Ballet 422

2014

Action / Documentary / Music / Sport

28
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 86%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 60%
IMDb Rating 6.2 10 1004

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1hr 15 min
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1hr 15 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by kz917-1 7 / 10

Put on your point shoes

A behind the scenes look at the concept, creation and choreography of a new ballet for the New York City Ballet. One the Corps members is tasked with the choreography and assisting the costume and lighting teams in creating a piece over several months. I enjoy documentaries and have seen several about the topic of ballet, if that is your wheelhouse you will enjoy it as well.

Reviewed by Paul Allaer 8 / 10

Delightful New York City Ballet documentary

"Ballet 422" (2014 release; 75 min.) is a documentary about how New York City Ballet dancer Justin Peck, all of just 25 yrs. old, is commissioned to choreograph a new ballet piece, and he has only 2 months to do it, with the premiere scheduled for January 31, 2013 (it is the only new ballet piece of the Winter '13 season, and it is the ballet's 422th overall). The documentary opens with a couple of facts regarding the City Ballet itself (such as: it has its own full tie orchestra), and then we dive straight in, and we are treated to a no-holds barred behind the scenes look at how Peck goes about it.

Couple of comments: first and foremost, if you don't care for ballet, please save yourself the trouble and check out another movie instead. On the other hand, if you love ballet, chances are that you will marvel as we get a glimpse of how the City ballet actually works on a day-to-day basis. We get to know Justin Peck a little bit, as well as several of the featured dancers including Tiler Peck (no relation) and Sterling Hyltin. If you are expecting high drama (say as in "Black Swan"), you will be sorely disappointed. Instead, we get to appreciate the hard work that goes into a ballet piece, all the way to the smallest details (it is amazing to see how much attention the costume design is given). Couple of surprises for me from the documentary: at no point does Justin Peck share explain his vision or concept for he new ballet piece, or if he did, it didn't make it in the documentary. Also, while we are told that the music being used for the ballet hails from 1935, we don't find out what composer or which music piece until the movie's end credits, wow. But in the end those are minor quibbles, and I enjoyed "Ballet 422" quite a bit.

I saw "Ballet 422" at a recent one-time only special showing at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. It was announced beforehand that following the showing there would be a Q&A with Victoria Morgan, Creative Director and CEO of the Cincinnati Ballet. It was great that the theater was absolutely PACKED for this, and indeed there was a lively discussion after the showing, with Victoria sharing her further insights on all this. If you love ballet, I strongly encourage you to check out "Ballet 422", be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray (where hopefully there will be some bonus materials). "Ballet 422" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Reviewed by john_meyer 3 / 10

Incompetent production

Great dancers deserve to be filmed by a competent director and crew. Unfortunately, this did not happen in "Ballet 422."

I have had the good fortune to have seen hundreds of live performances; have watched hundreds more on TV, laserdiscs, and DVD; and have myself filmed over a hundred ballet performances. I therefore know a little about both the art of ballet, and the techniques for recording it.

(P.S., I am also married to a ballet dancer.)

What I have found over the past forty years is that there are no right ways to film a ballet, or a documentary about ballet, but there sure are a lot of wrong ways.

This film seems to be an exercise in finding every possible wrong way to photograph dancers. Here are some examples:

* The camera person seems to have an aversion to feet. Virtually every shot cuts off the dancers' feet and lower torsos, and by tilting the camera to far upwards, gives us vast, pointless shots of the ceiling.

* I don't think I have ever seen an extended dancing scene in which the dancer is shown out of frame, with her arms occasionally appearing in the shot, only to disappear again. I am all for artistic shots, but if you're going to take a chance at doing something different, MAKE IT WORK!! This was just stupid and most definitely did not work.

* Whoever edited this has no sense of continuity. They also don't understand when to begin and end a shot. This movie could be used in an editing class to show exactly what NOT to do when editing.

* The lighting is awful. Yes, I know it is a documentary, and much of it is shot with available light. However, I also know that many of the shots required setup and WERE lit, or at least some attempt was made at lighting.

* The ending shots, where the movies should come together is a completely pointless series of juxtapositions that make absolutely no sense.

I don't think I have ever seen such an incompetent production, and this includes some high school films done by first-year students.

The only reason I give it three stars instead of one is that the solo dancing is absolutely wonderful (although the group dancing is pretty sloppy and lacks coordination).

So, if you do rent this, make sure you have a fast forward that works, and just watch the dancing and skip all the pointless and useless and incompetent footage that adds nothing but bloated, pointless time.

Jody Lee Lipes (the director and main camera person) should not ever again be allowed anywhere near a camera, not even the one in his cellphone.

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