Description from TIFF 2011 catalog by Thom Powers:
Ah, Paris and its cultural splendours. Master documentarian Frederick Wiseman has already taken us behind the scenes of the city’s renowned institutions in films like La Com&”233;die-Fran&”231;aise ou l’amour jou&”233; and La Danse &”8211; The Paris Opera Ballet. In Crazy Horse, he pulls back the curtain on Le Crazy Horse de Paris, a landmark that has prided itself as “the best nude dancing show in the world” since 1951. Le Crazy Horse sets itself apart from the average strip club by adhering to exacting standards in choreography, lights and physiques. The erotic revue is composed of songs and sequences that blend traits of old-fashioned burlesque, Bob Fosse and Cirque du Soleil — designed not only for the enjoyment of men, but also couples.
For Crazy Horse, Wiseman turns to High-Definition video after four decades of shooting primarily on 16mm film. The format proves well matched for Le Crazy Horse’s colourful decor and flesh without flaws. Wiseman and cinematographer John Davey embed in this fantasy factory for eleven weeks to document all its components. During their stay, Le Crazy Horse choreographer Philippe Decoufl&”233; seeks to revitalize the repertoire. Even if an act like “Baby Buns” sounds silly, Decoufl&”233; takes his work very seriously. Like any theatre director, he yearns for more resources and strains against the company’s shareholders.
“D&”233;sir” is the name of the new show that Decoufl&”233; wants to perfect. But the word also reflects the multiple desires that go into the making of any enterprise. Backstage, the dancers entertain themselves by watching a clip reel of Russian ballet bloopers that evoke different aspirations. In front of the house, customers pose for souvenir photographs to commemorate their night of naughty escapism. Wiseman observes these moments without imposing commentary or questions, allowing us to derive our own interpretations. You can analyze the film for its themes of voyeurism or enjoy it as a playful, sexy romp. The experience all depends on your desire.
About the director:
Frederick Wiseman was born in Boston and graduated from Yale Law School. He has directed nearly forty feature documentaries and has received multiple honours, including the American Society of Cinematographers Distinguished Achievement Award, the George Polk Career Award, a MacArthur Fellowship, three Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and a Columbia DuPont Award. He is also an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His filmography includes Titicut Follies (67), High School (68), Law & Order (69), Welfare (75), Zoo (93), La Com&”233;die- Fran&”231;aise ou l’amour jou&”233; (97), The Last Letter (02), Public Housing (97), La Danse &”8211; The Paris Opera Ballet (09), Boxing Gym (10) and Crazy Horse (11).