DIRECTED BY Wim Wenders
STARS Pina Bausch, Azusa Seyama
An Academy Award nominee this year for Best Documentary Feature, Pina involves perhaps the most unique style of 3-D I've yet seen in a film. It's so subtle, unobtrusive and low-key that at times I felt like I was watching the movie through a View-Master rather than the requisite plastic glasses.
That's not meant as a knock; indeed, one of the pleasures of the latest from director Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire) is that it realizes the artistry on display is less in this technological toy than in the action it's capturing on screen. Wenders' tribute to the German choreographer Pina Bausch (who passed away in 2009, just as the filmmaker was prepping this movie), this is a lovely, lyrical valentine that focuses on performances of Bausch's dances while also spending some down time with her disciples in the Tanztheater Wuppertal. Ever the innovator, Wenders doesn't exactly employ the reliable "talking heads" format; instead, he individually films members of her ensemble as they sit close-mouthed, with their words heard in voice-over. Their dialogue consists of remembrances of Pina Bausch the Artist; moviegoers expecting to learn any juicy details about Pina Bausch the Person will be sorely disappointed. But it's refreshing that Wenders focuses on the craft without cluttering up the film with messy details — although, admittedly, a bit more info on her life as it relates to her approach to art would have been appreciated.
Dance connoisseurs and novices alike will suitably be impressed with the showcase routines, which take place not only indoors but outside in the natural world. Bausch herself said that dance helps communicate situations that otherwise "leave you utterly speechless." As we watch her talented troupe glide around chairs, weave through traffic or frolic under a waterfall, we are indeed struck dumb by the poetry in motion.