“You just have to get crazier” were the words of advice mighty choreographer Pina Bausch once gave to one of her dancers, who fondly recalls the moment in Wim Wenders' soaring Pina, a 3-D tribute to the woman who revolutionized the art with her tanztheater (“dance theater”) — and who died unexpectedly right before shooting on the project began in 2009. Wenders, a friend and fan of Bausch's since 1985, immediately shut down the production, which seemed unimaginable without her guidance. But her ensemble members convinced him to proceed; their brief, mostly alfresco solo and duet performances are interspersed with voiceover memories of their beloved leader and excerpts from live stagings of four of Bausch's works, plus archival footage of the blade-thin woman herself, her spirit wafting through the film like the smoke from her ever-present cigarette.
Get crazier: Bausch's choreography (at least to this unversed writer) emphasizes big emotions, Sisyphean gestures and the pleasingly absurd, sometimes all at once. Wenders' expert use of 3-D puts viewers up close to the spaces, both psychic and physical, inside and out, of Bausch's work. Pina gives us the supreme pleasure of watching fascinating bodies of widely varying ages in motion, whether leaping, falling, catching, diving, grieving, or exulting. —Melissa Anderson (ArcLight Hollywood, Landmark)