Le Crazy

Frederick Wiseman

Maybe it’s because the show, “Désirs,” that Fredrick Wiseman follows from creation and rehearsals to premiere, in his new documentary, “Crazy Horse,” about the legendary Parisian cabaret seemed to me part Rockettes (with bare breasts and butts) and part Joshua Light Show; or because it’s yet another masterful film by Wiseman (his 40th, 38th non-fiction); but most likely it’s because the beautiful women were literally dancers (not strippers cloaked in a euphemism), and undoubtedly with options available to them, had chosen to pursue careers at the Crazy, that the proceedings didn’t scream sexism in sequins.

In “Annie Hall,” Woody Allen’s cinematic alter ego tells a friend that he’s hyper-sensitive to any hint of anti-Semitism (and although the example he offers, his mis-hearing a simple, common question as, “Jew eat?” was funny, he wasn’t kidding). I am similarly on guard for sexism but watching the evolution of “Désirs,” staged by celebrated French choreographer, Philippe Decouflé, was fun and entertaining. Imagine if Wiseman had been the third major filmmaker this year to shoot a documentary in 3D.

And in my defense–just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after you. More than a decade ago, waiting for the first press screening of that year’s New York Film Festival to start, Manohla and I speculated how many films would screen before we’d be witness to the life of a prostitute, stripper or other sex worker and joked about programming the All Prostitute/Oldest Profession Film Festival. And as the lights dimmed, the first frame of the first film featured a gorgeous whore.

Jean-Luc Godard famously said that all you need to make a movie is a gun and a girl. Here, Manohla’s L.A. Weekly piece (with hilarious headline) on working girls on screen:


“Crazy Horse” will open on Wednesday, January 18 in New York at Film Forum.

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