Tuesday, October 17, 2017

1041. Life of Pi

Life of Pi
Directed by Ang Lee

I read this book awhile ago on a transatlantic flight.  I was flying coach and had strep throat.  So much like Pi, I know something about stressful travel situations.  Anyway, the book was amazing but it took prompting from the List to get me to see the film.

Pi Patel, an Indian man who survived a horrific shipwreck when he was 16, tells his story to an author (everyone knows shipwreck stories can only be told through flashback and narration).  Pi was an unusual boy who decided to adopt Christianity and Islam as his religions, in addition to Hinduism, which was his family's faith.  Pi's father owns a zoo and decides to take his family and all his animals to Canada to settle there.  During a storm, the ship founders and Pi escapes on a lifeboat with a wounded zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a tiger.

Visually, this is obviously a gorgeous movie, but it has more to offer than that.  At one point, Pi says, "Hunger can change everything you ever thought you knew about yourself."  While I am not religious, let alone triple religious, I have my own tenets, which include practicing vegetarianism and not killing anything (except other people's good times).  It was fascinating watching Pi try to hang on to his humanity in his situation, when we all know it's going to be a losing battle.  It's not a movie like Lifeboat or The Belko Experiment that tries to answer these questions (and in the case of Belko, gleefully revels in its chosen response).  It is a much more personal story and it also has a really cool tiger.  Ahem. 

Suraj Sharma was such a compelling actor and I can't wait to see what else he will do.  I don't want to spoil the ending, but I also thought it was brilliant.  And fuck hyenas.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Suraj Sharma only went to the audition to support his brother.

CGI tiger was used for most of the film, but they used a real tiger in the shot of it swimming in the ocean.

Monday, October 2, 2017

1040. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Directed by J.J. Abrams

I have been putting off watching the new Star Wars.  I'm hesitant to embrace this kind of fan service.  I've been hurt before (btw my church does not recognize The Cursed Child as canon).  It's like they think doing something as simple as reworking a quote from the original will send the fans into raptures, forgetting the fact that we all liked the thing in the first place precisely because it was like nothing we have seen before.  But hey, it's on The List.  As The List goes, so goes my nation.

The galaxy is once again being threatened, this time by the First Order.  Kylo Ren (think Darth Vader with a slightly different outfit) is trying to locate Luke Skywalker, who has gone into hiding.  A resistance fighter, Poe Dameron, obtains a map to Luke's location, but he is captured by Kylo Ren and tortured.  Poe's droid, BB-8, escapes with the map and meets Rey, a scavenger.  A stormtrooper, Finn, has a crisis of conscience and helps Poe escape.  Rey and Finn team up with Han Solo to try to stop the First Order from destroying the galaxy.   Man, for such a simple story this sounds kind of complicated in summation.

This reminded me of a video game re release, where story is essentially the same, but the weapons are slightly improved and the developers give you more avatars to work with.  I did appreciate that there was more diversity in the cast (how does that work exactly?  Does each race have its own planet?).  The movie is too weak to stand on its own; you have to tolerate much nudging and winking.  Yes, I remember you saying "we've got company."  Yeah, I got the reference the first time, you didn't have to say it again.

All that being said, it is a fun, suspenseful movie.  Compared to the prequels, this is Citizen Kane.  Still, if you love something, shouldn't you let it go?

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

John Williams received his 50th Oscar nomination for this film.

Had 13 producers.

RIP Carrie Fisher.