DanceView Times, San Francisco Bay Area edition
Volume 2, Number 3 January 19, 2004 An online supplement to DanceView magazine
The Inside View
Robert Altman's The Company
With The Company director Robert Altman created a gentle hermetically self-contained world into which reality bursts like momentary gusts of wind when opening a window. As has been his wont throughout his long film career, Altman blurs the line between fiction and fact when taking us inside a somewhat mythologized Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. In this case the approach served him particularly well. Ballet is an arcane universe but is inhabited by surprisingly human beings. The Company captures this double perspective with considerable success. One would only wish that the works shown in performance were of higher quality.
of a plot animates this otherwise sweet little film. It traces the love
and work life of an ambitious but amiable young dancer, Ry (Neve Campbell
who also co-wrote the story with Barbara Turner) and her chef boyfriend
Josh (an affable James Franco). But the real story, as the title indicates,
is the company. Altman weaves a richly textured fabric of off-stage life,
rehearsals and performances. Periodically he introduces little dollops
of personal drama. However, those never interfere with the film’s
trajectory. He plops them in much like close-ups on a face. It’s
an excellent way of bringing individuals momentarily to the surface without
having to develop characters.
No One Danced At My Mother’s Wake
No one danced at my mother’s wake. Not a single person found the screwdriver that might have removed the front door so that that door could be stretched out in the parlor to let an uncle tap out a jig or a reel as another relative fiddled. No one kept awake all night by her side to usher her spirit on, dancing about the room with her tiny body to help her get to the next world.
It’s not a surprise.
no Derry County front door, no parlor, not a stitch of food nor a drop
to drink at this sanitize wake in the New England suburbs for this Irish
American woman who could never fully embrace nor escape her origins. And
anyway, the uncles that might have danced were dead, and no one knew a
reel or jig to play.
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