Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Another movie I've been meaning to write about, and I'll do it pretty quickly: Robert Altman's The Company, which is no Red Shoes. Its no All That Jazz either. It's a tail-wags-the-dog movie, a story about life and love in the Joffrey Ballet, which is far more ballet than it is story, which amounts to little more than a sliver. Robert Altman, as Pauline Kael once said "works at the edge of his consciousness," and I think sometimes he picks movie projects the same way -- on a whim, whatever just interests him at the time. No one who saw Pret a Porter, for example, would believe it was the work of a man with more than a passing interest in fashion.

Here, I guess you could say, the problem is reversed and more beneficial: he's interested in ballet and that's what absorbs the movie. It's beautifully filmed and it's worth seeing for the dance alone, mostly, but you do find yourself getting a little itchy for finding out a little more about the sketchy lives involved. Malcolm McDowell plays the typically perfectionist artistic director -- an Italian named Antonelli, although there's nothing remotely Italian about him -- and Neve Campbell, who is responsible for the story, along with her mother Barbara Turner, who wrote the screenplay, plays a dancer who is in love with a cook. As in any ballet movie, there's a sense of the struggle of giving your all for art, but Altman seems to think that idea has seen better days and doesn't pursue it. He looks at bodies in motion, which is just about enough, but only just about.

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