Movie Review ~ Pina 3D

The Facts:

Synopsis: A tribute to choreographer Pina Bausch.

Stars: Pina Bausch, a plethora of Bausch dancers.

Director: Wim Wenders

Rated: PG

Running Length: 103 minutes

Random Crew Highlight:  Worldwide Sales – Fabien Westerhoff

TMMM Score: (6.5/10)

Review:  Knowing nothing about choreographer Pina Bausch before seeing this, I was quite moved by the imagery and synergy she created with her pieces.  Wenders doesn’t so much direct this documentary of her work as much as he just observes the art form.  He does what any good documentarian does…he documents.  I’m such a fan of documentaries that at first I struggled with wanting to know more about Bausch the woman.  I felt like I had to understand her to understand the work – and that’s just not so and not what the movie was made for.  I think a documentary of Bausch’s life is for another time…this film exists to exhaustively but brilliantly recreate her work and stretch the boundaries of performance.

The utilization of 3D has gotten a bit out of control in mainstream film but documentarians have started to use it as well.  Here it is employed to great effect by giving depth to the dances without the audience feeling like things are flying at their face.

The film is at its best when it ventures out of the confines of the theater.  I was in awe of the work that was captured in the ‘real’ world and found myself sitting up and taking notice when these pieces were presented.  Some were just seconds long while others were full on performances.  No matter the length there was something so visceral and immediate about these moments that they really made the piece for me.

Wenders takes an interesting method of gathering information from Pina’s dancers…he recorded their thoughts and then played them back and captures the interviewee hearing their voices and reacting to them.  It’s an effective technique that ends up producing a lot of shots of the dancers staring right through the camera.  While each person pretty much said the exact same thing, they were interesting subjects to watch.

I can see how this was nominated for Best Documentary and I can also see why it lost.  As much as the film captures the beauty of the body and the body in motion, it did feel a bit cold and inaccessible at times…much like Pina herself, from what I gather.

The Silver Bullet ~ “Bully” Trailer

 

Synopsis: A documentary on peer-to-peer bullying in schools across America.

Release Date:  TBA 2012

Thoughts:  If you’ve been reading any of the news out of Hollywood in the past two weeks you must have come across the hubbub over this documentary on the uptick in bullying and bullying related suicides.  The MPAA ratings board stuck this one with an “R” for its use of the f-bomb and after an appeal was denied producer Harvey Weinstein is considering withdrawing from the MPAA in protest.  Discussions about the validity of the ratings board are a hot button issue in Hollywood (documented well in the excellent documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated) and I’m very much on the side of Weinstein in this matter.  What the MPAA lets pass for a PG-13 has become increasingly loose and giving this an “R” will effectively prohibit it from being shown in schools.  This is an important movie with an meaningful message that could lead to change.  Weinstein doesn’t want to compromise and bleep anything in the film nor should he…it’s time that the MPAA was challenged and I’ve a feeling this movie is going to be a catalyst for change in not only the topic of bullying but to a much smaller degree the ratings system in the USA.

Movie Review ~ Wanderlust

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The Facts:

Synopsis: Rattled by sudden unemployment, a Manhattan couple surveys alternative living options, ultimately deciding to experiment with living on a rural commune where free love rules.

Stars: Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, Alan Alda, Lauren Ambrose, Malin Akerman

Director: David Wain

Rated: R

Running Length: 98 minutes

Random Crew Highlight:  First Greens – Sandi Cook

TMMM Score: (5.5/10)

Review: More than most comedies, your enjoyment of Wanderlust depends greatly on your sense of humor.  That seems pretty elementary, right?  Well the comedy on display in Wanderlust is a very specific blend that will not be for everyone.  It’s good to have comedies that challenge their audiences but it’s also rare to find a comedy that knows when to hold back.  Wanderlust succeeds at one and fails at the other. 

The team that brought you Wet Hot American Summer and TV’s The State are back again with another irreverent look at modern life through the eyes of two yuppie wannabees.  Rudd and Anniston have great chemistry (already on full display in their first outing a decade ago – The Object of My Affection) and both clearly are having a great time working off of eachother.  Anniston has publically said that making this film was the most fun she’s ever had on a movie set – and it’s clear to see that on screen.  Anniston seems very at ease though when she’s surrounded by a lot of comedians she tends to shrink a bit…a more commanding approach would suit her best.  I’ve always been a fan of hers and feel that she’s almost to where she needs to be in the risk-taking category.  Horrible Bosses was, largely, horrible but she was a revelation in it.  She doesn’t so much take a step back here as she sort of walks in place.  Here’s hoping she continues on this path.

Rudd continues his winning streak of memorable characters, though I found him a bit less appealing in this film than he has been in other recent work.  What I love about his work is that he’s entirely brave about his comedy and doesn’t seem to be doing things just to crack himself up.  Rudd delivers one of the single greatest funny bits of the last few years with a pep talk he gives to himself in a mirror.  Even though it goes on way too long I was entirely forgiving because it was so unbelievably funny.  How he did such a long take without laughing is something I’ll never understand.

The rest of the cast is made up of devotees of director Wain and co-writer Ken Marino (who also pops up as Rudd’s detestable brother in the one plotline that should have been totally cut) and all acquit themselves nicely.  I’m sure making this film was akin to a visit to summer camp and that’s largely what the film starts to feel like: a summer camp for avant-garde comedians.  The camera seems to just be turned on until they felt like stopping. 

The overall theme of the movie is getting away from commercialism and finding that inner peace without distraction.  It’s a concept that is growing in popularity and it’s handled fairly well here.  There is a lot of raunchy humor and pile of non-sexual nudity. The laughs are there, no question, but the degree to which you guffaw might be dependent on the style of comedy.  I, for one, began to grow a bit wary of the jokes that were beaten to death or the long-form improv that never really went anywhere.  My mind began to, dare I say it, wander….