Cruise's plaintive The World Spins while performing on a rope swing, bathed in dappled light. A mesmerising dance with elastic tape is another stand-out, as are a number of quieter solo moments and pas de deuxs.

Then there's the colourful and amusing finale, a silly but ambitious work titled The Blue Snake, a far-out fairytale featuring a menagerie of animals, a gargantuan serpent and a flesh-eating giant. Also starring Malcolm McDowell, as the company's mercurial artistic director, The Company may not be among Altman's finest work, but it is hugely enjoyable and an absolute must for dance fans. For these sequences alone it deserves a rating of 8/10 Billy Suter




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart