Today's DVDs & Blue-rays: Pina and Imposter
Yes, Pina is a dance film, but it's not just for dance fans. Documentary filmmaker Wim Wenders puts together a series of performances by the late choreographer Pina Bausch using her dance company members. Some seem to be performed on a stage, others are transported to public settings such as a busy street corner or park. All of them are pushing the envelope of what is considered modern dance. Wenders is careful to say that this is a film for Bausch, rather than about her. With her gone, no one can explain her creative process or agenda. Instead her former dancers perform her works and let Bausch's choreography speak for itself.
Wenders shot Pina in 3D for its theatrical release and while Bausch's work seemed idea for the medium, it made for a less than ideal movie-going experience. The Criterion Collection DVD release leaves out the 3D and is much more satisfying.
Extras on the DVD release include a high-definition digital transfer approved by Wenders and audio commentary by the director. Also, a second disc includes deleted scenes, behind-the-scene footage, an interview with Wenders and The Making of Pina featurette. A booklet by Siri Hustvedt, with reprints of essays by Wenders and Bausch, acts as a guide to the film.
Imposter is about a different kind of performance. Based on the true story of 23-year-old Frenchman Frédéric Bourdin who passes himself off as Nicholas Barclay, a Texas boy who had gone missing years earlier. He fools French authorities and American consulate staffers in order to get a ticket to the US and after his arrival, he fools Barclay's family. Well, at least for a time. Barclay, who disappeared at age 13, was blond and blue-eyed. Bourdin was brown-eyed and had dark hair. He didn't speak any English and he didn't know any details about his family or life previous to his disappearance. Bourdin was able to deflect much of the authorities' inquires by saying he had been kidnapped and forced to work as a sex slave. Anytime they asked him a question, he would answer that it was too difficult to discuss, that he had blocked it out or that he didn't remember because his captors kept him on drugs.
It's understandable that his family, overjoyed to get Barclay back, could overlook details and accept the boy, but even the FBI bought his flimsy story. He explained his brown eyes by saying his captors had put drops in his eyes to make them darken so as to hide his real identity. And no one - not even the FBI - questioned his story.
Bourdin was eventually found out and exposed by a dogged private investigator working for a news crew who wanted to interview Barclay. The documentary is fascinating. We don't get many answers, but it's fascinating. Director Bart Layton manages to get everyone, from Bourdin to Barclay's family members to officials from various organizations involved with the case, to do on-camera interviews. No one can adequately explain themselves, not Bourdin as to why he wanted to pull such a con, not the family as to why they were so easily duped and not officials who overlooked red flags at every turn. But the lingering questions serve only to make the Imposter story more intriguing.