If you are looking for a US DVD copy of the film (many are bootlegs) or CD Soundtrack contact me.
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Character Actor
Alberto Antonelli Malcolm McDowell
Loretta 'Ry' Ryan Neve Campbell
Josh James Franco
Harriet  Barbara Robertson
Edouard William Dick
Susie Susie Cusack
Ry's Mother Marilyn Dodds Frank
Ry's Father John Lordan
Ry's Stepmother Mariann Mayberry
Ry's Stepfather Roderick Peeples
Justin's Mentor Yasen Peyankov
Lar/Choreographer Lar Lubovitch
Choreographer Robert Desrosiers
Ballet Mistress Charthel Arthur
Ballet Mistress Cameron Basden
Mark/Ballet Master Mark Goldweber
Ballet Master Pierre Lockett
Ballet Master Adam Sklute
Stage Manager Michael Andrew Currey
Stage Manager Katherine Selig
Company Pianist Paul Lewis
Physical Therapist Julie O'Connell
Production Manager George Darveris
Toastmaster Marc Grapey
Bridegroom Keith Prisco
Neo Waitress Emma Harrison
Neo Bouncer Dwayne Whitmore
Bartender Danny McCarthy
Barfly Robert Breuler
Grant Park Cellist Larry Glazer
Grant Park Pianist Mark Hummel
Alec Davis C. Robertson
Deborah Deborah Dawn
John John Gluckman
Justin David Gombert
Suzanne Suzanne L. Prisco
Domingo Domingo Rubio
Noel Emily Patterson
Maia Maia Wilkins
Frankie Sam Franke
Trinity Trinity Hamilton
Julianne Julianne Kepley
Veronica Valerie Robin
Dana Deanne Brown
Michael Michael Smith
Colton Matthew Roy Prescott
Company Member Heather Aagard
Company Member Michael Anderson
Company Member Erica Lynette Edwards
Company Member Jennifer Goodman
Company Member Stacy Joy Keller
Company Member Calvin Kitten
Company Member Peter Kozak
Company Member Britta Lazenga
Company Member Michael Levine
Company Member Brian McSween
Company Member Elizabeth Mertz 
Company Member Masayoshi Onuki 
Company Member Samuel Pergande
Company Member Willy Shives
Company Member Erin Smith
Company Member Kathleen Thielhelm
Company Member Mauro Villanueva
Company Member Yukari Yasui
Apprentice Tristan Alberda
Apprentice Bobby Briscoe
Apprentice Orlando Julius Canova
Apprentice Angelina Sansone
Apprentice Jacqueline Sherwood
Apprentice Jessica Wyatt

Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Barbara Turner


1/4/04 Chicago Sun Times - Bobby Reed on being an Extra

Neve shows her nerve 
Campbell fought to realize her dream of dancing on screen 
New York Daily News 12/21/03 By Chrissy Persico

    To get her new film, "The Company," off the ground, Neve Campbell began acting way before the cameras started rolling.
    Why? Because in the weeks leading up to a series of meetings with Robert Altman - Campbell's dream director for this behind-the-scenes portrait of a dance company, which she conceived, produced, co-wrote and stars in - she dislocated her knee.
    "I'd been developing this project for seven years, and I didn't want my knee to make him decide not to do it," says Campbell, 30, a former dancer who retrained herself for the role. "I'd take the brace off my leg, stick it in the hallway and go in and pretend I could walk!"
    Her tenacity paid off. Altman agreed to direct.
    "I hit so big for a while and it was great, but I really needed to step back and take time with my family and friends and think about the kinds of pieces that meant a lot to me," says Campbell. She developed "The Company" with screenwriter Barbara Turner, interviewing Joffrey dancers who would later be her co-stars.
    "There have been plenty of dance films made with the girl in the chorus who wants to make it and does, but they're not really about the world of dance," she says. Instead, she and Turner imagined an "Altmanesque" ensemble piece, depicting "the discipline and things dancers go through physically and mentally and emotionally every day."
    Campbell portrays Ry, a rising star in the company, but she didn't get special treatment from Altman.
    "When we shot the film, I said, 'Neve, here's the new rules,'" says Altman. "'You don't have a dressing room. You're going to sit on the floor in between takes. You're not going to come up to me. If they [the dancers] think you're something special and not one of them, we're going to lose the soul of their performances and you won't be accepted.' And she did that. She couldn't have been better about it."
    The director, who initially turned down "The Company" because he felt he didn't have enough experience with dance, now calls the production "one of the best experiences of my life."
    "Having made 'The Company,' I'm now focusing on developing more projects," she says. "I will at some point have to do something that I don't love just to continue to sell the ideas that I have."
    She also hopes to direct. "She's a gutsy dame, but it doesn't show on the outside," says Altman. "She wears a different suit."

Painter goes behind the scenes to bring out the art of dance
November 9, 2003
By Lisa Lenoir Chicago Sun Times

    The dance studio of a company holds many secrets. It is within those walls that dancers work for hours, struggling at the barre, working out sequences, training their bodies to move seamlessly, eloquently to classical and modern compositions. Only after reaching perfection, guided by the artistic director, do they emerge exposed, flawless onstage, flowing through "Swan Lake" or Alvin Ailey's "Revelations."
    But thanks to the paintings of Peter Hurley, this world no longer remains a secret. He offers a behind-the-scenes look at the interworkings of a studio, with drawings and oil paintings at the Thomas Masters Gallery.
    More than 30 large-scale works dramatizing the skill, discipline and physique of the dancer appear in the exhibit. The images are so stunning, they serve as a backdrop in the soon-to-be released Robert Altman film, "The Company," which features the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. The film, which stars Neve Campbell and Malcolm McDowell, takes a real-life look at the challenging world of ballet. In the movie, the paintings can be seen in the office of McDowell's character.
    Hurley, 52, received an entree into this world through his sister Meghan, a professional dancer. At age 20, he began to study and dissect the ballerina's movements, the way Degas did more than a century before.
    "The subject matter is a way to work out the relationship with the paint and movement," he says. "There is an aesthetic beauty [of the dancer] that goes back to classical art. It's seduction for a classical artist to have that access with color and drawing figuratively."
    He watched his sister practicing on the stage of the Arie Crown Theater and he studied dancers with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Ballet Chicago. Each experience found him rapidly sketching and photographing and thinking about visual perspective.
    "What is stunning about the dancer is you feel they are gigantic onstage," he says. "But the women are tiny and the men average. Their proportions are designed to make them look monumental."
But his works do just the opposite, creating a mood where a dancer's frailty becomes apparent with every move. The canvas offers insight into the grueling gestures made at the barre, the interactions between the male and female dancers, and the solitary moments of a faceless dancer stretching on the floor. Using color and light, he is able to translate the form into a classical art.
    "I am trying to find the off moments a dancer has," he says. "There is a great beauty in the dancer's form. The stretch is phenomenal. The dancers already have a composition of beauty and form that excites."
    Hurley's exhibit, "Chicago Dancers," opens Friday and runs through Dec. 31 at the Thomas Masters Gallery, 245 W. North. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. An opening night reception will take place at 6 p.m. Friday at the gallery. Call (312) 440-2322.

9/7/03 NY Times - Robert Altman + Neve Campbell are quoted

New York (Variety) - Sept 24 - Sony Pictures Classics has come on board as domestic distributor of "The Company," the latest film from "Gosford Park" director Robert Altman.
    The picture, an inside look at the world of ballet, is set to go before cameras in Chicago on Oct. 21. It recently secured funding from two German companies.
    Among the producers is former "Party of Five" actress Neve Campbell, who brought the idea for the project to "Pollack" scribe Barbara Turner and will co-star with Malcolm McDowell and James Franco.
    "The Company" is an inside look at the world of ballet. With the complete cooperation of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Altman will follow the stories of the dancers, whose professional and personal lives grow impossibly close, as they cope with the demands of a life in the ballet.
    Campbell will play a gifted but conflicted company member on the verge of becoming a principal dancer at a fictional Chicago troupe, with McDowell the company's co-founder and artistic director, considered one of America's most exciting choreographers. Franco plays Campbell's boyfriend and one of the few characters not involved in the world of dance.
    "I'm thrilled to be going into territory that I have never explored before," Altman told Daily Variety. He was meeting with members of the Joffrey Monday in Chicago.


Ballets featured or rehearsed in the film in order of appearance.

  1. Tensile Involvement

  2. Funny Valentine

  3. Light Rain

  4. Suite Saint-Saens 3rd + 4th movement

  5. Creative Force

  6. The Blue Snake

  7. Strange Prisoners

  8. Trinity

  9. La Vivandiere (Pas de Six)

  10. Touch Me

  11. White Widow

Classic Lines

Since much of the dialog was improvised by MM I'm including all of it.

"Who are we taking about now? Oh, Ry, yeah. I thought you two guys were no...well hey, maybe you'd like to sit in this chair and run the company. Who's next?"

"Let her do what she has to do. Margot Fonteyn. You know Robert knew her very well? I knew her too, but not as well as Robert did. You know she was a dame? Deborah, we hear you doll. We just wanted you to be first. Edouard? Door. When you get this salad it's terrible. Who can do it?"

"All right Mark. Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Company! (claps hands) Let's remove all this crap from the wings here. You're gonna trip over it. Let's do it. Every time we tell you this. Never leave your stuff by the side of the stage. Mark you know we can't start with all this clutter. Well, you know...if someone falls over."

"Hold it a minute. W-What happened? I mean, you are all so pretty. You know how I hate pretty! Now, come on. I mean...lift - thighs. Lift up. Not so loady. And when you make those exits hit the wall. I want you to move out and hit the wall. You're not doing that. You're looking like you've got a load in your pants. But I love you all, you're great, OK? You're great, come on. OK."

"If there is any standing water on stage I want you to cancel the performance right now! Hurry up. All right, OK, good, all right. She's doing brilliantly."

"Ah, brilliant! Magnificent! Did you organize that storm? Fantastic. Really? I want to invite you to do a piece next season. Now where is she? Ah, baby. Now give me a hug. I'm watching you saying 'Who is that up there? Didn't I say that?' You know I've always believed in you, even when others weren't quite so sure, but always. You went to another dimension tonight. The storm! The storm! With the wind and the rain, it was so theatrical. You know you never would've known. Is this your sister? Oh, your mother! I can't believe this, really? Well you look so beautiful. I can see the resemblance. And this is your father too?  I see the resemblance. Oh, you're the father. Of course you are, oh I know. And you're? Ginger! As in Ginger Rogers? She wasn't so bad was she? Enjoy yourselves at the party. Very nice to see you and welcome."

"Do you know Lar? He's the choreographer. I'll call you. All right, good, good, good, good. Hello. Yes? Oh, no, no no. The protocol is this. You'll call the company, you talk to Edourd and then you make an appointment, thank you. Here's to you then. All the best to you. Honestly, people are so bloody rude, you know it's just too much really."

"Good, because I think you've finished. Ah Mark, would you mind staying please? And Shar and Harry would you stay too? Alright Robert is this going to be OK. We can use the conference table over there. Can you move that crap off there? Get rid of those bagels or donuts or whatever they are. Good, good, good. That's it. Good, excellent. Oh, look at that. Susie, what are you doing here? Out! Out! How many dancers is that? Can you do it with ten? Can we cut the tail off? Robert, I don't think you understand our financial situation here. I'm working with mirrors as it is. I believe in you, that is why you are here. I'm going to have to find someone to underwrite this whole thing. This is going to be so expensive. I'm going to have to sell it to the board. Um, would you excuse me...I have something very important. I'll just tell you - you are a genius. I'm never wrong about these things am I? Thank you. And Robert? Three things to remember - budget, budget, budget."

"OK, babies I gotta say something here. Mark, turn off the music. Why do you always do this babies? You always get phony on me. I don't know why you do that. This is supposed to be the sixties. This is what the sixties were all about - kids all over the country protesting against the war, trying to change the world. So...they bent the rules, they turned to drugs. They took off their clothes, they made a noise...peace marches...singing their songs in the streets, carrying their flowers when they were being beaten and pushed around. All that went into this ballet. You see, it's not the steps babies, it's what's inside that really counts. That's when you really begin to soar. You see, thinking the movement is not becoming the movement."

"Have a great day off. It was a wonderful show tonight. And don't forget, practice safe sex! Safe sex, babies. Eat broccoli and remember, no more chili concarni. Have a good break."

"Thank you, thank you, please sit down. Sit down. You know, I really deserve this thing because you Italian guys make it really hard for me to be a dancer. You know you didn't help one iota. In fact, I had to hide my ballet shoes and my Italian family...they gave me such a hard time. Well, listen, if your boys want to be dancers please, don't give them a hard time. That would really be a special award to me."

"I love allegro. If you can dance allegro you can dance anything - anything. If you are an allegro dancer - nothing you can't do. I mean, I know you've got what I call those ballet dancers that are in love with the lyricism and all that, but you know what I call them? Phony ballet. I hate it. I fight with these guys all the time. See, I wanted you. I wanted Ry for 'Snow Pie' didn't I? Then you went out and she aced it didn't she? See that? Mark didn't want her for 'Nelly Blye' and then he saw her in rehearsals. She was fantastic. See, I know where of I speak. I can't wait."

"Pierre, when you, when you get the skirt don't touch it. Don't reach for it. Don't grab it. There's twenty ways to get the material. When you pull it to you, pull like it is his child. Well, that was yesterday, now I want this. It's organic you see. See, it's organic, that's why it is so beautiful. You are discovering new things in it all the time. You see, here's the child. It's like...it's like you are giving birth to the world, hmm? There's the baby, there's the baby. You go down with the baby. Pick the baby up and then you are giving birth. No, no, no. You are mixing up babies here, that's a different baby. This baby is a metaphor. Giving birth, hmm? See, I like this honey. I like this. This is good. No, that's exactly what I told him to do. Are you arguing with me? Ry! We're done here. Honey, come on let's scramble some ideas instead of some asshole who contradicts me all the time. OK, now I've got a million ideas here for music. Adam, Adam? Go work it out with him, OK? How about a little contraction." 

"Well done. She's really lovely. There's something...I can't put my finger. She's right there, you know what I'm saying? There's something to do with style. Suzanne would you start from the beginning with this? Do it once. Julianne, that was lovely. Suzanne come on. See the height? Beautiful. Is she alright? She's alright. Ice, ice please. Emma, Emma. What!? Yeah, alright. Julianna we've got to get on. She better be because she's dancing it tonight."

"That's pretty formidable. (Claps) Babies, we need...both? Can you have two world premieres? No, no, no, no that's not possible. It's paid for. Oh, Harriet. I need to see you in a minute. Alec, are you dictating company policy to me? Edouard? Edouard? Do you have it? Is it hot? You know baby, you have to learn to trust me. You know we've laid out a good season for you. And what's good for you is good for the company. How long have you been with the company Alec? I hope not too. No, no, no I don't make threats. Well, you're no Eddy Sterling. Eddy Sterling was the future. Oh, yes, yes. At 16. He was remarkable. Such a terrible disease, so many losses. Bob...ah Greg Hoffman, beautiful...Glen Weiss you know. The only thing a person can leave behind in this life is a light of himself. I had high hopes for you Alec, don't throw the baby out with the bath water."

"Michael let's get rid of those chairs will you? Just carry on. I'm not here. Just show her. Just watch this Noel. Just watch where she puts her hips. See that?"

"Edouard? Just a minute doll. Carry on babies."

"Bravo, bravo."


Geraldine Peroni - 8/10/04
Robert Altman - 11/20/06
Gerald Arpino - 10/29/08


DVD Cover - front

6/1/04 Release date


Making of

In 2003 they put up a little behind the scenes video on the official site. I transcribed it below. This is also the making of featurette on the DVD.

Malcolm being interviewed

Joffrey announcer: Good evening ladies and gentlemen the time is seven o' clock, all visitors must leave the backstage area at this time.
Neve: Well, I've always been interested in making a film about the dance world because I was a dancer since I was six years old. It is my passion.
Announcer: Sony Pictures Classics presents a new film that examines the everyday lives of dancers in a rare and realistic look inside The Company.
Neve: So when it finally came down to a list of directors I said, "Well, there's Robert Altman...and moving on to reality." (Laughs)
Malcolm: And she got Bob and anybody who can do that you have to tip your hat to.
Altman: I didn't have any experience, I didn't really know a lot about dance. I thought, "Why shouldn't I go into a new territory?" So when I agreed to do it I was really walking into the fog.
Malcolm: Well, you ask any actor and they love him. He's a master. It's just great to work with a man who is so sure of what he wants.
Altman: I've never done a film like this before. "Nashville" would be the closest thing. All the singers were actually actors and in this the dancers are the actors.
Malcolm: He's a brilliant choreographer too, because he really moves the scenes. There's something happening all the time.
Neve: The things that intrigued him about the dance world just made me more excited because what he wanted was reality, what he wanted was the holes in the tights, the dancers in pain and to really get into the world.
Lar (film): And stop please. Are you working injured? 
Dancer: I'm having neck spasm. 
Lar (film): I don't think you should work injured.
Altman: I couldn't have the dancers acting like actors, so the actors had to look like real people instead of actors.
Franco: I play a chef who works at a very hip Chicago restaurant called Marche. I think I provide an escape for Neve's character Ry from the intense dance world.
Ry (film): Ry in the tub.
Neve: Although I guess he is one of the "it" guys now, he's an artist. It's not a massive role, but he's an artist and he wants to step into it and I admire him.
Franco: I'd do anything with Robert Altman because of the way he is making this movie. It is extremely realistic and it feels like we aren't doing scenes, he's just catching life.
Ry (film): What are you doing, you can't go on stage.
Altman: Neve's participation in this is quite phenomenal. She could be a member of the Joffrey - there's no question about that. She was here working with this dance company, the Joffrey, all the time.
Neve: I didn't want this to be a story about a young woman who is in the chorus and wants to make it and does and becomes a principal dancer.
Altman: And she's not the star of this particular story is not just about her. The star of the film is the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago.
Film clip: John, what are you doing here? I'm booked.
Barbara Turner (writer): The lives of the people that I meet, I talk to and see really form the material.
Neve: She went all out and got to know all the dancers and really got into their stories.
Barbara: I came in and sort of lived with the Joffrey for a while, a couple of weeks. I would sit in the studio and watch them work, went to their parties. Slowly the film began to construct itself. It became an ensemble piece about the reality of dancers.
Film clip: Mr. A - why do you always do this babies, you always get phony on me.
Neve: Well Malcolm is insane. (Laughs) And fantastically insane. His energy is just massive.
Film clip
: I always believed in you.
: Well, I think that he's (Mr. A) very passionately in love with the company and each and every one of the dancers - that's his life. He has ideas, he's rather gruff and he doesn't suffer fools lightly. But, I love him, he's a great character.
Announcer: The Company is being photographed in high definition video which allows for the use of multiple cameras and extended takes creating vibrant dance sequences.
Andrew Dunn (Cinematographer): This is my first experience working with high definition video. When Bob suggested it I thought with the idea if I can do it with anybody I can do it with Bob because he allows things to push to the an extreme. Watching the dance is a spine tingling experience for me, especially seeing it on this high definition monitor at close range is like I'm living the experience.
Altman: It's new territory for me. I don't think I can go back and approach film the way I did before I had high definition. I think this is going to forever change me.
Franco: It's a blast. It makes you want to do every film this way.
Neve: I really look forward to people getting to see a piece of what I love.
Malcolm: Bob is right. He keeps saying, "I think we've got lightning in a bottle." And I think we have.
Altman on set: OK, goodnight darlings, I'll see you tomorrow. That's a wrap.

The Passion of Dance

Exclusively available on the DVD from 2004

Rehearsal scenes: people doing steps, putting makeup on, exercising, dancers on stage, Ry with the balloon.
Neve: I wasn't going to act, I was going to dance that was all I knew when I was a kid, that was my entire word. Dance, especially classical ballet, you either can do it or you can't. Your body will either do it or it won't.
Film clip: full stage production.
Malcolm: Dancers are in their own little world and they are like (he makes blinders with his hands around his eyes)...blinkered, it's dance and The Company.
Neve: and you can't really take a break, there's not really taking time off from dance, when you are training and performing you dance every day except Sunday. You can't stop, if you take a couple days off you are two weeks back again.
Rehearsal scenes: a woman on the floor resting, dancers jumping.
Malcolm: They work so hard, it's such a physical thing they do, so demanding, They don't have that much time for life.
Rehearsal scenes: a woman leads a dancer on stage and counts.
Neve: It's really intimidating experience first of all to get back into the dance world and starts training again and then step into a company who've know each other for years, worked together for years and know all the choreography. That was really scary for me, but they've been unbelievably supportive.
Rehearsal scenes: dancers in red, group sitting on stage.
Barbara: They are exquisite dancers, they are amazing people, enormously generous, very warm.
The dancers are so disciplined, they are like handling one person. I could say I'm ready for the dancers, then phhht 40 of them are there.
Altman on set: Once the dance starts, the music starts, count 1, 2, 3 and then you carry.
Rehearsal scenes: Altman giving direction.
Altman: And if make even a little adjustment for the camera like you stand here, that goes into their computers and they do it every time.
Film Clip: a woman being lifted, then more carried by.
Neve: About the last three months before I got the job and came to Chicago I was dancing seven hours a day - taking classes, training, then learning all the pieces that I'd be doing once I got here. Then for a month and a half I trained with the company her in Chicago. Although I was in pain, I think it went well. (Laughs). 
Rehearsal scenes: Neve dancing alone in maroon top. Neve in gray and Malcolm who says "great" and claps. Altman and Neve posing for pictures.
Neve: It's really flattering to have the company be as generous with their compliments as they have been.
Film clip: Mr. A - she better be, she's dancing tonight.
Barbara: They don't get paid very much, but the dedication and the love is so extraordinary. The fact that these people are in pain all the time and the respect for each other and the regard for each other is extraordinary, and the joy, their joy is amazing.
Neve: I'm not going to leave it, I think, it's been great to find it again. I've got to try to figure out a way to keep dance in my life. There's always the sequel. (Laughs).

Gala Premiere - Chicago 11/20/03

    The gala went off well complete with a red carpet, klieg lights, photographers and news crews. Malcolm, Robert Altman and Neve Campbell arrived in limos for a reception followed by the film. Malcolm's wife Kelley was there too and she is pregnant. Altman got up partway through the movie, at Pipers Alley Theatre, to berate a manager to pump up the sound. After the film there was a Q&A session with the three of them and all were very gracious. Malcolm spoke very generously about the man whom he played - Mr. Arpino. Malcolm talked about how Arpino was at first shocked that Malcolm was going to play him. Arpino had envisioned Al Pacino (since Arpino is very Italian). Arpino said from the audience said that he was not disappointed at all. Arpino also said "and I'm the only one who wasn't allowed to be in it. Mr. Altman wouldn't allow it. I wanted to make a cameo - like Hitchcock does!" Altman did most of the speaking so there wasn't much else Malcolm said. Neve also spoke for a short time, but overall the Q&A was short as all were waiting for the dinner. It was at a wonderful restaurant called MK on Franklin Street, for oven-roasted veal loin followed by a party at The Four Seasons thrown by Altman and McDowell for the ballet performers. The evening raised $100,000 for the Joffrey and was chaired by Melissa Babcock and Deborah Beitler.
    The film looks great and it is really a love letter from Altman to ballet. He said that he was spoiled by the experience of working with us and didn't think he could top it. He explained that we would be pleasantly surprised at how the film will be received because it has already had wonderful European reception. Malcolm is really a knock out in the film as he is VERY FUNNY and very serious at the same time. It is a tour de force performance for him.
    Mr. Arpino spoke and he thanked Altman for this gesture of love and said that this film will do a lot for dance. Since I've known Arpino close to thirty years, I don't see Malcolm's role as a copy of him. Malcolm did an amazing job being part Arpino and part himself. There is a scene where Malcolm lets me have it and I couldn't help but smile because I liked him so much. He found his character instantly as he knew a bit about dance as a classically trained actor, but it was amazing how quickly he understood Mr. Arpino and the ballet world. You will love it. He is hysterically funny at times and I will never forget the experience and I will always be charmed by his generosity. - Mark


    The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago is named after one of its two founders. Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino who started The Joffrey Ballet in 1956. From its beginning, it brought a new American approach to ballet. The company began with six dancers who toured the country in a station wagon. Every day they drove to a new city to perform ballets created by Robert Joffrey. The company grew and became one of the world's leading ballet companies. It has performed in all fifty states and around the world. After Mr. Joffrey's death in 1988, Gerald Arpino became its Artistic Director. He is also the choreographer of one third of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago's original ballets. There are almost 300 ballets by more than 90 choreographers in the repertoire.
    In 1995 Mr. Arpino established The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago to carry on the traditions and legacy of The Joffrey Ballet. It is a world-famous ballet company that now calls Chicago home. The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago is often referred to as an American Classic. It performs masterpieces of the twentieth century, works by its founders Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino, and new and cutting-edge works of today. Its ensemble of versatile dancers moves with ease through these various styles. The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago has a unique vision for American dance. It blends the classical with the modern. It uses all types of music from Bach to rock. It incorporates new ideas and concepts. The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago believes that dance has the power to communicate all kinds of ideas, emotions and stories.


5/23/04 Exclusive follow up with Mark Goldweber
1/7/04 Exclusive with Mark Goldweber current Joffrey ballet master

5/13/04 James Wanwick with Neve Campbell
5/9/04 BT with Neve Campbell
5/04 Filmink Magazine Malcolm Interview/Article

4/11/04 Sunday Times with Neve Campbell

4/8/04 Pantagraph.com with Suzanne Lopez

2/1/04 Chicago Sun Times with Robert Altman

2/04 Tribute with Malcolm McDowell

1/30/04 Vancouver Sun with Neve Campbell

1/30/04 Toronto Star with Malcolm McDowell

1/25/04 The Sentinel with Robert Altman

1/18/04 The Courant with Neve Campbell and Robert Altman

1/11/04 Newsday with Neve Campbell
1/8/04 Associated Press with Neve Campbell

1/8/04 IGN with Malcolm McDowell

12/31/03 Chicago Sun Times with Neve Campbell and Robert Altman
12/26/03 Chicago Sun Times with Robert Altman

12/23/03 Chicago Sun Times with Neve Campbell and Malcolm McDowell
12/14/03 Chicago Tribune with Neve Campbell and Malcolm McDowell

11/03 Chicago Tribune with Malcolm McDowell

Mini Reviews

It is actually quite amazing in that there was no script and it is Malcolm, but it is not him. Malcolm is incredible in the film. It is about a day in the life of a ballet company. The photography is some of the most beautiful I have seen. It is like a piece of jazz. Not like anything anyone has seen before. It is mostly about the "The Company" but not like a documentary. Nor is it realistic. It is very highly stylistic. A lot of incredible dance sequences. Malcolm plays the artistic director and he gives an amazing performance - a very realistic performance. It is odd…you will see. - BK

Moira Macdonald - Seattle Times movie critic - "captures the pliés and relevés of a ballerina's life"

Elvis Mitchell - New York Times - "You're glad for what "The Company" does have to offer - Altman is blowing a kiss to the stage and the resilience of performers, and such gestures are often evanescent."

Baltimore Sun gave it 3 1/2 stars.



Ballet choreographer Gerald Arpino has died. He was 85. Arpino - co-founder of the famed Joffrey Ballet - died on Wednesday at his home in Chicago, Illinois. His death came after a long illness, according to Joffrey's executive director Christopher Clinton Conway, who did not specify a cause.

Geraldine Peroni, the editor of The Company, died at her New York home on Tuesday, 8/10/04 after reportedly committing suicide. She was 51. Altman says, "Her death is a big loss. She made my work so easy. She reads me better than anybody had ever read me, and, consequently, she did the work; I didn't have to. So it was a wonderful situation. But those things don't last."

When Joffrey Ballet supporters gather at the company's Jan. 24 "Lady in Red" gala in Chicago - featuring the vocal stylings of Our Town's own socialite/cabaret chanteuse Shelley MacArthur - they'll have some nifty auction prizes to bid on. Goodies include a chance to sit for a Victor Skrebneski photo, dinner with Malcolm McDowell (star of the Joffrey's "The Company" film) and the chance for a child to have an onstage cameo in next Christmas' "Nutcracker Suite" performance by the Joffrey. The upcoming gala, being staged at the Palmer House Hilton's Red Lacquer ballroom, is being co-chaired by Debbie Beitler and Melissa Babcock.

Sony pushed for Malcolm to get a best supporting actor Academy Award.

The Gala event screening for The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago was 11/20/03 and Malcolm, Robert Altman and Neve Campbell attended.

Director Robert Altman and stars Neve Campbell and Malcolm McDowell are all slated to be on hand for the Midwest premiere of Altman's Chicago-made ''The Company'' on Thursday at Pipers Alley. Since the film is about Chicago's Joffrey Ballet, it's appropriate the Joffrey's women's board, led by prez Maureen Smith and ''Our City, Our Company, Our Night'' gala co-chairs Melissa Babcock and Deborah Beitler, have organized the fete, benefiting the troupe. Tickets should go fast, as only a few hundred can fit into the relatively small theater at Pipers Alley - even less at the post-screening dinner with the stars at Michael Kornick's Tony MK restaurant on North Franklin.

From Toronto 9/03

The party Monday night at Seven (as in deadly sins) club on Richmond St. for The Company, the film conceived, produced and starring former National Ballet of Canada dancer Neve Campbell, attracted its director Robert Altman, co-star Malcolm McDowell and Salma Hayek, who chatted with Norman Jewison. When not on their toes, ballet dancers wear stilettos. Campbell's were alligator Gucci's.

On Tuesday, Malcolm McDowell and an assortment of Simple Minds were at Opus.

Did you know that two celebrity exes were partying right across the street from each other on Monday night? At Amber, in Yorkville, the divine Malcolm McDowell, here for Robert Altman's new one, The Company. At Babalu across the way, the Mona Lisa-ish Mary Steenburgen, one of the all-female cast of Casa de los Babys. When someone I know casually mentioned this to Mary, after he'd just come from the party where he saw Malcolm, Steenburgen, now Mrs. Ted Danson, replied: "We just saw each other this afternoon. He's the father of my kids. We're still good friends."


Robert Altman has been scouting Chicago as a possible site. The film is about a ballet company, and it will center on the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, its dancers and choreographer Gerald Arpino, co-founder and artistic director. In making the film, Altman will go behind the scenes to film the Joffrey troupe in rehearsal and performance. Malcolm McDowell will play the part of Arpino.

Robert Altman is also making the rounds at Chicago's eateries. Recently, he was seen dining on fish at Hugo's Frog Bar with actress Neve Campbell and actor Malcolm McDowell. Just last week, the trio was seen eating lunch at Miller's Pub.



Making of
Exclusive - Robert Altman joking with Malcolm on the set
Exclusive - Malcolm hanging out with Robert Altman on 7/4/03
Altman directing a dance sequence

Pictures from each of Malcolm's four scenes in the trailer
Mr. A laughing

Mr. A talking to a Ry in a group

Mr. A addressing the group

Mr. A sitting talking to Ry who's dancing

Mr. A/Ry + Domingo Rubio

Premiere Magazine Behind the Scenes - Exclusive larger scans
Group portrait of the actors and director in the balcony with Malcolm
Malcolm and Altman sitting watching the action
Dancers meeting with Altman with Malcolm next to him

A ballerina putting on an earring

Clapboard from 11/7/02

Altman speaking with his hands raised

Filming a ballerina

Neve sitting on the dance floor between takes

Neve on the sidelines clapping for the dancers
Robert Altman and crew filming the ballet from the audience

French Poster
MM from the TIFF
Malcolm promo Close-up
Neve, Altman and Malcol
m promo
Collage of Malcolm from the 11/19/03 press conference

TIFF 9/8/03 small picture of Malcolm
TIFF Neve Campbell and Malcolm McDowell

Press Release

The 28th Toronto International Film Festival ran September 4-13, 2003.

Toronto — The Company receives its world premiere as a Gala Presentation at the 28th Toronto International Film Festival. Directed by Robert Altman (Gosford Park, The Player) The Company brings the director's fluid, masterful camera-work to the world of dance. An ensemble drama starring Neve Campbell, as a gifted ballet dancer on the verge of becoming a principal performer, the stellar cast also includes James Franco and Malcolm McDowell.
    Altman's vision for The Company is an extremely intimate one. Neve Campbell plays an up-and-coming ballet dancer whose path to stardom is threatened when she becomes sidetracked by other interests. Shot in cooperation with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, the film brings to screen many facets of a dancer's life: the difficult daily work, the intense pressures of performance, the richly textured behaviors of the dancers – whose professional and personal lives grow impossibly close – and of course the sheer beauty of dance: exhilarating, kinetic, and thrilling.
    Fluid and sexy, intimate and alive, The Company is a love letter not only to artists who work in the medium, but to the people who make the performance possible, and to dance itself.

Press Conference

From the premiere at the TIFF 9/8/03.

    Before Neve Campbell was an actor, she was a dancer. A ballet dancer, to be precise, and despite her success on both the big and small screen, Campbell says her passion has always remained with the world of point shoes and sugar plum fairies. "I started dancing when I was six and stopped because I suffered a lot of injuries," explains Campbell. "I always missed it, and I never felt there was a film that depicted the dance world and represented dancers in the way it should. That's why I wanted to make the film, and that's why I brought it to Bob."
    The "Bob" whom Campbell refers to is director Robert Altman (Gosford Park), who stood behind the camera for The Company, a Gala presentation at this year's Toronto International Film Festival. Campbell devised the concept for the film, which is something of a love letter to those who make a living in the time-honored art of ballet and is set behind-the-scenes at the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. Onscreen, Campbell plays a dancer on the verge of being promoted to principle status, performing all of her own sequences.
    "I stopped dancing when I started the TV series Party of Five, so I had about seven or eight years off," she explains during the film's press conference. "When I started training for the movie, I was dancing eight and a half hours a day with a coach, and doing Pilates, and working on the choreography. When I got to Chicago, I worked with the [Joffrey] for about a month and a half and we rehearsed probably eight hours a day."
    The hard work is evident on screen, but is also appreciated by her fellow cast members - the real dancers of the Joffrey. "As time went on, [Neve] became one of the female dancers in the group," reveals dancer Deborah Dawn. "She was very polite in the beginning and stood at the back of the studio during class until we told her to come forward. As she became more confident, she became very equal with us."
    Altman - who teases Campbell by saying that he joined the project because, "they paid me so much money that I couldn't say no," and then later jokes that the film's budget was "zero dollars and 73 cents" - concurs: "Neve became part of the company. She did not have a dressing room, she sat on the floor with the rest of the dancers. She wasn't singled out in any way as a movie star."
    The director notes that his main objective for the film was not to tell a story, but to capture the dance world after the curtain goes down. "Dance is seen almost two dimensionally, because the audience is here and the dancers are there," he explains. "I wanted to get around behind the dancers."
    According to Gerald Arpino, artistic director and cofounder of the Joffrey, Altman achieved his goal. "He really gets into the point shoes, and into the whole ritual of what a dancer goes through during a season," he says. "The truth of the experience of what dance is about comes through in the film. And Neve, in the role, really becomes a dancer. There's a whole quality about dance that's not like acting. You become part of the art itself and she does it beautifully in the film."
    Arpino's role as head of the Joffrey is depicted in the film by actor Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, Gangster No.1), who took special pleasure in the power of the part. "I had no idea what an artistic director's life entailed, and it's amazing," says the actor, who shadowed Arpino for two weeks before shooting began. He continues, "When I was asked to do this I jumped, because I love telling people what to do. It's great behaving like an emperor in one's little empire, like Gerry does every day. He can just look at a dancer in a particular way and they'll burst into tears."
    This certainly sounds like a far cry from the sweet land of sugar plum fairies.
Kimberley K. Brown

National Post 9/9/03
    People were desperately eager to hear just about anything master director Robert Altman had to say about just about anything, even his new ballet film, The Company, starring our very own Neve Campbell .
    "It's a film, probably not a movie," he said gruffly, adding he was a little hesitant about the project, which is set inside Chicago's Joffrey Ballet, because he knew so little about dance. Campbell co-wrote the story and starred in the film. A former dancer, she practiced eight hours a day (and broke a rib) to get in shape for the role. She wanted to make the film, she said, because past films are not really about dance but are fairytale stories. "To me they don't commit to what dancers go through and how they suffer and how they are athletes and how they live with no money for their art."
    Malcolm McDowell starred as the autocratic artistic director, a character he based partly on the Joffrey's real-life artistic director, Gerald Arpino, who sat next to him at the conference. McDowell said he would really, really like to be an impresario in his next career.
    "There is an impresario bursting to get out," he shrieked. "I love telling people what to do and, of course behaving like an emperor in one's little empire, like Gerry does every day, it's such a power trip. It's great. Look at a dancer in a particular way and she will burst into tears."
    When asked why he wanted to do the role, McDowell launched into a story about hanging out with dancers at a pub in Covent Garden during his Royal Shakespeare Company days. "Of course, these ballerinas are very attractive...very attractive. I pull to go to that pub. I digress. What was the question?"
    Asked if non-ballet audiences will like the film, Altman shrugged. "I don't know. That's always a problem. The kind of films I make, Hollywood does not know how to market. And the films Hollywood wants to make, I don't think I would be very good at it. It's not that we're at war, but we are on different planets."


"He is a very creative person and he takes all that creativity from the dance floor and puts it into fund-raising, which is what happens. It is true that the sad state of arts funding in this country is that a dancer can be the lead prima donna of a company one day and is working as a waitress the next day at a club to pay the rent. They don't do it for money, they do it because they have to dance and that is all they can do or want to do". - MM on Arpino

"I'm in the red on this movie. I made nothing, and halfway through, I had to give up my paycheck so the dancers could get paid. Scream 3 is probably the only time I'll make that money. I won't make that kind of cash. It's so the opposite." - Neve Cambpell

"The fact that they (like the rest of us) will all ultimately be trumped by time doesn't diminish or compromise their efforts. It only enriches them . . . and us." - Robert Altman

"It finally occurred to me that probably the things I should be doing are things that I don't know too much about. If I were in it for the money, I would have made M*A*S*H 3 and 4 and retired." Robert Altman on the BB 5/9/04

Soundtrack - Track Listing

Cover Scan
Released 12/9/03 by Sony.

1. Elvis Costello - My Funny Valentine
2. Yo-Yo Ma - Bach: Menuett
3. Julee Cruise - The World Spins
4. Light Rain - Rabekin
5. Yo-Yo Ma - Appalachia Waltz
6. Chet Baker - My Funny Valentine
7. Marvin Laird - My Funny Valentine
8. John Zeretzke - Ray One From Creative Force
9. Curtain Calls - Van Dyke Parks
10. Kronos Quartet - My Funny Valentine
11. Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra - Saint-Saens: Pas Redoublie
12. Van Dyke Parks - Blue Snake & Zebras


The party Monday night at Seven (as in deadly sins) club on Richmond St. for The Company, the film conceived, produced and starring former National Ballet of Canada dancer Neve Campbell, attracted its director Robert Altman, co-star Malcolm McDowell and Salma Hayek, who chatted with Norman Jewison. When not on their toes, ballet dancers wear stilettos. Campbell's were alligator Gucci's.

On Tuesday, Malcolm McDowell and an assortment of Simple Minds were at Opus.

Did you know that two celebrity exes were partying right across the street from each other on Monday night? At Amber, in Yorkville, the divine Malcolm McDowell, here for Robert Altman's new one, The Company. At Babalu across the way, the Mona Lisa-ish Mary Steenburgen, one of the all-female cast of Casa de los Babys. When someone I know casually mentioned this to Mary, after he'd just come from the party where he saw Malcolm, Steenburgen, now Mrs. Ted Danson, replied: "We just saw each other this afternoon. He's the father of my kids. We're still good friends."

Just wanted to let you know that Malcolm is great in the movie. He plays Gerald Arpino but his name was changed to Alberto Antonelli before filming began. I don't think Malcolm wanted to imitate Arpino, but he really captured the essence. I really enjoyed him and his performance. He was as nice as can be. Neve plays a talented dancer who is not sure what she wants to do. It seems that she (her character) dances more to please her mother than herself. Altman did a great job and he is a genius. - Mark who was in the film.

Synopsis - Official

    Robert Altman follows up the stunning success of the Academy Award-winning Gosford Park with The Company, a look at the world of ballet as only Altman could envision it.
    Throughout his extraordinary career, Altman has surprised, entertained and challenged audiences with vibrant, freewheeling films that stretch the boundaries of the medium. With The Company, this iconic director brings his fluid, masterful camera-work to the world of dance. Altman’s vision for the film is an extremely intimate one: we will see the difficult daily work, the intense pressures of performance, the richly textured behaviors of the dancers -- whose professional and personal lives grow impossibly close -- and of course the sheer beauty of dance: exhilarating, kinetic, and thrillingly observed.
    The authenticity and richness of The Company is rooted in the unprecedented way in which Altman will shoot the film: with the complete cooperation of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. Screenwriter Barbara Turner (Pollock, Georgia) spent over two years on and off with the Joffrey, observing and writing. Joffrey dancers will constitute the core of Altman’s ensemble.
    The only actor who will be working as part of the Joffrey corps is Neve Campbell (the popular Scream movies and the television show “Party of Five". Campbell, an accomplished dancer, studied with The National Ballet of Canada before becoming an actress. She originated The Company, the culmination of a long-held dream to create a nuanced and realistic film about a world for which she has deep and abiding affection. Campbell’s role in the film is that of a gifted but conflicted company member on the verge of becoming a principal dancer. (Campbell has been working intensively with the Joffrey and will do all of her own dancing in the film.)
    Non-dancing actors will include James Franco (Spider-man, James Dean), and Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, O Lucky Man!, Gangster No.1).
    The Company, as Altman envisions it, might best be described in terms suited themselves to dance: fluid, sexy, intimate, alive. It is a love letter to artists who work in this singularly difficult and universally expressive medium, to the people who make the performance possible, and to dance itself.

My Summary

    An announcer is heard reminding people to turn off cell phones and pagers before the show starts. Then we see the ballet 'Tensile Involvement' with a group of dancers working with long colored ribbons behind a female dancer in yellow as a crowd watches. The colors shift from red to blue and a a male dancer switches with her. The credits roll as this happens.
    Then dancers begin to arrive at the Joffrey studios for class and rehearsals. Ry walks in with a guy and says the problem started when she asked Frankie on stage how long he was cheating on her. He says that's too much drama and he'll see her in class and as they go their separate ways. The man mentions to his friend that wasn't what he heard, she asked so how long you been f--king her and laughs. Frankie is waiting for Ry outside Mr. A's door and wants to talk to her, but she ignores him. There is a woman stretching alone against a bar in a huge dance room. Then women in various states of undress are putting on their outfits in the dressing room. The same thing is going on in the guys dressing room with new guys looking for lockers. A woman comes down the stairs to the room where the lone woman is stretching, so she leaves. Then Mark the ballet master gets ready to teach a class.
    Frankie goes in to see Mr. A about Ry. He doesn't want to be working with her anymore because they aren't together. Mr. A doesn't seem interested and concerned and asks him if he wants to run the company, then sends him on his way. Back to Mark's class as it's in full swing and Ry and a male dancer arrive late. On of the new guys switches spots, the lone woman has changed and walks out through the class. She thanks Lar on the way into his class.
    The first day of rehearsal for 'Funny Valentine' comes and two senior dancers are being choreographed by Lar. Ry and her partner are behind them as understudies. The rehearsal consists of the man lifting the woman high up in the air and the woman acts like she is dying and melts.  Lar asks them to do it again because he isn't happy with the woman's performance, she is over working it and wants her to work it on the body before the face. They repeat it and he moves over to direct them, then stop. He asks her if she is working injured. She admits that she has been having neck spasms, but thinks it will go away. Lar tells her he doesn't want her working injured, wants her to rest and calls Ry and Domingo over. He asks who she is and if she can do the role. She says she can. They go through the same moves and Lar is happy with Ry and says she has been paying attention. It is a solo piece they will be performing together after the main ballet. The injured dancer goes off to the back and puts ice on her neck.
    Mr. A (Antonelli), the Joffrey director, has a meeting with some of the other leaders of the company and offers the lead to it's oldest dancer, Deborah, who is 43. One woman says all the younger dancers look up to her and she could do some moves and maybe inspire them. Deborah says she doesn't improvise and only does what she is told. She feels that the lead role in 'Light Rain' requires her to work and that she would look like she was working instead of performing it effortlessly. She is sorry, but she declines. Mr. A understands and he just wanted to be sure she was offered the part first. She leaves and he asks his staff who can get they can instead.
    The next day are the rehearsals for 'Suite Saint-Saens' which is to be held outdoors. They are doing the 4th movement of 'Sweet Sassoon'. The stage is covered with an overhang, but the audience will not be. Mr. A is there to direct it along with a couple ballet masters. He gets upset with the dancers for leaving their belongs on the sides of the stage because he doesn't want them to trip over them. He also gives Mark the ballet master a hard time for not taking care of that first. Now the rehearsal is ready to begin. Suzanne gets complimented by one of the woman, but Mr. A stops them all. He says they are all so pretty and they know he hates that, but he loves them all.
    The next night is the performance of 'Suite Saint-Saens' at Grant Park. This is a ballet with a mock storm and we see the audience is out in the open and the wind is picking up and a real storm is coming. The performance finishes and now it is Ry's big chance. The leaves are starting to blow on the stage and the rain is staring to lightly fall. The chairs are 75% full and the crowd becomes so entranced by the performance that no one leaves when the rain does come. Instead they all put up umbrellas and the show continues. Mr. A gets worried and sends his assistant to find out if the water is pooling up on stage. If it is he wants the show to stop right away. She runs off and finds out that everything is under control and the stage is fine. The performance continues to the end and there is a rousing standing ovation.
    After the performance backstage is a mad house. Everyone is congratulating each other especially on how a real storm suddenly came up for the performance. Ry has changed her clothes and is with her mother who is so proud of her. She is there with her new husband and Ry's father is also there. Many come over to talk to her and finally Mr. A makes his way over. He tells her he has always believed in her even when others have not. He charms Ry's mother by asking if she is Ry's sister. He also meets her father, the step father and Ry's real sister. He jumps from one to the next without missing a beat and then leaves for the after party.
    At the party Lar congratulates Ry and asks her how she felt about her performance. She is happy and thinks she felt good about it and wants to know what Noel thought. She is also pissed she was the last one to find out about them. She says she didn't know about them at all. Then a mentor comes over to Mr. A about getting his pupil Justin the new position in the company. He waves him off and says no. That is not the protocol. He must call up Edouard and make an appointment first. After they leave Mr. A remarks at how rude he was.
    There is a bridal shower at a fancy restaurant called Marche for Suzanne of the company dancers who is Ry's good friend. She sits next to her at the table and catches the eye of Josh who is a chef there. At one point a gift she receives is a micro leather mini skirt. She says it is more Ry's style and Ry pretends to try it on. Afterwards she notices Josh looking at her. The next ballet we see her in is called 'Creative Force'. All are wearing red outfits and she doesn't have a lead role. 
    The next night Ry is at her apartment which is right next to the Chicago L Train. We can even see and hear the train through the window when it goes by. Ry's mom is there and she is getting on Ry's case to press Mr. A for a lead role that he promised her. Ry isn't interested in her train of thought as she is too busy getting ready to go out. She is wearing all black including high black shoes and a shoulder length black wig. It looks like she is going out for a good time. Ry's mom doesn't like her shoes though and thinks they aren't good for her dancing feet. Ry whisks her out of the apartment as she has to go. It turns out she isn't going on a hot date, but to her night job at the club Neo - a trendy electronica type rave club where she waitresses for extra cash.
    After work Ry goes over to a back room to shoot some pool by herself. Josh comes in and sits at the bar and watches her. He decides he can get closer if he sits in a nearby phone booth and pretends to make a call. She is serious about playing as she chalks up the stick and her thumb and forefinger. He sits and watches for a while as she sinks a bunch of shots. He goes back to the bar and she finally catches him eying her. She smiles as he continues to watch her.
    The next morning Ry awakes and runs to the kitchen to fix breakfast. Next we see Josh getting up, putting on his pants. It is obvious he has spent the night. She grabs some eggs and he comes over shirtless and tells her he better let him make breakfast. She is surprised, but readily agrees. She says she can make toast and coffee which is fine with him. He breaks a few eggs into a cup and asks how she likes them. She says any way is fine. He asks her what she has in the fridge and she comes up with some tomatoes which he says is good. She also has a pepper and garlic powder which he says is not good. He asks for an onion, but she has none. After all this the toast pops up and it is a bit burned. At the same time we see Alec is madly dancing alone in a rehearsal room at the company for 'Strange Prisoners'.
    The next day Mr. A is having his first meeting with Robert, a choreographer from Canada whom he thinks is a genius, but first he has to clear most people out of the meeting room who are already there. All Robert has for now are large drawings he has made, no music or anything else and Mr. A says he can put them on the table. The ballet he wants to do is called 'Blue Snake' and requires twenty dancers to carry a giant blue snake around at the beginning against a black background. This will make it look like it is floating. Mr. A wants to know if they can get away with ten dancers or cut the tail off because of the budget. Robert says it isn't possible. Mr. A tells him he doesn't understand that they can't afford a big budget and they are cutting everything tight as it is. Suddenly Mr. A has to run and Robert is left with the staff. They ask about the music and he says it isn't written. They ask then how they will rehearse. He tells them he wants the dancers to feel it without music.
    Some dancers are enjoying a night out by bowling. One girl shows off by doing dance moves as she bowls. Josh gets there late and Ry introduces him to everyone. He is ready to bowl, but doesn't have any bowling shoes. When he gets up he throws the ball and falls flat on his ass and everyone laughs, but at least he knocks down nine pins.
    Then we get a quick shot of the end of the wedding of Ry's friend. Later there is a rehearsal with six couples for 'Trinity' that Mr. A is directing. He sits in his chair and then suddenly gets up and halts everything. He tells them they are being phony and explains to them what the 60s were all about - protest, breaking the rules, drugs. He tells them it isn't the steps, it is what is inside them that really counts. Then we see them performing the ballet in front of an audience.
    Next we see the dancers celebrating in their dressing rooms after the show. There is Champaign flowing and good spirits all around. Mr. A comes over the PA system to congratulate them and remind them to practice safe sex since they are getting some time off.
    Ry is home taking care of the bunions on her feet and decides to take a bath. She is sitting in the tub when Josh comes in and scares her. She asks how he got in and he explains that she gave him a key. He tells her he needs a bath too and she tells him no way. While waiting for her he goes over to the VCR and puts in a tape and with young girls dancing. Ry gets out and puts on a robe and asks what he is watching, but he doesn't know. She tells him he can't watch it because it is a tape of her being geeky when she was six years old and overeager. They both laugh watching it.
    Next we find out that Mr. A has won the Italian-American of the year award and he is at a special dinner in his honor. When he gives his speech he tells them he deserves the award because it is hard to be an Italian and a dancer because your family gives you such a hard time. His real reward would to be able to have more families allow their sons be dancers.
    John is a new dancer and he is going to an apartment where other dancers stay when they have nowhere else to turn. He knocks and Susie Cusak, who is in charge, tells him she doesn't really have much room. He says he will only stay for a couple of days and he has a sleeping bag so he can stay on the floor. She finally agrees and tells him it is $8.50 a day and he is last in line for bathroom privileges. She is surprised to see him because she thought he was going to stay with his aunt. He says she committed suicide. She is shocked and asks if it was gruesome. He says nothing like that, she just took a lot of pills.
    The next morning Ry is in Mr. A's office and he tells her to be an allegro dancer since there is nothing they can't do. He wanted her for the lead in the next ballet, but someone else aced it and he had to give it away. Before any protests can be made he suddenly leaves.
    There is a rehearsal later for 'Touch Me' with Mr. A and two black dancers in long white skirts. Mr. A doesn't want it to look like they are reaching when they lift their skirts. Pierre, the effeminate lead dancer, gets upset with this. He wants to know how can they pick the skirts up without reaching for them. Mr. A says it can be done twenty ways and when the second dancer does it how Mr. A said he likes it. Pierre gets all upset saying that is the way he did it yesterday and Mr. A didn't like it then. Mr. A says it is a new day and it should look like they are giving birth. Pierre says a man cannot give birth and Mr. A is ruining the two hours they spent rehearsing. Mr. A doesn't want to argue. He curses him and sends him out and let's Ry in.
    The next night there is a dress rehearsal on stage for La Vivandiere (Pas de Six). and Mr. A is there to supervise. Julianne is doing the moves in front of everyone and Mr. A says it is right, but the style is off and he can't put his finger on it. He has her stop and wants Suzanne to show her the moves. Suzanne reached a good height when she jumps that Mr. A likes until she comes down wrong and everyone hears a crack because her Achilles tendon snapped. They get ice and have to carry her off. Julianne now has to perform it because the ballet is that night. The next scene we see some of the finished ballet.
    The next day we are back in Mr. A's office and they are discussing where to have the 'Blue Snake' premiere. Alec wants to do it in two places so he can have the lead in one, but Mr. A says they can't have two world premieres. Mr. A then cuts him off because he doesn't want to be dictated to. Mr. A checks on his lunch and comes back and tells him he needs to trust him because that is what is good for the company. Alec only wants what is good for himself though. They don't really like each other and both hopes each will be gone soon even though Mr. A had high hopes for him.
    Later all the dancers are gathered for the Christmas Party and the 5th Annual Christmas Roast. Josh comes in with a gift and watches Ry. The roast consists of the dancers doing skits making fun of each other. They reenact the scene with Mr. A scolding the dancers about the sixties and they turn it into a mock orgy that Ry is involved in. The even spoof Ry's Grant Park piece. Mr. A and the other leaders are not involved.
    Back at the dancers apartment in the middle of the night we see John trying to sleep on the floor in his sleeping bag surrounded by others doing the same. At one point the lady who runs the apartment tip toes out of her bedroom and is looking for a condom. No one has one except for John. After he gives her two, she says she only needs one and that he can stay for as long as he needs to.
    Charthel Arthur is working with a Noel who is rehearsing 'White Widow' on a harness that is hanging from the ceiling by a rope which enables her to spin in the air. Mr. A comes in to see how it is going, but wants them to pretend like he isn't there. Right after that he takes over and has Mike moves chairs out and says Noel isn't moving her hips the right way. He tells Dana to show Noel how to move her hips properly.
    Then we see the final ballet and how gracefully the dancer is able to swing through the air. The next rehearsal for 'Suite Saint-Saens' is run by Mark in a small room with a piano player and he is instructing Deborah and her partner in the moves. He wants her to do the move on six, but she says she always does the move on five. Mr. A walks in, sits down and says nothing. Mark says he was watching an old video where the move was on six and he thinks it would be great to put it back in. Deborah goes over to Mr. A to see what he thinks, but he immediately calls for Edouard who gives him his coat. He leaves and tells them to carry on. Deborah says she has been doing the ballet for ten years and obviously Mr. A likes it the way she does it.
    Another day shows Robert giving his first rehearsal to the company. They are all sitting on the floor as he pulls Mr. A's chair up and sits in it. This makes all the dancers laugh and as he starts speaking he notices they are all distracted. Someone points out to him that he is sitting in Mr. A's chair. He immediately understands the power of the man and his chair and puts it back and takes another. He explains to them about how the music will sound.
    It is now nighttime on New Year's Eve. Josh is working at his restaurant and people can see him through the glass. Some wave and wish him a happy new year as they pass. When he gets off work he walks over to the Neo where Ry is working. She has a top hat and many lights on her and is on the other side of the bar and Josh can't get over to her. It is around midnight and using his hands he asks when she will be home. She tells him in one hour and he says he will meet her at her place. When she returns home it is after 2AM. She is sorry, but she just couldn't get off work. Josh doesn't hear her because he fell asleep on the couch waiting for her and had made a romantic candlelight dinner. She goes to the table to check it out and instead of eating she just curls up with him on the couch.
    The next day is the full costume rehearsal for the Blue Snake. Eight male dancers are in their red bird costumes. It is a week away from the big show and Robert says that Justin isn't looking comfortable with the moves and he is out. He has him replaced with his understudy Mike. Justin is totally depressed that he has been fired. When then see Ry doing her rehearsal in a purple costume with a balloon attached to her head. 
    A woman sees the dejected Justin sitting on the couch in the next room and tells him he wasn't fired, he was just replaced in this ballet and there will be others. Justin calls his mentor and he comes and gets him. He mentor yells that he will sue the company because of this.
    The dancers are all excited and getting themselves ready backstage. The announcer says it is now 7pm and all visitors must leave the backstage area. Ry is there painting her face blue for her first big scene in the Blue Snake. Twenty dancers carry sticks that hold up the blue snake as it floats around stage because they are wearing black and can't be seen. There is a giant that fills the entire back of the stage and has large arms that come out on both sides. At one point it grabs some of the dancers and eats them. It also moans and has smoke coming out of it. Ry wears an all blue costume of something like a porcupine bird with large yellow spikes on the back. She does her scene with her mother happily watching in the audience and Mr. A in the balcony. Ry leaves and does a quick costume change on the side of the stage with some others and puts on her purple balloon head costume as someone paints her face with a silver stripe. She does her solo routine and everything is going well until she falls hard on her arm near the side of the stage. She is helped off and someone else is quickly put into her costume to replace her in the finale. Ry is taken to the bathroom, iced down and her arm in a sling because she has sprained it. Josh arrives on the other side of the stage with flowers and sees Suzanne who is still on crutches from her Achilles tear. He asks if there is any way to the other side and she says not without a costume. He sees Ry on the opposite side and is worried about her arm. She signals that she fell on it and sprained it. The show ends and Josh sneaks across as the dancers are taking their bows which leads some to wonder who he is. It turns out he cut his finger while slicing lettuce, so now they are both injured. The End.

My Review

    This is a perfect look into what it takes to pull a ballet off. It's not like a normal movie as it is closer to a documentary. It is like they set up some cameras around the Joffrey and recorded what happened. We get to be a fly on the wall for all the action that takes place. A rehearsal here, an argument there, a meeting here and the final ballet there. 
    I want to address each of the criticisms in all these "professional" reviews that I've read. First they say there is no story. I guess this is the same complaint they made about '2001: A Space Odyssey.' When a director goes off the beaten path just a step they can't take it. Yet there are endless complaints about how Hollywood is churning out the same types of remade dreck year after year and when a movie comes along that doesn't focus on one character then they say there is no story or it is boring. I think these are the same people who say they don't care about the 'making of 'extras on DVDs. The story is about the company as a whole, not individual people. Just like if you had a story about the Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys it would be about the team. Of course there are star players, but one person is not a team. One person can't play the whole game by himself. That is what we see here - a group effort to pull this thing off. If someone gets hurt another steps in to take their place. It is not about being a star or something insidious or jealously, it is just that the show must go on. It is understood that it is part of the trade. If one dancer can't cut it and an understudy can do it better, then one is in and the other is out. There are no hard feelings amongst the older dancers. Only Justin who is young and spoiled rotten is the exception to the rule.
    Other reviewers complained that is is just plain boring. Are they the people who line up like zombies for the next insipid episode of the latest reality sludge? Like who's screwing who on 'The Real World', who is getting kicked off the island on 'Survivor', who choked on 'American Idol' and on and on. And that reality is just fantasy since the people know the cameras are there. Here this fantasy is based on reality. All the dancers here are real and all the scenes are based on true stories. The writer followed the company around and collected the best scenes. There is intrigue like when the storm comes at Grant Park or when people get hurt and others have to replace them or get fired. There is conflict like when Mr. A argues with Pierre about the routine with the dresses. The thrill of victory - Ry's Grant Park performance and the agony of defeat - when Ry sprains her arm near the end. Music, dancing, life...is open to interpretation, but since when is art ever boring?
    Some reviewers complained that the plot is just stolen from 'Red Shoes" where a principal dancer gets hurt and the subordinate becomes the star. First they say there is no plot, then they say the plot is stolen?! Yes, Ry gets a break when the lead dancer's neck hurts, but it doesn't win her any lead roles. Even though her mother and Mr. A push for them, they never materialize. In the end she too gets hurt and is replaced - it goes full circle. Even though Neve is the only professional actor in the dance troupe the story doesn't revolve around her. It seems people are confused about this. Ry is certainly not in every scene and isn't on the screen alone that much at all. She isn't even the only dancer shown outside the theater. Most scenes that she is in many other dancers are in as well.
    Some reviews complain that "My Funny Valentine" was played ad nauseam throughout the film. If that is true I didn't notice it. I only really noticed it in the bar when Ry was shooting pool. Otherwise it was in the background like during her performance so it certainly didn't hit you over the head. Are people just looking for reasons to nitpick? Are they confusing the CD with the film?
    Many interviews and reviews like to regurgitate the same story that Neve was a real ballerina and had to train for the role and it was her idea, etc. What they fail to mention is that for someone to put up the time and money to make a vehicle for their art it is amazing that she didn't shove herself down our throats. It takes humility to put yourself in a role that isn't the lead when the film is her baby. Sure she gets top billing on the posters and credits, but she isn't there to steal the show in the film. It isn't Neve saying, "Look at me! Look how great I am!" She really is able to demonstrate range, love of dance and that she isn't just the 'Scream' girl or whatever Hollywood has labeled her. She is not just convincing as a dancer, she is a dancer and dives into a role that is essentially unglamorous to her and for her career. It is not a role that will win Oscars or be embraced by the Hollywood crowd. It doesn't matter though because in the end she did a great job. I hope her performance here opens the doors to other roles that she wants.
    James Franco's role is small and is just to show that Ry has a bit of a life outside the theater. He is more of a background player, but he knows it and does the job the way he should. He is comfortable not being in the spotlight and doesn't chew the scenery or steal the show when he is on. At the end he goes out on to the stage when he isn't supposed to, but isn't isn't because he wants to be seen, it is to get to his girlfriend whom he is worried about. The only fault with his character and it could be said the same for Ry is that they built their relationship on sex. They don't even date, it is just a pickup in the bar and the next thing you know he is staying the night and he has his own key soon after. This is never a good idea, but I think they were trying to say that Ry was vulnerable and on the rebound.
    The one thing that most reviewers get right is that Malcolm steals the show. He was in his element here and does an incredible job. You are certainly convinced he is the dictatorial company director. He handles everyone with aplomb and throws out compliments, but knows at the end of the day that he's the one in charge. Right from his first scene we see he's in command and isn't interested in trivial things, he's got a big job to do. Sometimes he tries to be the peacemaker like when he told Ry he fought for her to get a role, but I think he is a bit phony sometimes. When he is complimenting her family and laying it on thick that is just to make a good first impression with someone who did a good job. We see the polar opposite when the mentor butts in at the party trying to get his pupil into the company and he blows him off and calls him rude. He doesn't ever admit he is wrong and is willing to fight for what he wants instead of compromising. When he tells Pierre to do what he says and he isn't listening, he tells him to leave and calls him an asshole. It is obvious that this is a man whose bad side you don't want to be on. Even if you are his friend though you aren't spared his wrath. He gives it to Mark and his assistants when he wants the conference space in the office by telling them to leave. He is doing what he believes is right to make everything happen, but it makes him closer to a villain than a hero. He is certainly more feared than respected. Even when he wins an award he isn't grateful and gives them a hard time. This is the only scene in the film that just didn't work because they were presenting Mr. A with the Italian-American award. Malcolm is many things and no matter how great an actor he is there is no way that he is Italian! It was a good scene and I wouldn't want to lose it, but for god's sake they should had him win the British-American award or just the Chicago Person of the Year. I know that Mr. A is based on the real life Arpino who is very Italian, but since Malcolm wasn't playing Mr. Arpino there was no need to play the scene like that, it is almost laughable. In the end I think Mr. A is a flawed man, maybe a genius past his prime as a dancer who is a bit bitter because of it. I think Malcolm almost played him like Stanley Kubrick who was a genius at movie making, but had difficulty treating his many of his actors like human beings. We see that the cast knows he is a domineering presence when they make fun of him during the Christmas Roast. I would've liked Mr. A to have been in the audience to see what his reaction was. The only way they could've changed this was to have a scene with Mr. A outside the theater setting with his hair down. In the end Malcolm presents us with a complex and fascinating character - one we might like to be, but not like to be with.
    The way the ballet's are shot are perfect. The opening sequence is stunning and full of beauty and color. The way the scenes flow from one into another is seamless. So many conversations are going on and you want to hear them all, but like being at a crowded party, you can only hear so much at once. I want to go back and see what I missed.
    It is a rare treat these days to see Malcolm in a big role in a semi-big budget film in the theatres. I can't recommend the film enough. I am certainly not an expert or true fan of the ballet and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The audience was very mixed in age when I saw it from teens to senior citizens and after after a couple months of release it was a near packed house on a Saturday night. It is great to see so many people choosing quality over the quantity of 3000+ theater releases of crap of the day like Starsky and Hutch. It is obviously a film that can appeal to anyone whether you are in a ballet company or you've never seen a ballet in your life. Everyone did well especially considering all the dancers are not actors. 

Rating 9.75/10

Together Before

1992 - Malcolm and Altman both worked on The Player.


Pictures from each of Malcolm's four scenes.

It features tons of Malcolm scenes and dialog including these below:
"It's not the steps babies, it's what's inside that really counts. That's when you really begin to soar."
"I've always believed in you."
"Hit the wall, I want you to move out!"
"Thinking the movement is not becoming the movement."
"All that went into this ballet."

Narrator: From director Robert Altman and the acclaimed Joffrey Ballet - intimate look at the life of a company...and the life of a dancer. Neve Campbell, James Franco and Malcolm McDowell. The discipline, the sacrifice, the beauty, the passion of dance. The Company - a Robert Altman film.

The music sounds like something from Twin Peaks.

Article © Variety/Press Release © TIFF
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