Pina (Germany, 2010, Wim Wenders)
This is a very cool film. It's a remarkable creation considering the star of the show died before Wenders could get her to co-create it with him. Clearly, that original project had to be scrapped and the film became a tribute that draws on her creativity the best it can. This circumstance reminds me of the album Mingus, by Joni Mitchell.
The staging of the performances in the various locations is tremendously engaging. The cinematography is subtly brilliant, simultaneously providing basic documentary coverage in keeping with the techniques of a sports broadcast and active participation in the choreography to achieve a genuinely cinematic mis-en-scene. Even more than the effective editing, it's the camera movement along with the dancers' movement that truly allows the film to do justice to its subject matter.
I also found it to be emotionally effective not to present talking-head interview respondents. Departing from this standard, heartless presentation, Wenders allows individuals to read a composed statement as a voice-over while showing them just sitting there; not dancing, not moving, not performing. This non-performance shows the company as a kind of family sincerely contemplating the passing of their matriarch.
All of this would be for naught if their grande dame didn't have the goods - but Jesus did she have the goods! That Tanztheatre is too much! Modern modern dance. Can you dig it? And hello, German enough for ya? I know they said that she was always so upbeat and encouraging and full of humour, but that's some seriously who-angst-you? twist she's twisting. I can't imagine what it must be like to see it live. That Rite of Spring (1975) done in the dirt. Oh man, Cafe Muller (1978) with all those chairs. Devastatingly good. Monica Googled clips and we saw a two-hander set on an interior floor covered with leaves, through which the man repeatedly dragged the woman. Scenes From a Marriage as performed by a fantastically physically fit couple. Modern modern dance. Can you dig it?
I was personally touched to learn from Wiki after seeing the film that Bausch studied with Jose Limon and Paul Taylor in the States before picking up again with Jooss in Germany. My mom took some classes with Limon's company and also worked with one of Taylor's principle dancers, Danny Grossman, after he started his own company.
I love this film. Knowing absolutely zilch about Bausch or her ouevre going in, I became an immediate acolyte. This is dance of the first degree, intelligent, provocative and sexy. What's not to like?
The creative marriage of two real artists, Pina and Wim, turns out better than even a Dale Carnegie bred optimist could hope for. The dances are extraordinarily cool, a perfect wedding of sensuality and innovation, while Wenders clearly gets the themes in play, staging the dances in engaging sets or fascinating locales that dovetail perfectly with the material.
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