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February 13, 2012 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-02-13

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8A - Monday, February 13, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

'Pina' mesmerizes

Dance-based film
tribute captures
beauty in 3-D
Daily Arts Writer
Passion. Inspiration. Pain.
Longing. Such was the story
of Pina Bausch. And she told it
only one way -
through dance.
Other than the "
personal inter- Pina
views with
members of At the
Bausch's the- Michigan
ater company Sundance Selects
there's nothing in "Pins" to sug-
gest that it's a documentary.
Instead, the film is a breathtaking
collage of Bausch's most famous
works, translated onto the screen
with love and admiration by her
How else would you tell the
story of someone who told their
own story through dance? How
else do you portray the life of
someone who lived through their
art? The only way, the right way,
is to let their art do the talking.
And if a picture is worth a thou-
sand words, a dance is worth
more. That's how German direc-
tor Wim Wenders ("Palermo
Shooting") approached B'ausch's
life in "Pina."
A young woman flexes her
muscles, saying "I am strong."
There's pain in her eyes, and
she wants to prove her strength.
Then she relaxes. The man hid-
den behind her, who was actually
the one flexing his muscles, steps
out. The woman brings her hands
in front, embraces herself and
breaks into dance. She is strong
through her dance.
A few minutes later, another
womanperforms onsome strand-
ed rocks in a stream. She's sur-
rounded by the beauty of hills,



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rite, riin House

Why youshouldn't trust personal ads.
of trees, of nature. Out of the
river emerges a hippopotamus.
She dances for him atnd then to
him. She embraces the big, scary
animal. And through dance, she
overcomes fear and learns to love
the beast.
These inspirational perfor-
mances are the stories that make
up "Pina." They are the film
and its plot. However, they also
almost didn't make it to the sil-
ver screen. Bausch and Wenders
started collaborating on "Pina"
in 2009, only a few months
before Bausch's sudden death.
Wenders stopped production,
but resumed the project after
dancers of Tanztheater Wup-
pertal convinced him to make
the film.
The choice to shoot "Pina"
in 3-D was a strange one. At
first, it seems like there's noth-
ing in this film that needs to be
given an extra dimension. Until,
of course, one sees the dances.
These performances were origi-
nally designed for the sanctum of
Bausch's theater, and seeingthem
in 3-D is the only way to do their
potency justice. Here, Wenders
must be applauded for making
such a risky decision that pays off
beautifully on screen.
Wenders doesn't focus much
on the interviews, but the few he
manages to capture indicate that

the pieces the dancers are per-
forming are the ones that most
accurately tell Bausch's story.
After performing on the cross-
section of two busy roads, a danc-
er recalls Bausch watching her
from the sidelines: "It was like
Pina was living every moment
with her dancers, sometimes like
a child, full of all the feelings we
were having."
After dancing with the hip-
popotamus, another says "I even
identified her with this big, sweet
monster. All of her pieces were
about love and pain and beauty
and sorrow."
Wenders captures the most
important aspects of Bausch's
life - her dancers and the dances
she choreographed - with integ-
rity. By focusing solely on perfor-
mance, he ensures that Bausch's
passion and love for dance flow
through the movie undisturbed.
The soundtrack, strategically
implemented, adds even more
depth to the already dramatic
While caught up at times in
its own love affair with Bausch,
"Pina," with its beautiful chore-
ography and eye-catching cin-
ematography, is a mesmerizing
ode to the power of dance. It lives
and breathes by Bausch's motto:
"dance, dance, otherwise we are
all lost."

DailyArts Writer
Despite its unoriginal, CIA-
agent-gone-bad plot and its
predictable characters, "Safe
House" will
still enter-
tain audi-
ences that safe House
crave a grip-
ping action At Quality 16
flick. The plot, and Rave
of Angelina Universal
Jolie's "Salt"
and Matt Damon's "Bourne"
series, is pretty standard as far
as thrillers go: The bad guys
turn out to be good, the good
guys turn out to be bad, and the
CIA is always evil. In his Ameri-
can debut, director Daniel Espi-
nosa keeps audiences hooked
with his new take on this formu-
laic genre.
Ryan Reynolds ("The Propos-
al") plays Matt Weston, a young
CIA agent who spends his days
tryingto keep himselfentertained
as he guards a safe house in Cape
Town. His life changes instantly
when Tobin Frost (Denzel Wash-
ington, "American Gangster"), a
well-known fugitive and ex-CIA
operative, is delivered to his door-
step. When some mercenaries

come knocking (figuratively, of build up the action and suspense,
course - they would never be so making "Safe House" a compel-
polite), Weston and Frost must go ling visual story. At times, he
on the run from flying bullets and gives too much away - a number
a pack of mean-looking bad guys. of intense close-ups of Brendan
Washington gives his custom- Gleeson ("Harry Potter and the
aryrough, rage-filled actionhero Deathly Hallows: Part 1"), who
portrayal. Some of the scenes plays Weston's boss, reveal his
even look as though they've bad nature, making his transition
been ripped straight from his from good guy to enemy almost
other movies, such as "Train- inevitable.
ing Day" and "Man on Fire." Espinosa does what he can
But there's a reason Washington to make the story as original as
keeps starring in these types of possible. For one thing, Frost
willingly walks into the Ameri-
can consulate in South Africa
Nothing 'Safe,' and gives himself up. Espinosa
also shies away from unrealistic
except plot, scenarios in this film. Weston
and Frost get beat up - a lot -
and they don't just walk away
from fights unscathed.
movies: He's great at playing a Fair warning: This movie's
badass. Reynolds, a newcomer not for the faint of heart. It's
to non-comic based action, plays gory and has some strikingly sad
Weston well, despite seeming a scenes that one might expect
little too pretty to play the part. from a film like "Hotel Rwan-
But with all the fights and gun- da." While it's obviously not the
fire going on, he gets dirtied up best movie to see if you're in the
rather fast and becomes a little mood for a wide range of emo-
more convincing as an innocent tional acting, "Safe House" will
agent slowly starting to realize definitely keep viewers enter-
the betrayal surrounding him. tained for its 115-minute run-
Espinosa does a remarkably time. For all the action buffs out
good job on his first non-Swedish there, this movie is guaranteed
film. All of the close-ups, quick to keep you squirming with sus-
cuts and handheld-camera work pense.

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