The Arbor (2011) – Clio Bernard

Dense documentary about the life of a¬†playwrite told through the lines of her work, recited by actors, out of context of the plays. This makes for an interesting premise but can make the whole enterprise confusing and at arm’s length with the audience. I was just praising Pina for forgoing biographical information and talking head expository and simply show the person’s work but director Clio Bernard doesn’t have the same lack for staging as Wim Wenders (of course dancing is very different than stage drama). It’s fascinating to watch documentaries explore the boundary of that term but it’s too difficult in The Arbor to even understand what’s going on that it becomes distracting, a puzzle, a gimmick, less than a film.

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