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"Tiny Pretty Things" Netflix


Hushenfazen

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4 hours ago, Rock said:

It's so tiresome isn't it? The same story over and over - they starve themselves, they're treated horribly, they're all miserable - all of which isn't true at all. 

Tiresome is the right word. Unfortunately most of the people who watch will be people who've never seen a ballet company.

 

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What's unfortunate is that some audience members might have read or watched all that stuff so when they get in there and they're actually watching ballet dancers ballet dancing they think those smiles are fake. Forced. Which is untrue. Those people WANT to be out there. It feeds them. It's what they live for. And they didn't work 12 hours that day and they're not starving themselves and they're not miserable. They're happy. They're thrilled to be performing. 

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19 hours ago, Rock said:

It's so tiresome isn't it? The same story over and over - they starve themselves, they're treated horribly, they're all miserable - all of which isn't true at all. 

Dancer derangement is a subcategory of the tortured artist trope, isn't it? It's hard to think of a film, play, or TV series that doesn't depict artists of any variety as damaged, disordered, tortured, or miserable in some way or other. (We can probably add "Making the people who love them miserable" to the list, too.) A life of art-making is rarely depicted as joyful. Nor are artists allowed to have the kind of day-to-day stresses and concerns that we mere normies have: their miseries must be as extraordinary as their talents. The more lurid the crazy, the bigger the award-season buzz. (Remember 1998's Hilary and Jackie? or 2000's Pollock? Or much Ken Russell's oeuvre.)

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12 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

A life of art-making is rarely depicted as joyful.

Film writers seem to want to project a lot of cliched ideas onto non-verbal art practices – the sadism they depict perhaps is their own at a remove. Before Black Swan there were also Ballerina (Yvette Chauviré, Mia Slavenska) and the Red Shoes. The real life anxieties of dancers – dancing too little, dancing too much, who is getting what parts – are probably too mundane to dramatize in a film. (Megan Fairchild's interview with Jock Soto touched on all sort of interesting details – like the boys bowing and the girls curtseying in the hallways whenever Balanchine would pass by – but were the kind of things that could only be appreciated by a special ballet audience.) 

Regarding the visual arts, I think Pollock the movie pretty faithfully followed the trajectory of Jackson Pollock's messy life with Lee Krasner, Clement Greenberg and Ruth Klingman. Joan Mitchell, Grace Hartigan and Wilhelm deKooning were also not easy characters to deal with, Mitchell especially. (The abstract-expressionists started out in the late forties discussing ideas in West Village coffee shops but later graduated to the Cedar Tavern.) I can't think of any of them that you could say were joyful. Many I've met or read about have been, most of the time, pretty dead serious about their work – Donald Judd, Barbara Kruger, Richard Serra, Jean-Michel Basquiat. Or concerned with their relationships to their dealers or their patrons (anxiety about paintings that were being resold too early or for too little). It's a completely demanding life – and the art you make never seems finished and always raises more questions than it answers.

Edited by Quiggin
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14 hours ago, Quiggin said:

Regarding the visual arts, I think Pollock the movie pretty faithfully followed the trajectory of Jackson Pollock's messy life with Lee Krasner, Clement Greenberg and Ruth Klingman. Joan Mitchell, Grace Hartigan and Wilhelm deKooning were also not easy characters to deal with, Mitchell especially. (The abstract-expressionists started out in the late forties discussing ideas in West Village coffee shops but later graduated to the Cedar Tavern.) I can't think of any of them that you could say were joyful. Many I've met or read about have been, most of the time, pretty dead serious about their work – Donald Judd, Barbara Kruger, Richard Serra, Jean-Michel Basquiat. Or concerned with their relationships to their dealers or their patrons (anxiety about paintings that were being resold too early or for too little). It's a completely demanding life – and the art you make never seems finished and always raises more questions than it answers.

Artists have messy lives, just like the rest of us! And, like the rest of us, they also grapple with concerns about the trajectory of their careers and their relationships with their colleagues, mentors, and employers/patrons. I think what annoys me about so many depictions of artists and art-making is the degree to which the messy lives, career anxieties, drivenness, and seriousness of purpose are pathologized. Pathology makes for sensational drama, though, so that's what we get. 

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On 12/7/2020 at 2:20 PM, Kathleen O'Connell said:

I think what annoys me about so many depictions of artists and art-making is the degree to which the messy lives, career anxieties, drivenness, and seriousness of purpose are pathologized. Pathology makes for sensational drama, though, so that's what we get. 

It's also a way to reinforce the perception of the artist as The Other - unstable, unreliable, disobedient, inscrutable.

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On 12/6/2020 at 11:41 PM, Quiggin said:

Film writers seem to want to project a lot of cliched ideas onto non-verbal art practices – the sadism they depict perhaps is their own at a remove. Before Black Swan there were also Ballerina (Yvette Chauviré, Mia Slavenska) and the Red Shoes. The real life anxieties of dancers – dancing too little, dancing too much, who is getting what parts – are probably too mundane to dramatize in a film. (Megan Fairchild's interview with Jock Soto touched on all sort of interesting details – like the boys bowing and the girls curtseying in the hallways whenever Balanchine would pass by – but were the kind of things that could only be appreciated by a special ballet audience.) 

Regarding the visual arts, I think Pollock the movie pretty faithfully followed the trajectory of Jackson Pollock's messy life with Lee Krasner, Clement Greenberg and Ruth Klingman. Joan Mitchell, Grace Hartigan and Wilhelm deKooning were also not easy characters to deal with, Mitchell especially. (The abstract-expressionists started out in the late forties discussing ideas in West Village coffee shops but later graduated to the Cedar Tavern.) I can't think of any of them that you could say were joyful. Many I've met or read about have been, most of the time, pretty dead serious about their work – Donald Judd, Barbara Kruger, Richard Serra, Jean-Michel Basquiat. Or concerned with their relationships to their dealers or their patrons (anxiety about paintings that were being resold too early or for too little). It's a completely demanding life – and the art you make never seems finished and always raises more questions than it answers.

I'd suggest that Black Swan isn't a ballet film - it's a horror story that happens to take place in a ballet company, but it could be set in almost any intensely hypercompetitive professional environment and its most obvious cinematic antecedents aren't ballet movies but Polanski's Apartment Trilogy and All That Jazz.

The Red Shoes is certainly melodramatic but it was based on a real-life melodrama, that of Diaghilev and Nijinsky, and Nijinsky's descent into madness is at least as horrifying as the suicide of Victoria Page. (The Nijinsky story was re-enacted again, this time for real, in the Sixties with Balanchine and Farrell, albeit with a much happier personal and artistic ending. (Balanchine after seeing Bejart's Nijinsky: Clown of God ("If I'd done the ballet, I'd have made Suzanne Nijinsky.")

I wasn't crazy about The Company (starring Neve Campbell, whose idea it was, and directed by Altman) but it actually does dramatize many of the quotidian concerns and aspects of company life with little exaggeration or bombast.  A TV series or miniseries could possibly take the idea and improve on it.

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On 12/6/2020 at 10:50 AM, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Dancer derangement is a subcategory of the tortured artist trope, isn't it? It's hard to think of a film, play, or TV series that doesn't depict artists of any variety as damaged, disordered, tortured, or miserable in some way or other. (We can probably add "Making the people who love them miserable" to the list, too.) A life of art-making is rarely depicted as joyful. Nor are artists allowed to have the kind of day-to-day stresses and concerns that we mere normies have: their miseries must be as extraordinary as their talents. The more lurid the crazy, the bigger the award-season buzz. (Remember 1998's Hilary and Jackie? or 2000's Pollock? Or much Ken Russell's oeuvre.)

Hilary and Jackie is an interesting case, because although it hits many of the tragic artist marks, it also contrasts the "healthy," smaller-scale musical lives of Hilary and Christopher Finzi, who lead an ordinary family life in the country while still performing and teaching, versus the international superstardom of Jacqueline and Barenboim, and the latter doesn't come off so well -- at least in this telling.

Thank you, Hushenfazen, for starting the topic. I hadn't heard of this series and I intend to check it out.

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55 minutes ago, dirac said:

I wasn't crazy about The Company (starring Neve Campbell, whose idea it was, and directed by Altman) but it actually does dramatize many of the quotidian concerns and aspects of company life with little exaggeration or bombast.  A TV series or miniseries could possibly take the idea and improve on it.

You mean like Breaking Pointe? Just kidding.

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12 hours ago, dirac said:

I'd suggest that Black Swan isn't a ballet film - it's a horror story that happens to take place in a ballet company, but it could be set in almost any intensely hypercompetitive professional environment and its most obvious cinematic antecedents aren't ballet movies but Polanski's Apartment Trilogy and All That Jazz.

Another melodramatic film set in the ballet world is Specter of the Rose,  written and directed by Ben Hecht in the 1940s.  The male lead is a Nijinsky-like star who has fallen into depression after the death of his first wife,  whom he is suspected of murdering.

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The acting isn't the best, but at least they hired trained dancers.   Baby steps.  I thought  body doubles  was what really irked ballet people. Also, would balletomanes be more receptive if the film wasn't about ballet but maybe about a protagonist who happened to be a ballet dancer?

 

If a ballet film or ANY film for that matter,  had documentary levels of accuracy, it'd be unwatchable as a drama. Who wants to see a film where EVERYONE is a dedicated, mentally brilliant, hardworking, goody-goody and there are NEVER any artistic differences, petty resentments, people with bad body images,  bad teachers, no budding sexuality or  teacher's pets, no overbearing stage parents, personality conflicts or racial bias?   

Classical dancers as a group may want to be seen that way, which group doesn't?  But NO collective is filled with only perfect people doing perfect things. 

 

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On 12/13/2020 at 1:03 AM, dirac said:

I'd suggest that Black Swan isn't a ballet film - it's a horror story that happens to take place in a ballet company, but it could be set in almost any intensely hypercompetitive professional environment and its most obvious cinematic antecedents aren't ballet movies but Polanski's Apartment Trilogy and All That Jazz.

 

During my first - and only - viewing of Black Swan, I assumed the plot had been adapted from the 1947 movie A Double Life starring Ronald Colman, about a Broadway star's descent into madness and murder.  No dancing involved, but the theatrical setting was highly evocative.

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Well.....I'm afraid this really is pretty terrible, so far. I'm going to stay with it a bit longer out of curiosity and to see if we get to see some real dancing, or something, but it's heavy going. The show is a collection of contemporary TV series tropes treated without much imagination and, as often with these shows, at least the ones I've seen, little wit or humor. The central character is a Misty Copeland type and the cast is carefully diversified, except in the case of the young male students, who are all dark haired with similar haircuts and hard to tell apart. Unfortunately, the cast is not diverse in its weak acting. 

Almost didn't recognize Lauren Holly, who deserves better. She's chewing scenery here, but what else can she do?

Also lots of unnecessary nudity, but on cable you don't let a bunch of young people with great bodies go to waste.

Brennan Clost as Shane, the heroine's Gay Guy Friend, is good. 

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On 12/17/2020 at 11:54 AM, Tapfan said:

If a ballet film or ANY film for that matter,  had documentary levels of accuracy, it'd be unwatchable as a drama. Who wants to see a film where EVERYONE is a dedicated, mentally brilliant, hardworking, goody-goody and there are NEVER any artistic differences, petty resentments, people with bad body images,  bad teachers, no budding sexuality or  teacher's pets, no overbearing stage parents, personality conflicts or racial bias?   

That's pretty much the rap against the SAB documentary on Disney+.   One reviewer said the Nutcracker kids were so poised and self-possessed that they sounded like little thirty year olds.  There hasn't been much commentary about the series,  but what I've seen indicates they were expecting more angst and drama,  as though Black Swan and Tiny Pretty Things were more realistic than what actually goes on in ballet.  If these kids are serious about getting into NYCB - and they are - it would be beyond foolish for them to reveal any doubts,  fears or weaknesses on camera.  But most of the younger kids are very realistic about getting too big to be in Nutcracker and possibly not being invited to continue out of the children's division into the advanced classes.  I just wish there had been more dancing,  and to be honest,  better dancing.  The current crop of students,  with exceptions,  didn't look that good to me on camera.

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1 hour ago, On Pointe said:

What is a "Misty Copeland type"?  If you mean that she's Black,  why not just say that?

Because that wasn't only what I meant, although it's certainly part of what I meant. Neveah is from Inglewood, and one of the first indicators that she's going to have a hard time is when someone, I think it's the Holly character, calls her "straight outta Compton!" or something to that effect. 

Misty Copeland is at present the most famous ballerina in America, and a groundbreaking one. I suppose it's possible they would have created the same character without the Copeland real-life example, but I'm inclined to doubt it.

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But the only reason someone would call a dancer "straight outta compton" is if the dancer is black.  It's a racist remark,  making assumptions about someone's background because she's black.  I'm not trying to beat up on you,  but tiptoeing around reality is not helpful.  The young lady who plays Neveah has said that every race-coded remark in the script has been said to her or about her in real life.  ("Neveah" is an odd choice for a black character.  That name,  which is "heaven" backwards,  is usually associated with working class whites.)

I don't know if Misty Copeland is the most famous ballerina in the US.  But her presence means that black dancers are not automatically excluded when a ballet themed story is being cast,  and that's a big plus.

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