Frederick Wiseman Reveals All
Veteran filmmaker Frederick Wiseman's cinema verite productions have taken us to many places we would otherwise not have been and shown us realities we might otherwise not have seen. He has been prolific, and the compelling subjects of his films are often difficult ones. Count among these Wiseman's first film, Titucut Follies (1967), an alarming expose of the cruel and unacceptable treatment of patients in a hospital for the mentally ill. Titles of other films, including Hospital (1970), Juvenile Court (1973) and Domestic Violence (2000) and Domestic Violence 2 (2001), among others, indicate the range of serious concerns Wiseman has brought to the attention of audiences over the years.
Now, at age 82 and still going strong, he's having some fun, and sharing it with us. In 2011, he released Boxing Gym, in which his cast of characters includes several amateur boxers who are training with a local coach in his gym. Some have professional aspirations and some are just looking for a focused and challenging athletic pursuit. The film is an appreciation of aspiration, rather than an expose about brutal intentions and behavior. With his observational approach, Wiseman undoes issues of stereotyping. How refreshing! And, compelling.
Et voila! This year, it's Crazy Horse, in which Wiseman reveals all about the inner world of the famous Parisian nightclub that presents the world's most applauded nude cabaret. The filmmaker's all-seeing fly-on-the-wall camera puts us in the audience, on stage, behind the scenes during showtime, rehearsals and down time, and gives us access to costume and wig fittings (what's nudity without the tease of some exotic and skimpy cover ups?), board room meetings and auditions for new dancers. We meet the show's director and choreographer and other principals and see how completely dedicated they are to presenting a show that is a perfect work of art.
And it is. And is the film, which is delightful, charming, fun, upbeat, funny, titillating and gorgeous from beginning to end.
Wiseman's approach is, as is his way, completely observational. He is, as always, unfailingly respectful of his subjects. He refrains from editorializing, and never makes judgments -- good or bad -- about the characters in his film. These Wiseman qualities are especially appreciated in Crazy Horse, which is about a subject -- naked dancers -- that has often been subjected -- in both narrative and nonfiction films -- to puritanical considerations and/or has become salacious in nature. That is simply not the case in Crazy Horse, which is, as already said, a delight from start to finish, and is another Frederick Wiseman triumph.
If You Like This Film, You May Also Like:
- Mitzi Gaynor Razzle Dazzle
- Dance For Camera, One and Two
- Every Little Step
- Gotta Dance
- Boxing Gym
- Man On Wire
- Planet B-Boy
- The Beaches of Agnes
- Title: Craxy Horse
- Director: Frederick Wiseman
- U.S. Theatrical Release Date: January 18, 2012 (limited)
- Running Time: 134 mins.
- Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
- Country: France
- Language: French with English subtitles
- Production Company: Idéale Audience / Zipporah Films
- Distribution Company: Zipporah Films
- Official Website