As scandalous or scurrilous as an NPR tote bag, eighty-two-year-old observational documentarian Frederick Wiseman’s “Crazy Horse” manages to make acreage of exposed young female flesh dull. In recent work like “Boxing Gym” (2010), and “La danse: le ballet de L’opera de Paris” (2009), Wiseman’s focused on the human figure rather than the institutions’ bureaucratic processes that fascinated him in so much of his earlier output—”Hospital,” “Welfare,” “Public Housing”—but “Crazy Horse,” despite its attentive gaze at the processes of creating a tony, upscale burlesque review at a sixty-year-old cabaret with lithe, leggy young Frenchwomen, lacks lyrical lift. (Although there are scattered offhand moments that seem revealing, as well as a few observations like, “You don’t take chances with a naked girl.” Or “Naked Girl,” as the dancers seem virtually interchangeable, as does the insistent whiff of light masochism. Call it “The Story Of Oh Well.” 134m. (Ray Pride)
“Crazy Horse” opens today at the Music Box. The trailer below may not be safe for work.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.