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cinemadaily | “Every Little Step” Dances onto DVD

cinemadaily | "Every Little Step" Dances onto DVD

As critics work to predict this year’s Oscar nominees, “Every Little Step” has been listed on various lists for best documentary. James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo’s doc watches as actors audition to star in the 2006 revival of “A Chorus Line.” The film interweaves the contemporary story with that of the musical’s creator, director and choreographer Michael Bennett, in 1974. Bob Mondello on NPR describes the film:

“The filmmakers are doing more or less what Bennett said he’d do if he’d agreed to direct the movie version — the one Richard Attenborough ended up botching. Which is to say they treat the film itself as an audition, and for the most part, the approach works. The new material, gathered at the revival’s tryouts, is occasionally riveting — Jason Tam, say, nailing his character’s monologue so completely that he leaves the whole casting table in tears. And watching an actress who killed with her first audition, but who can’t get the character to resurface during callbacks, is pretty haunting.”

Stephen Cole, in Canada’s Globe and Mail, says, “‘Every Little Step’ is an uncommonly tender and observant documentary on the phenomenon that is ‘A Chorus Line,’ the Broadway production that changed entertainment, elevating the audition to a metaphor for life and making TV contests like ‘American Idol’ inevitable.”

David Wiegand, in the San Francisco Gate, calls the film “terrific,” and goes on to discuss the film’s appeal to a twenty-first century audience, “Given the proliferation of star-wannabe shows on TV, the film is perfect for modern audiences as it moves back and forth between the creative process three decades ago and the mix of hope and terror felt by some of the 3,000 who tried out for the recent revival.”

Furthering the analogy with reality television, The New York TimesA. O. Scott differentiates the doc from the TV genre, “But those programs are spectacles of amateurism chasing after celebrity, an impulse that could not be further from what Mr. Stern and Mr. Del Deo, taking their cues from Mr. Bennett, set out to honor. The 17 members of that chorus line — and the thousands like them, including those who dream of playing them — are professionals, and one of the names they give to the glory they seek is work. The other is love.”

A minority of critics think the film may be doing too much. The New York Post‘s Kyle Smith complains, “The movie attempts to be a biography of Michael Bennett, the director and choreographer of the original “A Chorus Line.” And a backstage story of how that production was put together by Bennett from taped all-night group interviews with dancers in 1974. And a look at the 2006 revival. And a portrait of some of those who auditioned for the new show. The film does all of these things so poorly that it assumes you know everything going in, which makes it more a souvenir scrapbook than a narrative. ” The Times Picayune‘s Mike Scott concurs, “the movie isn’t populated with enough memorable real-life characters — with the exception of choreographer and former cast member Baayork Lee — and doesn’t boast enough universal meaning to make it truly sing. ”

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