Tuesday, October 18, 2011
New York Film Festival Review #1: PINA
Shot in a bright, vibrant 3D, Wim Wenders' tribute to the works of German choreographer Pina Bauch is suitably called PINA, and it's a real hoot. Wenders and Bauch closely collaborated on the piece during the years before her recent death, and it's not only the best 3D film out there, but also takes its place among the greatest dance films ever produced. It's only nominally a documentary, as there are no talking heads or narrative devices used in the film (the closest we come to these tropes are the regal portraits of the dancers in Bauch's Tauztheter Wuppertal, backed with their heartfelt remembrances of their mentor).
Instead, and wonderfully so, PINA is mostly built around spirited recreations of Bauch's athletic and often riotously funny dance works, which are staged in a variety of deep-focus locales that take maximum advantage of the 3D process while providing the dancers a surplus of, or an inventive limitation of, space to move around in. There are stagebound moments, like the rapid opening involving the whole company as they move through a dirt-covered space, or another as dancers create in-air sculpture with water. But Bauch's works are also set in public parks, on the side of highways, at the edge of cliffs, and most memorably, a solo dance set on a striking, red-accented escalator. With its unconventional costuming (I don't think I've ever seen dancers dressed in business suits before), stinging cinematography by Helene Louvart and Jorg Widmer, and a palpable depth of so many feelings, PINA will make even the most skeptical viewer a lover a modern dance, just as Wenders' BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB did for audiences unfamiliar with Cuban music.