The Movie Weekend Recap: 2/10/12

posted by Rolocop


PINA – Acclaimed filmmaker Wim Wenders’ new film has been nominated for Best Documentary.  It’s not a Documentary in the traditional sense.  It’s between a biography and an experimental art film like Koyaanisqatsi……. kind of.  Actually, it’s more like a concert film, but with gorgeous images.

Pina Bausch is a German modern dance performer/choreographer.  She died in 2009, and this film is a loving tribute to her work.  It’s a series of her most notable dance pieces performed by dancers who have worked with her.  In between the pieces, we meet each dancer as they give testimony to why Pina was the greatest at what she does.  It’s not bogged down with back story about her personal life.  No.  This is all about her work.  The result is surprisingly entertaining.

The film is shot in 3D, but (not unlike Scorsese with HUGO) Wenders does a marvelous job making sure that there are multiple depths of field in every shot, giving each image an elaborateness.  I found every performance to be unique and exhilarating.  Wenders also switches back and forth from shooting dances on a stage to using public locations.  My favorite pieces were:  One where a guy keeps moving chairs rhythmically to the music, one where several men are clawing at a woman, one where a girl keeps falling headfirst into a man’s arms, and the opening dance where people are dancing on dirt.  It’s all quite amazing.

This has some of the most fantastic moments you’ll see in a film involving performance art.  It may be a bit arty for some, but those who appreciate this sort of thing (or those who like to try new and different things) will surely enjoy it.  I think it’s perfect for this to come out on Valentine’s Day weekend.  The dances are magical and romantic, and I think it’s the best date movie out there.  It opens this weekend at the Showplace Icon.  Bring a date, go up to the bar beforehand, have some fine wine, and see PINA.  It’s a perfect night out!  Opening at Showplace Icon in St. Louis Park Rating:


STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE – So sue me!  I unapologetically love the prequels.  I think it’s great that a generation that hasn’t seen them on the big screen will get the opportunity beginning this weekend!  I can’t wait to bring my kid! In Wide Release.  Rating:



The Oscar Nominated Shorts – Starting this weekend at The Lagoon, you’ll be able to see the 5 Live action shorts and the 5 animated shorts nominated Academy Awards, with separate programs for each category.

First, The Live Action Shorts – I wasn’t too impressed with many this year.  My least favorite being RAJU, about a couple adopting and then losing an orphan.  It was pretty bland.  TIME FREAK has a (too) cute premise about a guy who invented a time machine, that just feels like a hack student project with a larger budget.  PENTECOST is a fun (but hollow) one joke-gimmick about an altar boy obsessed with Football (Soccer).  The two best were: THE SHORE starring Ciaran Hinds in a light-hearted drama about a Irishman who returns home to make amends with old friends.  It’s a slight little movie, but the acting made it worth watching.  My favorite had to be TUBA ATLANTIC from Norway.  It’s about a cranky old man who’s going to die in 6 days, and is visited by his death angel-in-training (who turns out to be a teenage girl with braces).  They bond by killing seagulls and trying to use his giant Tuba as a communication device to contact a friend who lives in the States.  It’s a strange movie, but it’s the only one with a sure sense of style.  It was fun.






The Animated Shorts – Still a mixed bag, but well worth the trip to catch this program.  WILD LIFE is about a Englishman trying to start a life in early 1900’s America. I found it to be dull and indulgent, with a crude animation style that just didn’t work.  DIMANCHE/SUNDAY also has a low budget animation style.  It just follows a family on their normal Sunday routine without anything really exciting happening.  It has a slight charm, but that’s about it.  A MORNING STROLL shows a chicken coming home in three different time periods.  20’s, present, and 50 years in the future (with the animation style changing with the times).  It begins with subtle humor and ends with a loud and bizarre chase.  It’s a one joke short, but it works.  LA LUNA is the latest from Pixar.  Not surprisingly, the animation is perfect and the whimsical story (a boy learning how to clean stars off of the moon with two old men) is charming.  But the best of the bunch is THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE, which is an homage to Wizard of Oz and Buster Keaton (the main character even looks like him.)  In a year that saw both THE ARTIST and HUGO in movie theaters, this fits right in with filmmakers paying homage to the golden age of cinema.  Everything about it is wonderful, and is filled to the brim with imagination.

WILD LIFE -Rating:



LA LUNA -Rating:



Also opening in theaters this weekend:

THE VOW – I’m really starting to like Channing Tatum.  When he first started out in STEP UP, I thought he was a joke, but I think he’s improved immensely.  He’s the best thing about this pretty standard romantic melodrama about a young woman (Rachel McAdams) who can’t remember anything about her husband (Tatum) after a car accident.  The scenes the two leads have together are effective and the direction is actually really good, but the cliched subplots involving McAdams’s parents (when the hell did Jessica Lange become a bad actress and get a munchkin voice?) and her ex had me yawning.  Girls who want to see a romance just to see a romance on Valentine’s Day will like… because they’ll want to.  Me?  I wanted more.  Not terrible though.  Wide Release Rating:

SAFE HOUSE – Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington do what they can with this standard action material, but the movie becomes almost unwatchable during every action scene thanks to lots of shaky-cam and poor editing.  Wide Release  Rating:

JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND – The Rock is so much better than the material.  His pecks provide a few laughs (even if it makes no sense within context of his character), but the movie is like JURASSIC PARK….. but without the likable characters, a sense of danger, state-of-the-art visual effects, solid writing and it being entertaining.  Kids were laughing during it, so maybe if your kids have been raised on poorly made Nickelodeon films, they might enjoy it.  But I show my kid good movies like TIME BANDITS and WILLOW, so I won’t be taking my daughter to this crap.  Wide Release.  Rating:

CONQUEST – Wasn’t screened for me.  At St. Anthony Main.

Thursday, February 9th, 2012 at 11:39 pm