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Columnist: Paula Cunningham

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107 vote / runtime 93M / genre Music, Biography / John Cage / Alla Kovgan. Vegan leather cleaner. Filmcollectie_01 Film docsforsale_01 Docs for Sale Artboard Copy 2 Created with Sketch. Share Merce Cunningham (1919-2009) didn’t like to be referred to as avant-garde, just as a dancer. The influential dancer and choreographer saw dance simply as a matter of “people moving around in various ways. ” He also felt it shouldn’t be charged with meaning, but that interpretation should be left to the viewer. This restraint contrasted sharply with Cunningham’s inexhaustible energy for exploration over his 70-year career. He merged elements from classical and modern dance, and because he thought any movement of the human body could be incorporated into dance, he believed that anyone could be a dancer. In this documentary, Cunningham’s radical views and intense curiosity are captured inventively in words and images. Monologues and interviews with Cunningham and the people with whom he worked accompany an eclectic montage of archive footage and dance excerpts, which 3D technology makes all the more surprising. We also frequently hear from the composer John Cage, in whom Cunningham found not only a professional soulmate, but also the love of his life. Credits Production Helge Albers for Achtung Panda! Media GmbH, Ilann Girard for Arsam International Co-production DocWorks, Chance Operations Cinematography Mko Malkhasyan Show all credits IDFA history 2019 Dutch Premiere Best of Fests.


Cunningham trailer. Excellent and insightful film on the creative genius, Merce Cunningham. I will recommend to all my friends. Cunningham chris. Cunningham funeral home bridgeport il. Cunningham gas spring tx. Cuningham group. T he 3D format, all the rage for about five minutes after Avatar, makes a comeback. Not deployed for a Hollywood blockbuster, but to capture dance in a documentary about the pioneering choreographer Merce Cunningham, who died in 2009 aged 90. The headachey effect of the technology (and faff for the glasses-wearers of having to put 3D goggles over our specs) justifies itself with some gorgeous closeups that take the viewer right inside the sequences. Yet the most exhilarating footage is the black-and-white archive of the young Cunningham dancing with uncanny animal alertness. He had the most beautiful feet: exquisite long articulate toes, each one a dancer in its own right, a personal troupe of 10. The film is, I think, just as Cunningham would have wanted it: cerebral, highbrow and mildly frustrating, with nothing so conventional as talking heads or context. His work was unlike anybody else’s, with its insistence that dancing is its own language, not there to express the music or to tell a story. One of Cunningham’s methods was “choreography by chance”, throwing dice or using I Ching to decide the sequence of movements. In the 1940s, he began a lifelong partnership with the composer John Cage, who provided jangly experimental scores. The men were also a couple, but that’s exactly the kind of autobiographical detail this film holds itself above. Animal alertness … Merce Cunningham in 1967. Photograph: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images The movie covers his working life from the 1940s to the 70s. Cunningham gives the impression of being ego-free and open, yet in rehearsals his dancers look tense, desperate to please. The company was disbanded after his death; some members returned to perform in the 3D dances here. In archive interviews, Cunningham, Cage and the gang speak with an idealistic earnestness we’ve lost in today’s culture. You can only imagine such eagerness now through the irony of a Wes Anderson filter, with Willem Dafoe as an ageing Cunningham. • Cunningham is in UK cinemas on 13 March.

Movies | ‘Cunningham’ Review: Exploring Space, Time and Dance in 3-D Critic’s Pick Alla Kovgan’s documentary about Merce Cunningham shows aspects of his choreography that can be difficult to convey on conventional film. Credit... Mko Malkhasyan/Magnolia Pictures Published Dec. 11, 2019 Updated Dec. 13, 2019 Cunningham NYT Critic's Pick Directed by Alla Kovgan Documentary, Biography, Music PG 1h 33m The screen is flat, but the space is round, both infinite and enveloping. The human figures in it, camouflaged, should blend in with the background. But they stick out in every direction, moving every which way. This thrilling fragment of the choreographer Merce Cunningham’s 1958 dance “Summerspace” is sufficient justification to make a documentary about Cunningham in 3-D. The technology conveys aspects of his radical aesthetic that are otherwise difficult to suggest on film. And that’s only one reason that Alla Kovgan’s “Cunningham” is an excellent introduction to a great body of work that can be hard to get a handle on. One of Cunningham’s many innovations was to dissolve the spatial organization and frontal focus of the proscenium stage, making all parts equal, with dancers facing and moving in any orientation and often several things happening at once. Kovgan’s film doesn’t reproduce this so much as find a vivid equivalent. The camera, choosing what you see, diminishes the feeling of simultaneity. But by moving into and through the dances in 3-D, it offers an immersive sense of what Cunningham called “a space in which anything can happen. ” It helps you see how the air around a dancer can seem as alive as the flesh. If 3-D helps put Cunningham across, it isn’t required. Some of the most seductive footage here isn’t the new performances of old works (1942-1972) that Kovgan filmed in 3-D, like “Summerspace, ” but lower-resolution, 2-D archival footage, much of it rare and irreplaceable. What makes it irreplaceable are the original performers, especially Cunningham himself, surely one of the greatest dancers of all time. His longtime muse Carolyn Brown speaks of his “quiet center” and “animal authority”; we see all that and more. It’s another strength of the film that the voices we hear are hers and his and those of other company members, recorded long ago. No current-day experts are needed to establish the core ideas of the Cunningham aesthetic, from the use of chance in composition to the independence of dance and music. The choice not to use new or outside voices keeps us in the period, and it helps preserve a Cunningham-like tact around personal facts. Although much of the film proceeds in chronological order, there’s almost no biographical back story; the long-shrouded relationship between Cunningham and the composer John Cage is delicately (and moving) presented in a single exchange of inexplicit letters. Likewise, tensions between Cunningham and his dancers aren’t hidden, but they’re not over-explained, either. Emotion roils beneath a deceptively placid surface. A story accrues. The same tact extends to questions of meaning. Cunningham’s practical-gnomic explanations illuminate without shutting down options. Kovgan doesn’t follow Cunningham’s courage all the way, though. As if to compensate for the lack of 3-D in the archival material, she collages it, splitting the screen into many panels. It’s artful but effortful, drawing too much attention to itself. That’s also true of much of the new footage. The elegant camera movements and dramatic settings chosen by Kovgan — dance in a formal garden that the camera glides away from, over a pond, like a dragonfly — are beautiful but often distract from what they are intended to display. The 90-minute film excerpts 14 works, which means that the snippets are quite short. This excerpting has a precedent in Cunningham practice. He liked to mix up pieces of many works in one-off performances called Events. Formally and philosophically, his focus was on each moment, with little linear development. The well-chosen selections in “Cunningham” reproduce the variety of a Cunningham Event, and give the Cunningham experience of luminous instants. But what the film doesn’t give is an accurate sense of Cunningham time. In a Cunningham dance, the mind can wander, experience different rates of change, be baffled, engrossed, astonished, bored. The price of Kovgan’s efficiency is impatience, always cutting away and moving on. “Cunningham” registers the resistance that its subject encountered: the puzzlement, the thrown fruit. But as a film, it doesn’t take comparable risks, so it precludes the possibility of certain rewards, ones you have to see the full dances to get. That’s what makes it a good introduction. Cunningham Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 33 minutes.

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  • Great to see a film about dancing! A relatively unexplored sub-genre of documentary, and Cunningham was welcome for this alone. It adds to a hole that I suppose Wenders' Pina opened.


  • On that note, this film should not have been shot in 3d, which added nothing but nausia. We expect the 3d was entirely for the purpose of (a) copying Pina and, relatedly, b) getting funding. But Cunningham's dances are far less spectacular and their presentation here likewise. The 3d only distracts from the movement in all but one Warhol-involved set, especially when edited with 2d archival.


  • First half entertaining, second boring. The film progresses at a monotonous pace: one thing happens and then another and then another. No real conflict or tension.

Which is a problem. Because there evidently was plenty of this, but only in reality. The movie, on the other hand, brushes past unconvincingly. No one in the film is given space apart from Cunningham - everyone else speaks to convince the audience how great he is. I wanted to hear from one of his female dancers honestly, in long form, of the darkness of Cunningham. This would help to flesh out his character, give us something to chew on, and organise the film into a narrative. As is, we grew progressively distrusting and disengaged with the Greatest Hits/ Victory Lap tone, before the film ends suddenly with the news that all his dancers left.

  • Ultimately we were left unconvinced that Cunningham (the dancer) was all that interesting. Fashionable certainly, he's attached to the right people, and I'm sure it would be great to be dancing as him, but the just-over-half-full prime-time-at-the-festival cinema was an endless circuit of yawns.


  • Nevertheless we feel cultured now.


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