Saturday, December 1, 2012

If it happened, it happened. Why should it 'mean' anything?

When my younger brother moved from the family house on the Big Island of Hawai'i to his new residence outside of Honolulu, Oahu, he decided to take his parakeet, Lenny, with him. Never being one to let rules and formality interfere with getting things done, my brother simply put the bird in his pocket and boarded the aircraft. Everything seemed to be going smoothly, when just before takeoff, an older woman boarded the same flight carrying a large cage. Sure enough, this woman had her cherished pet parrot in her lap, traveling, well, legitimately. Moments after the doors shut and the plane began to taxi, the parrot started to squawk uncontrollably. And passengers all over the plane must have thought, God, not only is that parrot going crazy, but I swear it sounds like there's two of them in here. Unbelievable, right?

Also unbelievable, is the fact that every frame of Ang Lee's Life of Pi is something to marvel at. From the nature-doc style of the opening shots to the fantastical middle and end sequences, Life of Pi should undoubtedly be seen on the big screen. I saw it in 2D with my older brother and sister, but we all desperately longed for the 3D version. 

More important than the visuals, obviously, is the story. Based on Yann Matel's 2001 novel, this film tells a tale about a young man stranded at sea in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger (of all things). While traveling from Manilla to Canada, the ship Pi and his family were traveling on, sinks during a hellacious storm. Pi is the only human survivor. Told through flashback, Pi details his 227 days at sea and the unbelievable events that occurred. From the impressive encounter with a whale, to the improbable visit to an island that kills, the limits of credibility and faith are stretched increasingly thin. Whether you believe any of it is up to you, but clearly - that's the point. Decide for yourself. And be at peace with your decision.

I haven't yet read the book this film was based on, but I will. I loved the ending so much, I immediately wanted to watch the movie again. Instead, I'll think I'll opt for the novel, to dust off the ol' imagination, and also because I'm curious to see what was added and/or left out, especially regarding the conclusion. More so than most movies, the ending here was utterly vital. It's so simple, but also very beautiful. I'm not a religious person, but the message here felt perfect.

The opposite of a perfect message at the end? Easy. The Yays and Boos. Uncultured swine, those two.

  • Pi's uncle! That guy is incredibly um, put-together. I wish I had a goal like his.
  • As someone who always dreaded the first time a teacher took attendance out loud (my name was embarrassing enough, but so many teachers called me Maria), I loved the vigor that Pi showed in changing his fate. Nothing like a little math to kick some ass at school.
  • This totally says something about me, I'm sure, but I marveled at Pi's father. This guy was inspiring in his steadfast belief in reason above all else. He might have been cold (and perhaps even crazy) but I loved his parenting style. Oddly inspirational. And hardcore. Very hardcore.
  • Love a good cameo-by-the director. Old school.
  • Though the entire film is stunning to look at, the ship sinking sequence is in my top 5 movie moments in the last decade. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. So visceral. I thought it was the most impressive disaster sequence I'd ever scene, until...well, the next movie I saw.
  • Suck on that, hyena! Move over Rafiki, Richard Parker is now the chief ass-kicker of hyenas.
  • Is this the best CGI ever? Just entering the conversation is a Yay.
  • Suraj Sharma. What a great performance in an incredibly demanding role. 
  • And finally, I know I've already said it, but I loved the ending so much. I didn't weep uncontrollably, which would have been nice, but I think a few Bostonians did. 

  • Speaking of Massholes, a woman in the audience vocalized her disgust rather frankly when Pi's dad wanted to prove the soulless nature of animals. Poor goat.
  • The fact that I'm pretty sure I pissed myself the first time we saw the tiger, Richard Parker.
  • And speaking of tigers and piss, that was pretty foul when Pi tried to claim his territory.
  • New movie rule #3.14: Always go with your brother when he decides he's curious about a lightning storm.
  • I always wanted to hear the sound a zebra made under duress. For nine straight minutes.
  • The animal lovers are losing their minds protesting this one. Seriously missing the point. Oh, and no one seems to feel bad for the rat, huh?
  • Last but not least, Gerard Depardieu. You rotten French bastard.
My opening story is entirely true, even though it seems a little far fetched. But believing it or not, is completely up to you. Maybe I've stretched the truth, or even substituted animals for people, but in the end it simply doesn't matter. It's a harmless, though hopefully entertaining tale that made you think about something you normally wouldn't.

Hmm. Reminds me of a movie I once saw.


  1. This really is a movie to be experienced on the big screen. Completely mesmerising! I'm fortunate I saw it in 3D. My eye definitely didn't notice the CGI for the animals. Realistic as ever.

    I've read reviews that said the early part of Pi's life wasn't interesting, and I disagree. Pi addressing his name issues was awesome! Makes me wonder what the "M" in your name actually stands for... but Maria does sound interesting! Well at least I choose to believe that.

    1. The M is for Mario. At least a half dozen times in my schooling career, the teacher (or even college professor) would say "Maria Brown, Maria?" and I would have to correct them as some jackasses snickered on the other side of the room.

      I should have stood up and done some long division. That would have showed them.

  2. You're doing all Christmas movies for the month of December, right? I recommend Jingle All the Way for your first pick.

    1. First, I don't think I have access to enough Christmas movies to make any solid attempt at a marathon. And besides, Jingle All the Way is clearly the pinnacle. Clearly.


  3. Good review M. It's a very beautiful-looking flick, but the story starts to fall apart a bit by the end and that was a huge disappointment. Probably the fourth or third movie in the past month that started off so strong, but just didn't know how to end.

    1. I was good with the ending! I actually loved the way it wrapped up. Thought it was inspiring, actually.

  4. I must say I'm really not looking forward to seeing this one, the films with such a rich visual side usually disappoint me because comparing to the look of them there is very little substance in the story. But I'll see it on DVD, since it's a likely Best Picture contender.

    1. I really think if you're even slightly interested in seeing this movie, you do it theatrically. I completely understand your point about the visual spectacle overshadowing the story, but I really don't think that's the case here.

      C'mon. You can stop studying/researching for two hours. It's December. Movie time. Happy time.

      Do it. Doooooo it.