February 2012 archives

Prior to this film, I had seen Pina Bausch's dance group perform once. I left feeling somewhat disatisfied, but after seeing this film, I wish I had gone back to see more of Pina's work while she was still alive.

Wim Wenders has created a remarkable document of Pina's art and a beauiful portrait of her dancers. What's equally astounding is that he's made the best 3D movie I have ever seen. In the much touted Avatar, I was disappointed to find that Cameron adhered to traditional camera techniques to focus the audience's attention on the actors. Unfortunately, I often found the foreground action dull and longed to look at the background details; something I couldn't do due to the film's narrow depth of field casting the background into a blur.

Pina is unafraid of letting the viewer shift their gaze. Using deep focus in many of the sequences, Wenders allows each plane to be clear and distinct. If you're curious about the dancers in the background you can watch them as easily as those in the foreground. I've never seen a 3D film that felt so real.

Amazingly, the 3D is merely the icing on the cake. The selection of dances is wide-ranging, exploring both the depth of the choreography and the skill of the dancers. Being able to see their expressions adds dimension to the work, drawing the audience further into the choreography.

The film begins with a work that cycles through the four seasons as the company parades by. Wenders uses it as a motif that runs through the film, and at the end it calls to mind The Seventh Seal, a fitting tribute to the woman who brought such artistry into the world.

Learn more about the film on its official site.

By eugene at 8:24 PM | Leave a comment | Tags: , ,

February 8, 2012

The soundtrack of our lives

I've been casting about for things to listen to lately. Searching through my iTunes I found a playlist I created for a birthday party I threw last year. Listening to it again, I realized two of the songs appeared because of Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

One was a song I first heard in college, U2's "Ultraviolet" (sorry, Karen). It was never my favorite song from Achtung Baby, but in the film the song is a revelation. The director smash cuts to the back of a woman's head framed against clear blue skies, her hair wild in the wind. On the soundtrack, the song begins with first drumbeats of the song (eschewing the slow 45 second intro on the album). After finishing the film I went back and watched this scene over and over again; the sense of freedom it conveys is astonishing. There's much to recommend the film beyond this sequence, but it's the one sequence that has stuck with me most. There's a clip of this scene on YouTube that I was tempted to link to, but it's really much better in context (instead the link above is a live version with Bono singing into a glowing steering wheel).

The second is "Don't Kiss Me Goodbye," by Ultra Orange & Emanuelle, a band I had never heard of before (and tied to the first song by the appearance of "Ultra" in the bandname). There's not as much to say about this. The ringing guitars and the ennui conveyed in the lead singer's accented voice as she sings the title is irresistable to me.

For those curious about the full list of songs, I've included it in the extended portion of this post. I had wanted to write liner notes for the mix, but never quite got around to it. Maybe I'll make it the subject of a future post, if I find the time.

By eugene at 11:41 PM | 3 comments | Tags: ,