Posts Tagged ‘Life of Pi’


I read Kim Nicolini’s review, and I was intrigued by the metaphor of the film.  A shipping container takes out a lone sailor’s yacht.  The seas are now littered with them and small fish like Robert Redford can no longer sail along as they used to.  The balance of nature has been disrupted, but nature always wins in the end.

The global market has fouled every corner of the world.  Will it be Redford’s savior, as he drifts helplessly across the ocean and through the shipping lanes, seeking rescue?

Some metaphors tie the story together, as it is an extremely sparse and minimal project.  One actor, one struggle.  The idea that the system may be suicidal and self-destructive enters later on.  By the ending we have a stunning ambiguity.  Was what just happened real?

The film received high praise and nominations during award season.  The production was far more intricate and filled with effects than it appeared.  It’s a pretty desolate, engaging tale, but a shame that Life of Pi  just did the lone survivor story so much bigger and better.  With Pi we were dazzled and seduced into a kind of dream world.  Here, things are “naturalistic” and logical.  It left me longing for some of the anagogic mystery of Pi.


The Academy shied away from endorsing torture lies. I’d like to think that the noise we all made had some real effect on their decisions. ZD30 ended up tying for sound — what-ever. Other than that, empty handed in every category.


Ang Lee takes home Best Director, and it is much-earned. Life of Pi is being compared to a religious experience by a whole lot of people, and it really is powerful and unforgettable.

Argo remains a poor substitute for an honest look at America’s role in the world. And we’ve talked enough about that.


On a more serious note, LIFE OF PI should win Best Picture. Here are a couple of articles on the film:

Captivating: Life of Pi (2012)

Life of Pi (2012)


Haven’t seen Silver Linings Playbook yet, but I think Kim Nicolini is rooting for it.


We already covered the hell out of the propagandistic ZD30 and Argo.

Anything  else to add, people?  Speak up.


There’s also the Django wildcard to contend with.  I highly doubt Academy members are going to go that way, but with votes getting split between 9 players, who know?


Django: Blowing the Pulp Out of Dixie

Django’s Vengeance

Django Unchained (2012)


by Joe Giambrone

Finally caught the 3D and immersive Life of Pi.  Would that I could have caught the 2D showing, as I hate 3D, but Kronos tends to lean toward annoying me.  The “Real 3D” system is both obtrusive and image-degrading, as many have commented on.  What they usually don’t mention is that the audience is forced to view, through cheap 10 cent plastic, used lenses, an image captured on $30,000 state of the art glass optics.  Way to fuck up the delivery chain.

Be that as it may, I can’t fault Ang Lee who turned in a spectacular, deeply layered epic masterpiece, and one of the best films of 2012.  Lee is well known for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as well as Hulk, which I avoided.  His has been a daring career of unconventional stories such as Lust, Caution, Taking Woodstock, The Ice Storm, and the completely unexpected Brokeback Mountain.

In Life of Pi we are caught up in the life of an Indian boy named Pi Patel who chose his own first name as a way of getting his classmates to stop calling him “Pisser.”  Pi comes upon the various religions of the world and decides to follow them all in a non-discriminatory fashion.  His is a quest to find God, one way or another.  His shipwreck story is presented to an author, so that it can become a book, although its veracity is in question.

Pi claims to have been shipwrecked in the Pacific on a lifeboat with several zoo animals.  His family had been transporting the animals across the ocean to sell in Canada.  The trip is harrowing, and his entire family is lost with the sinking of the cargo ship.  Pi is stranded with no hope for a rescue operation, set adrift in the middle of the world’s largest ocean.

In this context Pi truly faces both the prospect of meeting God as well as meeting his own true nature.  This is where the film excels and captivates, essentially transforming a simple story of a boy bobbing around on a lifeboat into a gripping, tense masterpiece that will be quite unforgettable and live on.

Any film which delves into the primal, base nature of humanity could be considered political.  Where morality breaks down, we devolve.  Extreme stress produces a stripping away of social constructs, the ideas which normally form our behavioral rules and mores.  How Pi handles this devolution and how he chooses to express these experiences are haunting, chilling, a sneak attack on one’s mental defenses.

The imagery of the film and its seamless, animated transitions from scene to scene flow like a dream.  Such remarkable cinematography, often the backgrounds are replaced with stunningly more beautiful glimpses of nature and living creatures who play their parts as in a choreographed ballet of life.

As one of our commenters, Sunni Evans said:

“The best movie I have ever seen! I’ll be thinking about the symbolism for years!”

I highly recommend Life of Pi and hope people will think about the concepts of the film for a long time afterward.

Life of Pi (2012)

Posted: November 24, 2012 in Kathleen Peine
Tags: , ,

An Exquisite Irrationality

Looking at the movie poster and ads for the new movie “The Life of Pi” might give one the impression that this film is some sort of hokey, after-school adventure- a movie best left unseen, but to miss this luscious and original offering would be a tremendous mistake. It’s generally a safe bet to avoid films that are available in 3D- from what I’ve seen, this is generally a hype that attempts to transcend serious shortcomings in story. Again, in the case of this film, that assumption is challenged and discarded.

I would normally never have opted to see the 3D version of this movie, but it just happened to be the showing available at the time we arrived. It’s difficult to get a teenage daughter to see a movie with you, so you have to move quickly when the opportunity presents itself. I was rewarded with “You know, most of my friends wouldn’t be seen with their mother at the movies. They think their moms are losers.” I am a loser, but it’s always nice if someone thinks otherwise, even for a moment.

So we land at the theater and grudgingly go with the 3D “experience”.

The film is about a young man named Piscine Patel- the unfortunate pronunciation of his first name (derived from a stunningly clear French swimming pool) sounds enough like pissing, that the boy adopts “Pi” as his first name. The movie is the descendant of a lovely book which was rejected about five times. Piis raised in a beautiful little enclave in India, an area that the French occupied for a time. His father is a zookeeper, and young Pi grows up in an idyllic environment. The garden-like atmosphere lends itself to retrospection, and Pi comically adopts all of the world’s large religions as he fumbles through the question of science versus the soul. It’s a fairly straight forward tale at this point, but after viewing the entire film, you will think back to the conversations and settings and realize that this film has layer upon layer of symbolism . It’s a richly crafted tale that never allows one to know a final truth, much like life.

Without spoiling the movie, I think I can say that that it moves into a beautiful and strange phase when Pi’s family sets off on a Japanese cargo ship to Canada. All of the animals are loaded up as well, as the family is sent towards a new life, deemed necessary by Pi’s scientific minded father. Disaster ensues when a horrific storm sends the cargo ship to the bottom of the sea; Pi is cast adrift in a lifeboat with unlikely companions, one of which is named Richard Parker. Richard Parker is not what you think he might be (on so many levels).

The film was directed by Ang Lee and due to this fact alone, you know that the film is going to be gorgeous. One of the most glorious filmed moments that I have ever witnessed was a moment of bio-luminescent grandeur.I had to rethink all my negative assumptions about the 3D technology as it made the scene tap into the wondrous parts of the brain which creates dreams and nightmares. Nighttime in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, the light from chemical reactions create a mystical world- but with a notable reminder that the beauty of nature comes with a terrifying and indifferent strength. I’ll admit, the film owned me after that bio-luminescent scene.

I’m struck with the fact that the light comes from a scientific chemical reaction, but the effect strikes the soul- magnifying the contrasting themes of the film and the impossibility of human ability to ever separate one from the other.

Pi’s mother represents the mystical, soulful pull and his father is about the analytical. The mixture produces something irrational, like “Pi”. You can never know the end of the number pi, yet it moves forward through time, forever.

So I’ve told you in a slight way (so as not to ruin anything) that this is a film about an Indian teenager who is thrust into the Pacific Ocean on a life raft. He is not alone, he has Richard Parker. And I’ve mentioned the sheer beauty of the film. I’ve never seen anything so mesmerizing. It’s a play of light on possibilities and holding conflicting realities in one’s mind at the same time. This is unlike any movie you’ve seen.

A middle aged Pi, played by Irfan Khan, tells his story to a dejected author who has purposefully sought him out because he has been told that Pi has a story that will make him believe in God. In the end, the author does come to believe in “God” or at least the version of events that God selects, as according to Pi. Oddly enough, this isn’t a study in deity worship because the ending is a subtle bombshell which will certainly roll around in your mind days later. What is real, what is irrational? Is simply believing enough? You can’t ever know, just as you’ll never reach the end of the number Pi. Don’t think that you have to believe in anything to find this film satisfying as it is not a religious polemic.

This ending is perhaps the only “irrational” denouement I’ve come across in a film, and for me it was absolutely transcendent.

In “Life of Pi” irrationality abounds, and it is exquisite.

Kathleen Peine is a writer who resides in the US Midwest. She can be reached for comment at kathypeine – at – gmail . com