Weekend Updates 

Singing barbers, Delta blues and ballet from Robert Altman

Singing barbers, Delta blues and ballet from Robert Altman

Kill da wabbit! Most of us acquired our knowledge of opera from the same place we learned about world history, gender politics and the basic principles of physics: Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Thanks to the Nashville Opera, though, kids can find out first-hand the answer to the age-old question: “What’s opera, Doc?” The company scales down its acclaimed 2002 production of Puccini’s comic opera The Barber of Seville to fit the Belcourt, as part of the Hillsboro Village theater’s ongoing “Kids Court” programming for kids. And it’s free, a gift to music lovers of all ages-or simply to cartoon nuts who want to know the meaning of “Figaro! Figaro!” It starts 10 a.m. Saturday, open to all ages; for more information, call 846-3150.

♦ Speaking of cartoons, the Fat Possum label has been accused over the years of playing up the most sensational stereotypes of blues music. Even so, the label’s 200-proof brand of Delta fruit-jar likker has injected some raw, rowdy spirit into the supper-club slickness of too much modern blues. Some of Fat Possum’s hardest hitters arrive Saturday night at 3rd & Lindsley for the Juke Joint Caravan, led by the indefatigable stomper T-Model Ford, blues scion Cedric Burnside, slide monster Kenny Brown, and wah-wah wonder Paul “Wine” Jones. For more information, check out the Web site www.fatpossum.com.

The Company, the new movie by Robert Altman, hasn’t found the audience it deserves, and it snuck into Regal’s Green Hills megaplex this weekend after getting bumped for almost two months. Don’t be warned off by the bum treatment. This low-key gem is one of Altman’s strongest films of the past decade, and a particular treat for fans of modern dance. The virtually plotless film concerns the workings of a professional dance troupe (played by members of the Joffrey Ballet), recording performances, agonizing practices and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of a high-strung impresario (Malcolm McDowell) who juggles the demands of art and commerce.

Compared to the lavish diva fantasies of other dance movies, Altman’s film is admirably hardheaded. As usual in his inner-workings movies, the director divides the world into insiders and outsiders. Here, they’re bridged by principal dancer Neve Campbell, who practices to a pulp by day and enjoys a casual affair with chef James Franco after hours. But Altman scrupulously avoids the clichés of other dance movies. There are no melodramatic choices between career and romance, no shots at opening-night stardom. Instead, the director treats the making of art as a job that demands a hardcore work ethic, and he retains a hard-boiled admiration for those who work through injuries or hardship without fuss. If Howard Hawks had made a ballet movie, this might be it.

Even shot on digital, the movie looks gorgeous, reserving its warmest palette for the stunning performance sequences-of which a rainswept outdoor duet scored to “My Funny Valentine” is the highlight. Taking in the whole scene with kaleidoscopic ease, from the grips in the wings to the transfixed audience out front in the storm, Altman celebrates the offstage and onstage collaboration that results in moments of artistic transformation-moments in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The Company will probably last no longer than a week; anybody who called to ask when it would ever play here shouldn’t wait.

The Company, the new movie by Robert Altman, hasn’t found the audience it deserves, and it snuck into Regal’s Green Hills megaplex this weekend after getting bumped for almost two months. Don’t be warned off by the bum treatment. This low-key gem is one of Altman’s strongest films of the past decade, and a particular treat for fans of modern dance. The virtually plotless film concerns the workings of a professional dance troupe (played by members of the Joffrey Ballet), recording performances, agonizing practices and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of a high-strung impresario (Malcolm McDowell) who juggles the demands of art and commerce.

Compared to the lavish diva fantasies of other dance movies, Altman’s film is admirably hardheaded. As usual in his inner-workings movies, the director divides the world into insiders and outsiders. Here, they’re bridged by principal dancer Neve Campbell, who practices to a pulp by day and enjoys a casual affair with chef James Franco after hours. But Altman scrupulously avoids the clichés of other dance movies. There are no melodramatic choices between career and romance, no shots at opening-night stardom. Instead, the director treats the making of art as a job that demands a hardcore work ethic, and he retains a hard-boiled admiration for those who work through injuries or hardship without fuss. If Howard Hawks had made a ballet movie, this might be it.

Even shot on digital, the movie looks gorgeous, reserving its warmest palette for the stunning performance sequences-of which a rainswept outdoor duet scored to “My Funny Valentine” is the highlight. Taking in the whole scene with kaleidoscopic ease, from the grips in the wings to the transfixed audience out front in the storm, Altman celebrates the offstage and onstage collaboration that results in moments of artistic transformation-moments in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The Company will probably last no longer than a week; anybody who called to ask when it would ever play here shouldn’t wait.

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