i love paris and ballet so i couldnt wait to see the new documentary by frederick wiseman, la danse: paris opera ballet. i was lucky enough to attend the almost 3 hour film with my client, also a documentary filmmaker, who just finishing a film project about a hungarian choreographer. (i'll see a sneak peek of her project next week--cant wait!) this film had its moments and glimpses, but was such a string of missed opportunities. why clip conversational sidebars between former dancers (i guess) comparing notes whist coaxing today's performers to more nuanced work; who are these folks? you also get peeks into the business side (and the fascinating woman at the helm) and backstage areas of the institution. you also hear the middle of a conversation (important to the arts especially these days) about american and other financial vip supporters; how does it start or end? even if he couldnt tell all the stories, i wish he had told one in full. why not connect a narrative via the artists, supporters, and/or business operations of the company? it felt like i was watching a trailer for at least 5 films that might be great. i felt sad that for folks who dont know or care yet, this film doesnt help and doesnt show why this company and these people/artists are even worth learning about. im not saying the film had a duty to promote ballet or this company, it's not a pr piece. i had expected a story about identifiable characters that we relate to or not, or possible to learn something specific about all the process of producing this technically grueling, exquisitely delicate and ephemeral art. when it didnt, i felt disappointed. in new york, the film forum showings of the film were sold out and filled with insiders and balletomanes who waxed on about how great the film was. maybe it was for them. but what about the rest of us? by failing to tell who's on the screen, giving context to the comments being made or finishing one of the many stories passing by the lens, i wasnt sure who the intended audience for the film is and what point of telling the story was in the first place. dont go to the film, go to (your local) ballet instead.
peace out, flatsie
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