ContactSales: Pony Canyon, Tokyo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Premiere: Montreal World Film Festival (Documentaries of the World), 3 Oct 2010. Theatrical release: Japan, 16 April 2011.
Presented by Fuji TV (JP), Toho (JP), Altamira Pictures (JP), Pony Canyon (JP), Dentsu (JP). Produced by Altamira Pictures (JP). Executive producer: Suo Masayuki. Producer: Kameyama Chihiro, Masui Shoji, Horikawa Shintaro, Inaba Naoto, Sasaki Yoshino, Sekiguchi Daisuke, Tsuchiya Ken.
Script: Suo Masayuki. Photography: Terada Rokuro. Editing: Ogata Ryuta. Music: Suo Yoshikazu. Costume design: Luisa Spinatelli. Sound: Sugiyama Atsushi.
Cast: Luigo Bonino, Kusakari Tamiyo, Roland Petit, Jean-Charles Verchere, Lienz Chang, Nathanaël Marie, Eugene Chaplin, Jean-Philippe Halnaut, Masui Shoji, Suo Masayuki.
Dancing Chaplin ダンシングチャップリン
2010, colour/b&w, 1.85:1, 132 mins
Directed by Suo Masayuki (周防正行)
By Derek Elley
Tue, 07 December 2010, 11:51 AM (HKT)
Interesting but over-long combination of rehearsals and performance of a ballet about Chaplin. Festivals, dance events, niche TV.
Act I: The Process. In May 2009 Italian dancer Luigi Bonino and Japanese ballerina Kusakari Tamiyo meet in Nakano, Tokyo, for 10 days of rehearsal for a restaging of Roland Petit's 1991 ballet Charlot danse avec nous, aka Chaplin Dances. The restaging in a studio is to be filmed for posterity by Japanese director Suo Masayuki, who discusses the idea with Petit. Sixteen days before shooting, rehearsals move to a studio in Shinjuku, and other dancers join. Eight days before shooting, test filming takes place on Stage Five of Toho Studios. Act II: The Ballet. The ballet in full, with famous scenes recreated from films like The Gold Rush, Modern Times and Limelight.
The professional partnership of director SUO Masayuki 周防正行 and ballerina KUSAKARI Tamiyo 草刈民代 — who met on the set of Suo's hit Shall We Dance Ｓｈａｌｌ ｗｅ ダンス？ (1996) and later married — comes a neat full circle with Dancing Chaplin ダンシングチャップリン (2010), a documentary about Suo's restaging and filming of the 1991 Roland Petit ballet, with Kusakari starring alongside the ballet's original lead dancer Luigi BONINO. Aged 44 at the time of shooting, Kusakari, who was so good as the beautiful but arrogant professional ballroom dancer in Dance, is still in great shape — she recently posed nude for a ballet poster — and is given no latitude in rehearsals by Bonino, himself almost 60, even though she's the director's wife. The buff Bonino's exacting perfectionism and almost unflappable good humour, plus Kusakari's slightly regal manner, provides some nice moments of underlying tension beneath all the mutual respect.
Suo himself has made only one other feature in the 14 years since Dance but proves a quietly mercurial presence in discussions with Petit, now in his mid-80s but still sharp as a blade and highly opinionated. When Suo politely suggests to Petit that the policemen's dance be filmed in a real park rather than the studio, Petit throws a small tizzy and threatens to pull out of the project, but Suo gets his way in the end. More personal moments like this would have been welcome in the film's first hour, which is an otherwise straightforward rehearsals documentary larded with plenty of Chaplin memorablilia. The remaining 70 minutes is the filmed performance itself, which is interesting (especially for Kusakari's expert performance, only hinted at in rehearsals) but not as fresh as it would have been without all the Chaplin and Bonino stuff in the previous hour.