An inside look at the world of ballet. With the complete cooperation of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Altman follows the stories of the dancers, whose professional and personal lives grow impossibly close, as they cope with the demands of a life in the ballet. Campbell plays a gifted but conflicted company member on the verge of becoming a principal dancer at a fictional Chicago troupe, with McDowell the company's co-founder and artistic director, considered one of America's most exciting choreographers. Franco plays Campbell's boyfriend and one of the few characters not involved in the world of dance.Written by
Andrea Barney <andrea808@hotmail..com>
The Malcolm McDowell character, Alberto Antonelli, is heavily based on The Robert Joffrey Ballet's longtime artistic director, Gerald ("Jerry") Arpino. Like Arpino, Antonelli is an Italian American former dancer who has gone on to run a prominent Chicago dance company (the chastising speech that Antonelli gives to an Italian-American audience while receiving an award was taken nearly verbatim from an awards speech of Arpino's). Many of Antonelli's turns of phrase in the script were taken from Arpino's speech patterns, as was his habit of watching rehearsals while sitting backwards in a white, open-backed chair that was reserved only for him. See more »
After the female dancer finishes her solo, a single male voice is clearly heard shouting "Bravo!" from the audience. The correct word is "Brava", the feminine of bravo. See more »
Some of the dances are tiny religious experiences. The film doesn't look nearly as good as some of Altman's others, but there are flashes of awesome beauty: a topless male dancer alone in a room with golden beams of light, and Neve Campbell in her bath. The movie looks at the queeny pretensions of the boys (and their fathers), the dancers' sex lives (who are more '60s than their instructor knows), and the company leader, played by Malcolm McDowell, whose occasional flakiness is caught by one black dancer. I couldn't help but think of McDowell as an Altman self-criticism: an elderly director working with small budgets, prone to artiness, who champions art as being organic, who rounds up a large crew of performers and calls them "babies." The day-in-the-life shapelessness of the movie didn't at all bother me, though one character, who asks to stay in a dancer's apartment, is dropped pretty quickly. And James Franco is in it. 9/10
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