Posts Tagged ‘Pina’

1) DRIVE (DIR. NICHOLAS WINDING REFN) – USA

Drive is a Hollywood film directed by a distinctly European director. Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn rethinks the Hollywood crime thriller with minimal dialogue, strong colour, offbeat casting and an idiosyncratic soundtrack. While embracing it’s influences Drive also subverts numerous cliches and Refn shows a remarkable talent for crafting scenes that are emotionally gripping and utterly tense.

2) ANIMAL KINGDOM (DIR. DAVID MICHOD) – AUSTRALIA

David Michod’s debut feature feels like the work of an accomplished Australian equivalent to Michael Mann. Animal Kingdom tells the story of a naive young man in the midst of a dangerous crime family and the havoc he causes them. With an impressive cast including Ben Mendelsohn and Jackie Weaver, Michod rarely puts a foot wrong, from the staging of each scene to his choice of music. Not only an extremely impressive debut, but a great Australian film.

3) INTO THE ABYSS (DIR. WERNER HERZOG) – GERMANY & CANADA

Werner Herzog has been working hard lately, with the release of Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Into The Abyss premiering at various festivals in 2011. Out of the two unique documentaries Into The Abyss hits the hardest, with some of the best interviews Herzog has ever conducted. Probing the subject of death row Herzog puts together a restrained, yet unmistakably Herzogian investigation, which places moral  questions centre stage.

4) THE SKIN I LIVE IN (DIR. PEDRO ALMODOVAR) – SPAIN

Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In is an intriguing, intelligently structured and stylish film that successfully pulls the rug from under the audience’s feet in a manner that is as entertaining as it is unsettling. Almodovar blends classic horror with the themes he is famous for and gains great performances from his cast. Antonio Banderas turns in a dark, well judged portrayl and Elena Anaya brilliantly gains the audiences empathy within an utterly bizarre scenario.

5) MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (DIR. WOODY ALLEN) – USA

Midnight In Paris sees Woody Allen at the top of his game. Owen Wilson plays a screenwriter (Gil), who aspires to become a novelist. He falls in love with Paris while on holiday with his fiancé (and her parents) and begins wandering the streets at night revelling in the city’s mythology. Upon meeting a number of unlikely personalities, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway and Salvador Dali among others, Gil becomes far removed from his normal life to wonderfully Allenesque effect.

6) TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (DIR. TOMAS ALFREDSON) – UK

Where Drive was an American production directed by a Dane, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a British one directed by a Swede. Tomas Alfredson brings a distinctly Scandinavian approach to this classic cold war story. Like his vampire film Let The Right One In, Tinker Tailor makes use of wide open spaces juxtaposed with dingy interiors to create an appropriate paranoia. Alfredson’s remarkable ensemble cast create numerous memorable performances, particularly Gary Oldman as George Smiley.

7) HUGO (DIR. MARTIN SCORSESE) – USA

An ode to cinema by Martin Scorsese, Hugo tells the tale of French film director George Meilies through the eyes of a young boy called Hugo Cabret. Directed with a youthful flare by Scorsese, we follow Hugo’s journey to fix an automaton left behind by his late father, which leads him to a discovery of Meilies forgotten cinema career. The story of a young man discovering cinema and it’s possibilities for the first time is clearly one close to Scorsese’s heart; that’s why Hugo is such a good film.

8) DREAMS OF A LIFE (DIR. CAROL MORLEY) – UK

Dreams of a Life and it’s central character Joyce Vincent captured the hearts and minds of cinema goers this Christmas. Joyce Vincent died in 2003 in her North London bedsit and went undiscovered for three years. She had been a popular, outgoing and successful young woman who became increasingly alienated in the years preceding her death. Director Carol Morley investigates the circumstances that lead to Joyce’s death and meets with friends, boyfriends, colleagues and others to paint a portrait (using excellently performed reconstructions and talking head interviews) of a woman who no one would expect society to leave behind.

9) SNOWTOWN (DIR. JUSTIN KURZEL) – AUSTRALIA

John Bunting, Australia’s most notorious serial killer is the subject of Snowtown. Directed by Justin Kurzel, with cinematography by Animal Kingdom DOP Adam Arkapaw, this film is a gruelling telling of a series of crimes orchestrated by Bunting between 1992 and 1999. The film’s graphic style is tough going even for hardened film viewers, but Daniel Henshall’s intelligent and rounded performance as Bunting demands the audience’s attention. Along with Animal Kingdom, Snowtown shows contemporary Australian cinema in a very good light.

10) PINA (DIR. WIM WENDERS) – GERMANY

Wim Wender’s tribute to the late Pina Bausch contains perhaps the best use of 3D seen in 2011. The film, made after Pina’s death, sees Wenders stage the choreographers work in a manner that complements her work effectively. The juxtaposition of Pina’s choreography and Wender’s choice of locations, camera work and music creates a kind of posthumous collaboration, which functions as both a moving tribute to and preservation of Pina’s remarkable style of choreography.

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Honorary mention:

The Story of Film: An Odyssey (Dir. Mark Cousins) – UK

A remarkable television series for Channel 4 telling the history of film in Mark Cousins’ unique style.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-story-of-film-an-odyssey

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Wim Wenders originally proposed the idea of making a film with dance choreographer Pina Bausch to her a quarter of a century ago. He told her it was an idea that they had to make; his only problem was he didn’t know how to film it, though he knew it required a special approach. It took Wenders until 2007 when upon seeing U2 3D at Cannes he recognised the technique he had been looking for all along.  He called Pina and told her that he had realised how to make the film and they set the ball rolling for the production, an art house dance film in 3D.

Tragically, just as Wenders, Pina and their crew were beginning production Pina was diagnosed with cancer and within a short time her condition worsened and she passed away. Leaving cast and crew devastated they halted production. Then came the realisation that they must reinterpret the project, this time as a tribute to Pina and her work. The result is a very personal goodbye to an extraordinary choreographer and as we learn an extraordinary person as well.

The film is structured around spectacular dance performances, juxtaposed with interview material with Pina’s dancers. Wenders had each dancer record a piece of speech in which they describe how Pina influenced them. Rather than using a conventional interview technique, Wenders plays back the audio to the dancers and then films them, as they listen to their own reflections on the late choreographer. This technique gives the interviews a poetic quality that juxtaposes appropriately with Pina’s unique and emotional choreography.

From the interviews we get a sense of the challenge and the liberation that Pina brought to her dance troupe. It is clearly evident that this is a quality unique to Pina. The dance performances confirm this. At times Pina’s unique form of choreography provoke the audience to question whether what they are seeing is strictly dance; however no matter what it is, it is evidentially powerful. Wenders’ approach to filming Pina’s choreography emphasises the poetry of the dance, as well as the sometimes gruelling, sometimes funny expressions created by the movements. The two artists come together perfectly.

The structure of Pina may at times prove difficult for some viewers; it feels closer to a letter than a story. For this reason it is important to view this film as a message from close friends, as they say goodbye to someone who touched them deeply. Join them in this and Pina will no doubt be a powerful experience.

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Last night a sold out audience at the National Film Theatre in London had the privilege of listening to Bernardo Bertolucci, director of The Conformist, Last Tango In Paris, Novecento, The Last Emperor and The Dreamers talk about his life and work.

Now 70 Bertolucci talked energetically about his career and said that he intends to return to directing soon, after almost 10 years of back surgery which has resulted in him having to use a wheelchair.

He expressed great enthusiasm for James Cameron’s Avatar as well as Wim Wender’s 3D dance film Pina and said in his return to directing he will “use a new technology”, that technology being 3D. Like his art house peers Bertolucci intends not to use 3D for sheer spectacle, but instead to tell a story of adolescent love in an adaptation of the Italian novel Me and You by Niccolo Ammaniti.

He also pondered what it would be like to witness a Jean-Luc Godard film in 3D and reflected on what it was like to make his first films in his early twenties. Though 50 years on, it was easily apparent that Bertolucci is as young in spirit as he was when he directed his first features back in the early 1960’s.

Photo by Chiara Capponi

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It is a strange coincidence that Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders, internationally famous auteurs and central figures of the 1960’s film movement the New German Cinema (which Herzog does not consider himself part of), have both made films in 3D for release this year.

It is also interesting to note the distinctly different approach that each director has taken to 3D. Herzog has shot Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a documentary deep under ground in the Chauvet Cave in France (the site of the oldest known cave paintings), while Wenders has made Pina, a dance film dedicated to the late dance choreographer Pina Bausch.

It is a testament to the maverick spirit of this generation of German directors that both Herzog and Wenders have embarked on these projects. Perhaps their interpretations of 3D will bring something truly special to this often debated technology.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (dir. Werner Herzog) trailer:

Pina (dir. Wim Wenders) trailer:

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