NY Export:  Opus Jazz DVD

Studio: Factory 25

Jan 07, 2011 Issue #34 - Year End 2010 - Sufjan Stevens Bookmark and Share


Dubbed “a ballet in sneakers,” Jerome Robbins’ abstract jazz riff on his own West Side Story opened big in 1958, but flew under the radar until 2005, when a couple of New York City Ballet soloists revived it onstage, then spent the next five years developing the film adaptation.

It’s hard talking about the resultant film without getting wild-eyed and tongue-tied—Opus Jazz is simply amazing. Robert Prince’s brassy score hits hard, the dancers are attractive and possess near-superhuman levels of physical control, and director/cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes nails every shot. Scenes were photographed on location in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and not since Gordon Willis shot Manhattan has New York looked this good. You could take a frame from almost anywhere in the film, blow it up, and hang it on your living room wall. If you love movies, you will love this movie.

The DVD features additional scenes not aired on PBS from the behind-the-scenes documentary, A Ballet in Sneakers: Jerome Robbins and Opus Jazz, directed by Matt Wolf and Anna Farrell; as well as Jerome Robbins’ Ballets: USA, a documentary commissioned by the State Department in 1958, and an essay by John Lithgow. That last one almost makes up for not releasing a Blu-ray version. (www.opusjazz.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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