Adding Another Dimension

It's tempting when watching Pina, Wim Wenders 3-D documentary and homage to Pina Bausch, to wonder what Wenders would have done with the format on some of his earlier excursions into non-fiction film. (The crags of Nick Ray's battered, weary face would probably translated rather well into 3-D for Lightning Over Water.) But you get what you get, and a dance film, which is what Pina is intermittently, should use space at least as satisfyingly as one on cave paintings. I say that as one who will almost certainly have Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams on his ten-best list when the Iras roll around (in late March, by the way).

And, in fact, the dance sequences in Pina are frequently among the most exhilarating moments in the film, as much for the flailing, atomic energy that drove Bausch's choreography and her core of longtime collaborators, as for anything Wenders does with the format. What he brings to the party is a series of candid, charming recollections by those dancers, all of whom speak of Bausch with real love, stuck in front of a blank, dark gray background that makes them pop out into "space" like animated figures. Taken in tandem with footage of Bausch working with her compnay, and the oddly fragmented contemporary dance footage -- Wenders seems as unwilling to give us a whole performance as Godard was in One P.M. -- the result is an inventive, quirky film that reflects its subject as much as its director. It's about two weeks since I saw Pina and to be absolutely honest, I still haven't made up my mind about it, but the fact that I've continued thinking on its merits suggests that it must be pretty good.

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One of the more pleasant resurrection acts in contemporary film criticism is the revival of Movie, the British film journal that was, for all intents and purposes, an English-language counterpart of Cahiers du Cinema, an outpost of committed auteurism in the sea of vaguely liberal-humanist dithering that was Anglophone film criticism in the '50s and early '60s. Ian Cameron, the founder, died a couple of years ago, and Robin Wood, who was one of its clearest thinkers and best writers, did likewise. But the University of Warwick has helped bring the magazine back to life as an open-source on-line publication. The latest issue of the new series is up on their website, devoted mostly to the American films of Fritz Lang, an eminently worthy topic for discussion. You can find it here. And well you should.


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