Image: copyright Antoine Poupel
Image: copyright Antoine Poupel.
Image: copyright Antoine Poupel.
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The master of vérité takes a wry look backstage at the most chic nude revue in Paris (and enjoys the view from out front as well).

Year: 2011
Country: France, USA
Running time: 134 mins
Censor Rating: R16 - nudity

Producers: Pierre Olivier Bardet, Frederick Wiseman
Photography: John Davey


With: Philippe Decouflé, Ali Mahdavi, Fifi Chachnil, Andrée Deissenberg

Festivals: Venice, Toronto, New York, San Sebastián, Vancouver, London 2011

“In the wonderful CRAZY HORSE, documentary filmmaking’s greatest living master, Frederick Wiseman (La Danse, NZIFF10), completes his trilogy on iconic French institutions… sneaking into the private spaces of the legendary cabaret club the Crazy Horse. And in doing so, he’s made the most entertaining film in his 40-plus-year career. Wiseman’s dazzling romp follows ten amusing weeks of rehearsals and performances for the new show Désirs, staged by famed cinematographer Philippe Decouflé and a cast of memorably kooky characters who give it their all for art in the face of commercial restraints…

Employing a wide array of gels, projections and effects (polka dots, leopard patterns), the eye-popping numbers at the Crazy Horse are drop-dead cinematic, at times approaching kaleidoscopic op art. Wiseman wisely lets scenes play out in long takes and the viewer’s astonishment sinks in. He presents a sly analysis of how the Crazy Horse achieves the erotic without the vulgar and plays on the fantasies of the viewers, the dancers and the administration alike.” — Mark Peranson, Vancouver International Film Festival

“The beauty captured at the Crazy – of the performers, their motions, and the mauve, aqua, and marigold scrims that frame their silhouettes – is summed up in Andrée’s [the club’s managing director] definition of eroticism: ‘The ultimate thing is to suggest without offering oneself.’ Every shot and edit in Wiseman’s film also suggests without over-explaining, allowing a viewer to lose herself in pleasure, free to agree with or tweak Andrée’s pronouncement.” — Melissa Anderson, Village Voice


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