Here is a unique performance-styled documentary with the intimacy but hardly the context of A Chorus Line-inspired Every Little Step.
German New Wave pioneer Wim Wenders (for those who recall his Wings of Desire) makes Pina a celebration of a native dancer and choreographer. One that allows for the 3D format to be appreciated for its depth like recent endeavors, Hugo, and another mesmerizing documentary, Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Art house cineastes will not mind at all donning those large black-tinted glasses.
When this captivating cinema verity reaches the ancillary market, there may be interest in what went about into its making, as Wenders carried on the intent of his project, even after the death of its subject, Pina Bausch, shortly before principal photography was set to commence.
So, even with the subject's principal dancers as talking-heads (with some narration) and old clips (where Bausch is glimpsed), the disappointment may lie in not gaining more of a feel, a closeness to the dancer. More of a funereal tone is felt because of the impression left on a troupe by their beloved mentor. Yet, Wenders finds an excitement through a balletic art impressively immersed on an onlooker.
Four numbers in particular, including Cafe Muller (with chairs and tables), The Rite of Spring (a kind of dance-off between the sexes), and Vollomond (with its earthy stage), are covered with surprising visual panache as the Tanztheater company are dressed to the nines. And, the format has striking appeal when supple sensual bodies in graceful motion gravitate from the indoors to outside in Wuppertal, Germany.
For certain filmgoers, Pina will not have enough emotional attraction because of the limits put on the subject's personal life. However, more patient ones (especially anyone interested in dance or even those not cognizant of an entree or an adagio) will find it to be a tantalizing, thrilling delight made with meditative mastery by Wenders.