128 minutes

It's fairly impossible to look at the latest work from master documentarian Frederick Wiseman and not see it as the reverse of 2009's La Danse. Where that was set within the sacred halls of the Paris Opera Ballet and followed the creation of a whole ballet season, Crazy Horse goes down the velvety stairs that lead into the world-famous Parisian nude-show cabaret to follow the creation of a new revue supervised by celebrated choreographer Philippe Decouflé. Crazy Horse is, though, a minor work - and this isn't meant as a comment on its subject, rather as the realisation that Mr. Wiseman's traditional method of reflecting a particular community through his highly impressionistic camera is not as finely tuned here.

     Slighter and less focussed than usual, the film spends far too much time on the actual performances and not enough on the backstage - though when it does is when the film truly soars, showing the actual compromises involved in getting such a revue up and running. It has always been on the "in between" moments where nothing seems to happen that Mr. Wiseman's work truly stands out, and there aren't simply enough of them here to make Crazy Horse more than a cheerful but second-rung addition to the filmmaker's illustrious body of work.

Director, sound recordist and film editor, Frederick Wiseman; produced by Pierre-Olivier Bardet, Mr. Wiseman; camera (colour), John Davey.
     An Idéale Audience/Zipporah Films production, in association with Crazy Horse Productions; with support from Canal Plus, Planète Plus and the French National Centre for Cinema and the Moving Image. (World sales, Celluloid Dreams.)
     Screened: DocLisboa 2011 official opening night, Culturgest (Grande Auditório), Lisbon, October 20th 2011. 


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