Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2012


You may not have heard of Pina Bausch before seeing Wim Wenders' Academy-Award-nominated documentary, Pina.  Even after seeing the film, you will be in posession of virtually no biographical information about the German dancer and choreographer, not even her surname.  Nonetheless, what becomes quite clear throughout the 103 loving, bracing minutes of Pina is what an extraordinary influence Ms. Bausch had on seemingly everyone with whom she worked.

The members of her Tantztheater Wuppertal company, as diverse in age as is in nationality, speak of her in near-mystical terms.  "I'm not interested in how my dancers move. I'm interested in what moves them," she once said.  By all accounts offered by her dancers in the documentary, Pina was able to see in them and elicit from them their best, often with a minimum of direction.  "Be more crazy," she implored one member of her company; "keep searching," was her ambiguous instruction to another.  This…

A Dangerous Method

In glancing at a few reviews prior to seeing A Dangerous Method, I recall one that noted audiences  finding the film "too talky."  While this seems tantamount to finding The Artist a tad too silent, it does point out the difficultly facing David Cronenberg and his accomplished screenwriter, Christopher Hampton (adapting his 2002 play, The Talking Cure, based on the novel by John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method:  the story of Jung, Freud and  Sabina Spielrein).  Just how do you create something cinematic about the early days of psychoanalysis and a few of its leading figures?  Do you attempt to flesh out these extremely complex historical figures and do justice to most of the intellectual issues with which they grappled, at the risk of producing something that is too...well, clinical?  Or do you go the more florid, Ken Russel route with these august personages?  Freudomania, anyone?

A kind of middle ground is achieved,which goes back to Mr. Kerr's decision to include Russi…

The Ides of March

"As Ohio goes, so goes America."  This the pronouncement from a political commentator in George Clooney's latest film, The Ides of March.   The setting for the Ides of March is the Ohio Democratic presidential primary.  It's an appropriate enough place to set a political thriller, Ohio being one of those proverbial battleground states, as the political pundits like to remind us.  The state usually does figure large in primaries and general elections.  Just ask John Kerry, whose presidential aspirations found their graveyard in Ohio in 2004.

The Ides of March is based on the play Farragut North, by Beau Willimon.  The playwright was apparently a staffer on another 2004 campaign, that of Howard Dean, which fizzled out after a big showing in Iowa.  In adapting Willimon's play, Clooney and his writing partner Grant Heslov have added the character of presidential candidate and standing governor, Mike Morris (Clooney).  Morris is something of a compendium of recent Dem…