Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Trash Dance

Emphasis on behind-the-scenes creation works well for doc about oddball art.

April 22, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1376148-Trash_Dance_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Austin, Texas is famously proud of the unexpected cultural collaborations it has nurtured in the decades since hippies and rednecks started hanging out together in what was then a laid-back college town. But even in Austin, building a modern dance piece around sanitation workers and their gear counts as strange. Andrew Garrison's Trash Dance makes sense of the project, following choreographer Allison Orr through what proves to be a charming and unpretentious collaboration with City of Austin volunteers; the doc should play well in niche bookings, and would surely become a cult hit with sanitation workers in other towns, should someone find a way to bring it to their attention.

Orr, a choreographer eager to incorporate people outside the arts—firefighters, gondoliers, et cetera—into her work, must begin each project with a task unknown to those who run traditional dance companies: Instead of opening auditions and whittling a mass of hopefuls down into a company, she has to go out and persuade strangers to want to participate in something that doesn't make sense to anyone but her.

She turns out to be well-equipped for that job—friendly and unassuming, energetic but not pushy. We watch as she attends meetings with sanitation workers, speaking in her friendly twang about what she has in mind and inviting her audience not just to execute but to help envision the final product.

Orr both wins workers' trust and assembles a vocabulary of appropriate movement by going out with crews—riding along in dump trucks, scooping up animal carcasses, doing overnight shifts cleaning up after the drunks leave Sixth Street. Along the way she discovers the hidden talents of her new colleagues: One plays harmonica, one raps, another is proficient in breakdance-like "jamskating."

Garrison goes further, interviewing men and women who do what most viewers would call one of the world's lousiest jobs and finding that many aren't even able to make ends meet on this job alone: Numerous interviewees hold second jobs. The picture isn't wholly bleak—speakers are eager to point out that educated, professional people haul trash—but there are enough allusions to personal difficulty that one wonders why more documentarians haven't sought material among the trash-pickers.

Documentation of the performance itself, which employed 16 huge vehicles and two dozen sanitation workers, is limited to the film's final third. While the show was clearly a hit, its parking-lot-sized dynamics don't always translate well to the screen. The high point is a quiet sequence in which a lone worker, Don Anderson, controls a massive crane with precision and grace. Watching that scene may be the only time a viewer ever finds himself wishing he could be a garbage man for a day.
The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Trash Dance

Emphasis on behind-the-scenes creation works well for doc about oddball art.

April 22, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1376148-Trash_Dance_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Austin, Texas is famously proud of the unexpected cultural collaborations it has nurtured in the decades since hippies and rednecks started hanging out together in what was then a laid-back college town. But even in Austin, building a modern dance piece around sanitation workers and their gear counts as strange. Andrew Garrison's Trash Dance makes sense of the project, following choreographer Allison Orr through what proves to be a charming and unpretentious collaboration with City of Austin volunteers; the doc should play well in niche bookings, and would surely become a cult hit with sanitation workers in other towns, should someone find a way to bring it to their attention.

Orr, a choreographer eager to incorporate people outside the arts—firefighters, gondoliers, et cetera—into her work, must begin each project with a task unknown to those who run traditional dance companies: Instead of opening auditions and whittling a mass of hopefuls down into a company, she has to go out and persuade strangers to want to participate in something that doesn't make sense to anyone but her.

She turns out to be well-equipped for that job—friendly and unassuming, energetic but not pushy. We watch as she attends meetings with sanitation workers, speaking in her friendly twang about what she has in mind and inviting her audience not just to execute but to help envision the final product.

Orr both wins workers' trust and assembles a vocabulary of appropriate movement by going out with crews—riding along in dump trucks, scooping up animal carcasses, doing overnight shifts cleaning up after the drunks leave Sixth Street. Along the way she discovers the hidden talents of her new colleagues: One plays harmonica, one raps, another is proficient in breakdance-like "jamskating."

Garrison goes further, interviewing men and women who do what most viewers would call one of the world's lousiest jobs and finding that many aren't even able to make ends meet on this job alone: Numerous interviewees hold second jobs. The picture isn't wholly bleak—speakers are eager to point out that educated, professional people haul trash—but there are enough allusions to personal difficulty that one wonders why more documentarians haven't sought material among the trash-pickers.

Documentation of the performance itself, which employed 16 huge vehicles and two dozen sanitation workers, is limited to the film's final third. While the show was clearly a hit, its parking-lot-sized dynamics don't always translate well to the screen. The high point is a quiet sequence in which a lone worker, Don Anderson, controls a massive crane with precision and grace. Watching that scene may be the only time a viewer ever finds himself wishing he could be a garbage man for a day.
The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

The Congress
Film Review: The Congress

Part live-action, part cornea-searing animation, this cinematic overload is ambitious but ultimately fatigues as it plays with the intriguing notion of a fading Hollywood star selling rights so her cyberspace avatar can rise to superstardom and stay forever young in virtual reality. Flashy animation and cynical stabs at celebrity culture and movie-studio finagling keep things lively for a while. More »

The Last of Robin Hood
Film Review: The Last of Robin Hood

Serviceable vehicle for a salacious story. More »

Last Weekend
Film Review: Last Weekend

A sort of modern Chekhovian study of family tensions over a country weekend, this indie drama is very pretty to look at and at times disarming, but needed more punch. More »

The Notebook
Film Review: The Notebook

An aloof adaptation of Agota Kristof's best-seller that's technically impressive but precludes audience identification. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Film Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Neither significantly better nor worse than its predecessor, the belated Sin City sequel is more of a repeat, rather than a continuation, of the original. More »

If I Stay
Film Review: If I Stay

Delivers as promised. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here