Behind the Behinds

The famous Crazy Horse in Paris is billed as the best nude act in the world.  A combination of Vegas showgirl, burlesque, and Cirque du Soleil, the various teasing acts come off as quaint in this hardcore internet world.  The T is plentiful, along with lots of swaying A, but what more does a Crazy Horse show have to offer?  Art and obsession as pursued and shown by the harried director and his crew.

Director/choreographer Philippe is creating three new shows for the cabaret, coming against an impossible schedule, disorganized staff, and artistic tantrums.  Despite the odds, he greatly succeeds in the end, combining seductive choreography with visual invention.  There’s shadowplay and mirrors; coloured lights transform the dancers into living, moving sculpture; rows of bare bottoms become an undulating landscape.  Philippe’s artistic director, an admitted obsessive, steals the show.  He’s annoyingly uncompromising in pursuit of his vision and imparts keen observations on the nature of feminine seduction in one of his many enthusiastic rants.

Documentarian Frederick Wiseman sets up a mostly static camera, letting the craziness behind the Crazy Horse speak for itself.  The casual nudity shown offstage contrasts against immersive, intimate captures of the onstage performances.   The slinky dances are equal parts cheesy and artistic but always entertaining, as is this film.

Willis Wong

Crazy Horse
Directed by Frederick Wiseman
France/USA, 2011

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