Series goes behind the stage curtain for an intense, unfiltered look at one of the most competitive ballet companies in the country, Ballet West, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Beneath the beauty... See full summary »
Renowned documentarian Frederick Wiseman profiles the doctors, nurses, physicians, and patients at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, as he watches medical staff work around... See full summary »
Wiseman, as usual challenges the viewer with an overload of information, presented via breathtaking images.
I learned about the screening of this film in a newspaper insert that appeared a week after free tickets became available for AFI FEST, courtesy of Audi. Applicants were permitted ten pairs of tickets! so not surprisingly no more were available...however there would be a "rush" prior to each screening in the series. When the lights in the the theater went down, this morning at 10:00 AM, it was less than two thirds full. The audience was probably made up equally of ballet and Wiseman film fans, and I think both may have come away with some dissatisfaction. It is one of Wiseman's stocks in trade not to offer explanations, and although there are some fairly obvious clues about scenes from the "Nutcracker", if there were any about the less well known ballets, they went right by me. Unlike his earlier ballet film we learn very little about any individual dancers. Much of the dialog is in French, with English subtitles with the speakers not always identified by name, adding to my confusion. The scenes with the company's artistic director are brilliant, especially the planning session for the visit by a group of major American donors. Transition shots whether of the Parisian cityscape or the curve of a staircase are always gems; and the inclusion of the opera house's beekeeper, again without comment, is an absolute delight. Over all, my quibbles are minor, I think this is a film that fans, both of the ballet and of Frederick Wiseman films will find worth viewing.
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