'Pina' Sets New Standard for 3-D Dance Filming

Friday, January 6, 2012

It's that bated-breath time before Oscar nominations, when movie-lovers are in retrospect. Jennifer Merin offers her own top-10 list, but also opens your eyes to such fabulous new fare as Wenders' biodoc on dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch.

(WOMENSENEWS)--As the Jan. 13 announcement of the Oscars nominees looms, moviegoers are now in that annual thrall of awards campaigns.

For the record, my top-10 list, in alphabetical order: "The Adventures of Tintin," "The Artist," "The Descendants," "The Guard," "Le Havre," "Martha Marcy May Marlene," "Meek's Cutoff," "Midnight in Paris," "Oranges and Sunshine" and "Win Win."

But don't spend all your time herding to theaters for last-minute looks at films on critics' top-10 lists.

If you missed the brief December run of "Pina," Wim Wenders' wonderful biodoc about the famous and beloved German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch, be sure to see it when it starts rolling out across the country this month.

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With dance sequences shot in 3-D, Wenders sets new standards for the use of this kind of camera work in documentary and dance films. "Pina" is best seen in 3-D, but also a treat if your nearest theater presents it only in 2-D. The film is as extraordinary as was Bausch, its subject, who died suddenly--five days after her cancer diagnosis--in 2009, while she and Wenders were in the pre-production phase for a documentary about her work.

With encouragement from members of her company, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Wenders proceeded to turn the film into a beautiful and poignant tribute that interweaves dance performances--some on stage, others in outdoor environments--with commentaries by Bausch's colleagues and rare archival footage of Bausch, herself.

Recommended Flicks

I have three other recommendations, which open Jan. 20.

"Carol Channing: Larger Than Life" is Dori Berinstein's fine documentary tribute to the actress best known for originating the roles of Lorelei Lee in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and Dolly in "Hello Dolly" on Broadway. The film is filled with vivacious storytelling by Channing, now in her 90s, about her career highlights and the fascinating people who visited her dressing room in bygone years. Channing's a treasure and Berinstein mines her memories well.

Steven Soderbergh's "Haywire" stars mixed martial arts champion Gina Carano as a black ops super soldier who's out for revenge after she was betrayed during a mission. Kick ass fantasy, Soderbergh style, with a new female action star. If you crave that sort of adventure, take this trip.

Vanessa Redgrave's performance as Volumnia in Ralph Fiennes' contemporary cinematic production of Shakespeare's "Coriolanus" is reason enough to see the film. But you also get Jessica Chastain as Virgilia. Both actresses are attracting Oscar buzz.

Here are a few more for your watch list:

In "The Devil Inside," an Italian psychological thriller, a woman subjects herself to exorcisms as a way of discovering what happened to her mother, who allegedly went mad after she killed three people during her own exorcism. A well-made, scary escapade for horror-genre fans. It opens today.

"Miss Bala," Mexico's submission for Oscar consideration, opens Jan. 12. It's Gerardo Naranjo's gritty crime drama about a young beauty queen contestant trapped within the machinations of the Mexican mob. It's gripping entertainment with an edgy perspective on the beauty contest scene.

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