By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
You pretty much need to be a world-renowned and slightly eccentric filmmaker to look at a documentary subject and say “I’m going to shoot that in 3-D!” and then pull it off. Also, apparently, you need to be German.
Al Gore argued long and hard, but the allure of 3-D Powerpoints couldn’t convince the studio to chip in more
Everybody’s favorite Bond villain voice, Werner Herzog, was first in the fold with early 2011’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams, but for my money his compatriot Wim Wenders made the more visually impressive 3-D documentary with is much-acclaimed Pina. The film is an elegy to his personal friend, legendary dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch, who passed away right before filming. It interweaves footage of her career, interviews of those who knew her best, and breathtaking performances of her routines to create a lasting testament to her career and legacy.
To Director Wim Wenders. He knew what he wanted to do with this film, and he went ahead and did it. Some of his artistic choices may not have come off perfectly, but there’s no denying that this is as ambitious a work as any that came out this year, and largely successful at what it aims to do.
Of course, vision that flies in the face of reason has an ugly side as well…
I unfortunately wasn’t able to watch this in 3-D, and I can only imagine how impressive it would have been. Pina Bausch was famed for incorporating objects and obstacles into her routines, from something as simple as a couple of chairs to manufacturing entire environments of soil, rock, and water onstage. Wenders both films these and other arrangements true to their spirit in various locations outdoors. These exhilarating, at times challenging, but always deeply felt performances are well worth the price of admission.
Just ask Pedro Almodovar, who cribbed her ‘Café Muller’ for Talk to Her
As technically impressive and beautiful as this film is, it does a poor job of introducing us to Pina Bausch the person. All of the interviewees seem to regard Pina as a kind of distant, mythical figure as they recount their stories, even if they were obviously deeply affected by her. Perhaps that’s the truth of the matter, or perhaps Wenders’ abstract approach impedes his goal. It’s hard to tell.
Your enjoyment of this film is going to hinge on just how seriously you take modern dance. Call this a provisional beer- if you’re a fan of the medium this movie is bound to impress, and if you can’t stand all that artsy-fartsiness, then you’ll most likely need another (also, how did you get roped into watching this in the first place?) I fell somewhere in between, and honestly there are parts (mostly the consciously absurd ones) that lost me. Another beer never hurts.
This eye-catching tribute to the life and work of the late choreographer Pina Bausch is gorgeously filmed, and particularly if you’re a modern dance fan, a recommended watch.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever you hear a different language
Take a Drink: for each different dance, of course
Take a Drink: whenever Wim Wenders breaks in with some Werner Herzog-style narration
Drink a Shot: if/when you raise an eyebrow at a routine. If you never do, you’re a better guy/gal than I