Mr. Gaga

The story of Ohad Naharin, renowned choreographer and artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company, an artistic genius who redefined the language of modern dance.

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  • ★★★★ review by Ben Scanga on Letterboxd

    What makes a good documentary? Is it the character? The pacing? The overall meaning and message it's trying to convey to its audience? If so, then Mr. Gaga is what all documentaries should aim to be.

    Mr. Gaga is a documentary that does one thing very, very well. It keeps you interested in the story it's telling even if you're not interested in the subject matter beforehand. Whether it be from the enchanting scenes of Ohad Naharin's works in dance or the beautiful music that is complementing the whole thing, there's always something to keep you interested through its entire runtime. The excellent pacing also complements the consistent intrigue with this character and the overall narrative, and this doc does feature a very interesting character. The film isn't afraid to show the Ohad's true self, someone who constantly breaks down his dancers to the point where they are storming out in tears but always come back the next day. You know why? because they know that it's worth coming back to. It would've been nice to see some of that being portrayed on screen instead of mentioning it once in dialogue to add that extra "oomph" of tension or to make the stakes more visible.

    Showing footage from the childhood of the character to give you a feel of how he grew is a formulaic way of showing character development but it still works, especially when you realize how they have twisted it during the third act. I almost appreciate the film more, like it was aware of the whole "dramatic backstory" formula that is usually revealed during the beginning of most documentaries and was poking fun at how gullible some people can be to that fact. The narrative choice to show the audience Ohad's works as a choreographer over the time span this documentary is covering was a very exceptional decision in terms of storytelling, even offering some insight into some of his pieces as they are being shown.

    Mr. Gaga is far from the best documentary, but it certainly is a fantastic and refreshing start to 2016. Its tone is perfect for what it is trying to say and it also has probably the best ending you'll witness so far this year. The way it throws you into the shoes of this character to really make you feel what he's feeling and keep you constantly involved and interested is just one of the reasons I feel that this is a must-watch for almost anyone. It's an interesting, beautifully-crafted, smart, interesting and just a lovely documentary to watch play out.

  • ★★★½ review by Jason Bailey on Letterboxd

    No, it’s not a profile of Lady Gaga’s dad. Documentarian Heymann crafts this fascinating profile of modern dance choreographer/legend Ohad Naharin, beginning with his childhood in Israel and early days as a dancer, alternating his physical and artistic journey. In the process, via fascinating archival footage and overwhelming montages, Heymann captures the thrilling uniqueness of Naharin’s work – as well as a vibrant portrait of his artistic process, in which dance functions as communication, survival, and healing. Sensitive, intelligent, and awe-inspiring.

  • ★★★½ review by Peter Valerio on Letterboxd

    A portrait of the professional life of Ohad Naharin, a modern dance choreographer. I'm not the biggest fan of dance, but this is amazing. Ugly and beautiful. Joyous chaos.

  • ★★★★ review by Ken Rudolph on Letterboxd

    The eponymous Mr. Gaga is Israeli dancer/choreographer Ohad Naharin (no, not Lady Gaga's main squeeze.) Ohad was born in a kibbutz, trained in New York, appointed in 1990 to the post of artistic director of the Tel Aviv based Batshiva Dance Company. This fascinating and illuminating documentary tells his story from reminiscences and lengthy illustrations of his impressionistic, ultra-modern, avant garde dance creations. I was impressed by Naharin's creativity...his dances combine costumes, creative staging, singing and bodily contortions (a style termed "gaga" in the film) that are quite unique. The result is a film that entertains and even occasionally amazes.

  • ★★★½ review by Mark Dujsik on Letterboxd

    At one point in Mr. Gaga, Ohad Naharin, the documentary's subject, admits that he has lied to the filmmakers and, by extension, us about a key part of his biography. He apparently has been lying about it for as long as people have been asking him the question: Why did he start dancing?

    See my full review at Mark Reviews Movies.

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