Barbara Robertson

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The Company Review


Extraordinary
Thank you, Robert Altman. Coming fast on the heels of one of the worst moviegoing years of recent memory, The Company appears like a wondrous beacon of light. (It even trumps Altman protégé Alan Rudolph's clear-eyed ode to middle class challenges, The Secret Lives of Dentists.) Altman casts his gaze upon the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago: their days and nights, their strict regime and straight-ahead pursuit of artistic expression, and the grueling physical toll of stretching their bodies to the limit. Opening with a modern dance number with performers in skin-tight costumes racing across the stage with multi-colored banners, The Company is like a direct appeal to the heart and mind, to which I can only exclaim, "Wonderful!" and "Beautiful!" It's a reminder of what cinema can do, and the poetry of the dancer's movements is corresponded to with Altman's visual panache, his use of vivid colors, his vividly imaginative framing.

It shames flashy movies like The Matrix sequels, which adopt surface style and frenetic movement but lack sheer, sumptuous vision. Altman's movie isn't just a pretty sheen ("I hate pretty!" snaps Malcolm McDowell as the head of the ballet company), it's a full audio-visual experience. For all the limbs blown apart in Matrix Revolutions it's got nothing on the Company dancers bandaging their bruised heels and toes, or the horrifying moment when a tendon snaps during a rehearsal. It's something we can respond to, relate to. It's emotion pictures, corresponding to the vibrant, emotive images of the dance.

Continue reading: The Company Review

The Company Review


OK

The title sequence of Robert Altman's "The Company," a fictional verite peek behind the curtain of Chicago's Joffrey Ballet, consists of a conceptual dance with rainbow lighting and iridescent strips of fabric used to create a constantly shifting web behind and among the lissome and lively dancers.

Their accompanyment is music seemingly harvested from electronic scales -- bloops and bleeps like something out of "Logan's Run." The cinematography provides the audience's perspective, as well as some shots from the back of the stage looking outward, some from just offstage, silhouetting performers in lighting from vertical scaffolds, and some from high within the scaffolding itself.

There are several such sequences throughout the film (they represent passages of time -- one performance for each season at the Ballet), but this first dance literally sets the stage. Altman is metaphorically announcing his intention to spy on every aspect of his subject from the locker rooms and practice barres to covetous company politics and interpersonal cattiness to calluses, injuries and affairs interfering with ambition.

Continue reading: The Company Review

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Barbara Robertson Movies

The Company Movie Review

The Company Movie Review

Thank you, Robert Altman. Coming fast on the heels of one of the worst moviegoing...

The Company Movie Review

The Company Movie Review

The title sequence of Robert Altman's "The Company," a fictional verite peek behind the curtain...

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