Tuesday, February 12, 2013
The Company (2003 film)
Directed by Robert Altman and screenplay by Barbara Turner from a story by Turner and Neve Campbell, The Company is the story about the Joffrey Ballet company as they prepare and perform for various projects. The film is based on Campbell’s own experience as a ballerina as she stars in the film along with James Franco and Malcolm McDowell along with real-life people from the actual Joffrey Ballet company based in Chicago. The result is a fascinating yet wonderfully exquisite film from Robert Altman.
The film is about the year of the Joffrey Ballet Company of Chicago as they’re setting up for many shows of the year led by its artistic director Alberto Antonelli (Malcolm McDowell) that will include an elaborate show to start at the beginning of the new year. Throughout the entirety of the film, the story is about an entire company as they all deal with the expectations of their performances as well as other things while one of the dancers in Ry (Neve Campbell) is becoming a lead dancer just as she’s starting a relationship with a sous chef in Josh (James Franco). While there’s artistic disputes and other issues that occur in the company, it all comes down to the shows that is in display that leads to the climatic show for the start of the new year.
Barbara Turner’s screenplay doesn’t carry any kind of traditional plot as it explores what goes on behind the scenes where ballets, production designers, choreographers, and many other people do their hardest to put on a good show. Yet, there will be moments when something goes wrong as some feel that Antonelli is a bit of taskmaster while other dancers get injured in the process forcing their understudies to step in as they have to prepared for something like this to happen. For Ry, she goes from understudy to lead dancer by chance where she knows she has to prove herself to Antonelli and her peers. Yet, she succeeds while taking the time to be a waitress at a nightclub and have this relationship with a chef who is fascinated by her world.
The direction of Robert Altman is very engaging for the way he doesn’t just present the scenes in the rehearsal rooms, the studios, and other places but also what goes on when the performance is happening onstage. While Altman uses a lot of elaborate shooting styles in steadicam tracking shots, dollies, and crane shots to help display what goes on and off the stage. Altman is also fascinated by the dancing where he knows where to put the camera so it wouldn’t intrude into the dancing while using wide shots to help capture the presentation of the dance and the stage setting in those shows. The camera is always focused on the dancer and the movements to play out the sense of rhythm and beauty that occurs in the film. With the help of many choreographers, the dances are truly intricate in its sense of rhythm as well as the emotions that are displayed as Altman always has the camera showing what is on display in the dance. While there’s a few moments in the film where it lags a bit, Altman does create a truly mesmerizing film about the world of ballet.
Cinematographer Andrew Dunn does excellent work with the film‘s photography from the lovely exterior looks of the locations in Chicago as well as the lighting for the scenes in the studio as well as the beautiful scenery in the stage with help from lighting designer Kevin Dreyer. Editor Geraldine Peroni does brilliant work with the editing to capture the rhythm of the dancing with methodical cuts along with some stylistic ones for the rehearsals and dramatic scenes. Production designer Gary Baugh, with set decorator Karen Bruck and art director Craig Jackson, does amazing work with some of the set pieces inside the studio as well as the more elaborate staging for some of the shows that are on display including the film’s climatic show.
Costume designer Susan Kaufmann does terrific work with the costumes as a lot of it is casual for the most part while they are much more lavish and stylish in the ballet performances. Sound editor Eliza Paley does nice work with the sound to capture the intimacy of the dancing as well as some of the raucous moments in the parties and other location-based scenes. The film’s music by Van Dyke Parks is wonderful for its mixture of electronic-based music for some of the ballet music background while a lot of the film’s soundtrack consists of classical music for most of the ballet scenes as well as some other types of music outside of ballet like industrial at the club Ry works as well as many renditions of the song My Funny Valentine including a rendition by Elvis Costello.
The casting by Pam Dixon is superb for the ensemble that is created as it mostly features real dancers and people from the Joffrey Ballet Company of Chicago as it adds to the realism that is in display in the film. James Franco is terrific as the sous chef Josh that Ry starts a relationship with as he is intrigued by the world ballet. Malcolm McDowell is marvelous as the company’s artistic director Angelo Antonelli who is making sure things go right while being bit of a taskmaster as he also wants the dancers to be more enthralling and less pretty. Finally, there’s Neve Campbell in a remarkable performance as Ry as this young woman who gets a chance to be a top dancer for the company as she also finds something good in personal life as Campbell also reveals to be a very accomplished dancer as it’s definitely one of her finest performances of her career.
The Company is an incredibly rich film from Robert Altman about the world of ballet. Featuring splendid performances from Neve Campbell and Malcolm McDowell, it’s a film that showcases a lot of what goes on in the world of ballet without using any dramatic tropes or focusing on one character but rather the company as a whole. In the end, The Company is a superb film from Robert Altman.
Robert Altman Films: (The Delinquents) - (The James Dean Story) - Countdown (1968 film) - (That Cold Day in the Park) - M.A.S.H. - Brewster McCloud - McCabe & Mrs. Miller - (Images) - The Long Goodbye - (Thieves Like Us) - California Split - Nashville - Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson - 3 Women - (A Wedding) - (Quintet) - (A Perfect Couple (HealtH) - Popeye - (Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean) - (Streamers) - (Secret Honor) - (O.C. and Stiggs) - Fool for Love - (Beyond Therapy) - (Aria-Les Boreades) - (Tanner ‘88) - (Vincent & Theo) - The Player - Short Cuts - Pret-a-Porter - (Kansas City) - (The Gingerbread Man) - Cookie's Fortune - Dr. T and the Women - Gosford Park - (Tanner on Tanner) - A Prairie Home Companion
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