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The Company

Nicholas Hytner in his commentary for Centre Stage admitted that the reason he directed that film - for all its simplistic storyline and stock characters - was for the opportunity to film the dance sequences. Joss Whedon's inspiration for the Angel episode "Waiting in the Wings" was the same. I suspect Robert Altman may have had the same motivation for taking on The Company. The dances were not only the centre pieces of the film but the only pieces of any substance. The storyline consisted of vignettes with a barely perceptible throughline and the characters were mere sketches. That said, treat the film as pseudo documentary cum performance piece rather than narrative drama and it works quite well - not as engrossing as Altman's Gosford Park or The Player, but not as boring as his Pret-a-Porter.

Neve Campbell, the driving force behind the film, acquits herself well as dancer, actor and producer. Malcolm McDowell doesn't quite ring true however as the artistic director (although according to the commentary he plays a less flamboyant version of the real Chicago-based Joffrey Ballet AD). His accent seems to cross the Atlantic willy nilly. Almost all other parts are played by actual members of the Joffrey but they all come across as very natural on screen, thanks at least partly I suspect, because of the improvised nature of the film making, and partly because they're essentially playing themselves.

Later: After listening to the informative commentary by Campbell and Altman it appears I was wrong about Altman's reason for making the movie. While Campbell has the expected passion and knowledge of dance and the Joffrey company in particular, Altman confines his comments almost entirely to movie making aspects. His knowledge of dance is minimal and there's even a suggestion by him that he basically did the film for the money.

It occurs to me that The Company bears a strong resemblance to one of my all time favourite films, Fame. Both movies adopt a slice-of-life approach to a troupe of young performing artists. So why do I find this film to be only interesting while completely loving Fame? I think it's because Fame makes you care about the characters more, because it chronicles not only events but also change and because it also has music, song and drama, three art forms which I personally enjoy more than dance.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 15, 2005 6:57 PM.

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