195. CRAZY HORSE (dir. Frederick Wiseman, 2011) (Hong Kong International Film Festival)
In LA DANSE, Wiseman explored behind the scenes of the Paris Opera Ballet for three years and the result was a hugely informative and engrossing documentary, albeit somewhat frustrating in its reluctance to let its audience really feel the time structure of the piece and understand how the ballet’s schedule moved from one production to the next. CRAZY HORSE is a much more simplified version of the same approach, pulling back the curtain on the famous Parisian nightclub, famed for its gorgeous nude dancers and innovative routines. There is no need to understand how much time is taken developing new musical numbers, and because of the brevity of each piece Wiseman spends far more time letting te dancers and the results of their labours speak for themselves. Not for the shy or modest viewer, there is no mistaking that this is a film about nudity and the beauty of the female form and as a result more than earns its Category III rating. That said, the film never feels sordid or Wiseman’s camera leering, and as a result there is little reason for audiences to feel embarrassed or shameful when watching this 150-minute parade of pert breasts and pronounced posteriors. Rather, CRAZY HORSE is a far more affordable way of experiencing the club for oneself, while getting a rare glimpse of the mechanics of such an establishment, from the choreography classes to frantically rushed rehearsals, to auditions and the inevitable tussles between the creative and financial interests of such a business enterprise. Fascinating viewing.