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January 14, 2012

CRAZY HORSE

Crazy-horse-movie-posterFor better or worse, viewers of Frederick Wiseman's undisciplined documentary about the Parisian nude review venue the “Crazy Horse” will never have to visit the landmark club.

By the end of the film’s 134 minutes the viewer has soaked up so many pert nipples and plump behinds that the entertainment factor of such exhibition is diminished beyond recognition.

Crazy Horse, a movie by Frederick Wiseman - News

Perhaps the most surprising tidbit the film proffers is the dancers’ aversion to touching one another onstage because such interaction crosses an imaginary line into something “dirty.” Good to know.

All the Crazy News - Famous cabaret Crazy Horse Paris

If the documentary comes from any primary point of view, it’s that of Philippe Decoufle, the club’s director and choreographer assigned TO the task of creating a new batch of dance set pieces for the storied revue, which has been around since 1951.

The film is made up primarily of performance and rehearsal footage of floorshow dances with names like “Baby Buns,” that are undeniably titillating. Footage of staff meetings reveals conflicts between Decoufle and the owners over the idea of shutting down the club temporarily to allow him to properly polish the complex dance sequences, which rely heavily on lighting and careful synchronization on the part of the limber dancers. Decoufle also goes head-to-head with the venue’s under-appreciated costume designer.

Dessous Dessus - Crazy Horse Paris

At about the halfway mark the film becomes repetitive to a fault. Extended scenes of dances, wherein tricks of lighting and costume emphasize breasts and bottoms for their own sake become abstract reflections on femininity for the editorial power of body-part curation. “Crazy Horse” left me feeling ambivalent about the dancers, the club, and a form of entertainment that attempts to elevate the art of striptease to another level.

There’s no question that there is a tremendous amount of artistic effort applied to the performances. But the much ballyhooed climax set piece, involving the dancers singing out of tune, drops the, um, bottom out of an already tenuous enterprise.

Daizy Blu - Dancer at the cabaret Crazy Horse Paris

At about the halfway mark the film becomes repetitive to a fault. Extended scenes of dances, wherein tricks of lighting and costume emphasize breasts and bottoms for their own sake, become abstract reflections on femininity for the editorial power of body-part curation.

Forever Crazy: Kelly 'Brooks-in' to the Crazy Horse. | ACME

“Crazy Horse” left me feeling ambivalent about the dancers, the club, and a form of entertainment that attempts to elevate the art of striptease to another level. There’s no question that there is a tremendous amount of artistic effort applied to the performances. But the much ballyhooed climax set piece, involving the dancers singing out of tune, drops the, UM, bottom out of an already tenuous enterprise.

Not Rated. 134 mins.

2 Stars

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