Atlantic Film Festival, Day Five; ‘Pina’ and ‘The Future’

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Pina

Directed by Wim Wenders

2011, Germany / France / UK

The idea of watching contemporary dance pieces for over an hour and a half may not sound like the most riveting way to spend an evening. However, right from the get-go, Wim Wenders’s new film, Pina proves this assumption wrong. The film offers a dynamic and fascinating look at the work of legendary German choreographer Pina Bausch. In largest part, Pina is a performance film that sees a handful of Bausch’s pieces brought to life by her company, the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch. Though hard to explain and analyze, it is easy to get lost in the meanings and feelings of Bausch’s dance world. Staged in both public areas as well as on actual stages, the dance sequences range from haunting to dreamy to scary to funny. Wenders’ use of 3D compliments the dance in Pina perfectly. Finally, it seems the medium has found its best application. Though this is his first try at 3D technology, Wenders proves an innate understanding and artistry with 3D that goes far beyond things flying at your face.

Throughout the dance sequences, we gain brief glimpses of Bausch at work as well as short sequences of dancers talking about their experience of working with Bausch. These short sequences subvert the idea of a simple talking head. Instead we get the dancer’s voice talking over them looking at the camera. The 3D technology manages to make even those sequences look haunting and beautiful.

It’s hard to classify just what kind of movie Pina really is, whether performance film or documentary or something entirely different. Judging from other people’s impressions of Bausch, the film seems to capture her spirit in a completely unique way. For the audience this makes for a riveting, beautiful and completely novel cinematic experience. 


The Future

 

Written by Miranda July

Directed by Miranda July

2011, USA

It isn’t often that a film manages to be laugh-out-loud funny and deeply saddening at the same time. Somehow Miranda July’s second feature film The Future manages just that. The story begins when thirty-somethings, Sophie (Miranda July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) go to pick up a cat from the pound. They are told that they have to wait 30 days before they can actually take it home with them and that it may actually live much longer than expected, up to five years even. They come home and are suddenly faced with the scope of their entire lives and feel like something must and will change. What follows are Sophie and Jason’s separate and intertwining journeys to figuring out themselves, each other and the world around them.

Though the film can certainly be classified as “quirky,” for the most part, it works. July seems to have understood that quirky dialogue and situations aren’t enough but that a ring of truth is needed for the audience to really connect to the characters and what happens to them. Hamish Linklater is a perfect counterpart to July, often being the more accessible character to her sometimes a bit too wide-eyed indie chick. In the end, the film hits at some very important truths about becoming adults and relationships. Yes, a cat narrates the film but this doesn’t feel contrived or purposefully cutesy. It actually provides some insights that may otherwise not have been possible.

The film is a wonderfully fresh look at what it it’s like to be in your thirties and feel like you haven’t accomplished anything. You don’t have to be thirty to appreciate it, however, since it hits at some truths that are universal -both uplifting and sad ones.

Laura Holtebrinck

Visit the official website for the Atlantic Film Festival

 

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