“The Company” Review – Where’s the tuchus?

12 Jul

So I borrowed “The Company” from the library, starring (but not really) Neve Campbell as a dancer with the Joffrey Ballet.  It’s not really a movie, but it’s not really a documentary either because there’s no ongoing commentary or interviews.  So I don’t know what to call it…you’re basically along for the ride in a real life situation with real people, except for like 3 of them who were played by actors.  If anything, the entire “movie” is told from the view of the cameraman who stands in the corner and watches things unfold but is forbidden from making his presence known.  So if you want to know what a cameraman filming a ballet company feels like, “The Company” will show you without making you lift any heavy equipment (disclaimer: bend at the knees, not at the waist).

If you haven’t seen it, there is no plot, so don’t expect one.  In fact, I can’t even remember the name of Neve’s character.  But at least Neve can actually dance (en pointe even) and there were no stunt doubles…in fact, it’s been said that the Joffrey Ballet offered her a position with the company after the movie wrapped, which she declined because of injuries and a desire to “act” (mm hmm).  Somebody seriously needs to tell her that not all of us (well not me…but people who can actually dance) can train exclusively with a top ballet company for two years, promote the company by making a movie about them and have the fortuitous serendipity to be offered a position.  She should have stuck with the injury excuse…saying she wants to continue acting kind of makes me want to think less of her.  But, I’m a snob with a bias for dance that has to constantly remind myself that people have a right to and should pursue a life that they’re passionate about, because ultimately, motivation is born from passion, while complacency is born from prestige and money.  It’s like what the classical Chinese poet Du Fu once said…“without pork one only becomes thin…without bamboo, one becomes vulgar.”

But does the sun make noise?

Anyway, the best parts about this cameraman story are the dance sequences by the Joffrey Ballet.  They mostly contemporary works, some of which I don’t think the Joffrey has released on DVD elsewhere, so that makes it a decent buy.  You can even watch just the dance sequences in the special features section of the DVD (although they are still edited with snippets from backstage and such), which might even be the better option so you don’t have to put up with the in between fluff that serves no purpose since the cameraman story doesn’t have a plot.  If you’re cheap, you can do what I did and get it from the library, and if you’re even cheaper AND lazy, I believe all of the dances are posted on youtube.  My personal favorite is the opening dance, “Tensile Involvement,” choreographed by Alwin Nikolais.  If the molecules of a quartz crystal had a party, I imagine it would look like this:

However, there is a great variety of pieces, including a couple of classical pieces, a contemporary pas de deux, a salsa, a nifty piece to Arabic music, a whooshy solo using a suspended rope, and of course the ending dance which was BIZARRE.  It was very Cirque du Soleil meets ballet, and apparently the choreographer of that piece is Canadian, and Cirque is based in Canada as well.  I’m telling you, they must be smoking the bacon now, because they come up with some trippy, otherworldly costumes, with the finale of the piece being a monstrous ogre face with mobile hands as the set, and the hands grab at the dancers and the ogre face swallows them whole, like Hungry Hungry Hippos from Hell.  Not to mention one of the dancers, dressed in a purple unitard, doing fouettes with a purple balloon tied to her head.  Although that kind of seems like fun.

Speaking of fun, there is a fun little scene of the company’s Christmas party, where the dancers do imitations of choreographers and mock the dances they put on throughout the season.  Sounds like something I would do.  So there’s a little humor for the comedic, a couple of injuries for the morbidly curious (a nasty scene where you can hear a girl’s Achilles snap), and boobage for the bored boyfriends who are being forced to watch.  Curiously missing in the locker room scenes are any views of a male tuchus in a dance belt to even things out, but I suppose you’ll have to settle for James Franco (Neve’s boyfriend) as the eye candy.

Overall, I approve, and it’s a really good, authentic look at the ins and outs of a ballet company.  Although if you do dance, it’s obviously not earth-shattering, and if you’re like me at some point you’ll wonder when is it going to end, and I was actually confused when it did end, to which I won’t say more so I don’t “spoil” it (even though there’s hardly anything really to spoil.).  I mean, I’m all for the realistic portrayal, but I do wonder if they wanted said realistic portrayal so badly, why did they bother hiring actors at all?

But that’s too deep for a Sunday night.  So rent it, and feast your eyes on brilliant dancing by the Joffrey, and consider skipping the other stuff if you’re really interested in saving time.

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