Published Sep 15, 2011Possibly the only thing to distinguish this particular entry to vérité documentarian Frederick Wiseman's oeuvre of collaborative production dissection, beyond the actual subject matter, is his decision to film in HD rather than the 16mm he's known for. And considering that the institution being examined here is Le Crazy Horse de Paris, which boasts the world's best chic nude dancing, this added vibrancy in colour heightens the textures of the many lighting techniques and colour palettes used in the various performances throughout the film.
Otherwise, Crazy Horse is essentially par for the course, in terms of Wiseman, going behind the curtains of a mysterious entity without intervention, detailing the preparation, downtime, administration, performance, make-up, lighting, maintenance and management of the club, dividing up every segment with expert pacing and editing.
It gives off an almost hypnotic flow, dividing up the wardrobe and concept arguments with actual performances involving mirrors, tap-dancing twins and a five-minute panty removal. We hear private conversations, where choreographer Philippe Decouflé discusses the difficulty of creating new acts in relation to the dancers' hesitation to touch each other, along with a wardrobe discussion, wherein a costume designer tells a dancer that a skirt makes her ass look bony.
There's an abundance of bare breasts and behinds on screen as this unfolds, which becomes almost commonplace after 20 minutes, especially since every girl has the exact body type. It's part of the stringent standards that Crazy Horse upholds, ensuring that all performances go off without a hitch, maintaining consistency in aesthetics, whether it be lighting, merkin style or cup size.
Because Wiseman doesn't engage or offer an opinion on the subject, merely observing the mixture of corporate and artistic in a show meant to titillate upscale patrons, the appeal of the documentary has much to do with the subject on hand.
Fortunately, many of the debates and performances prove highly entertaining, as does a sequence where the dancers sit in a dressing room laughing hysterically at a ballet blooper reel. (Zipporah)