Monday, December 24, 2012

Life of Pi

2012 is nearing an end... so here's to completing my delayed blog post: A review on The Life of Pi.
I had two main reasons to watch this movie -
1) Ang Lee (Taiwanese pride)
2) The trailer had me gobsmacked
- and henceforth read the book as a preemptive move. As I pointed out in a previous post (but to be perfectly honest, I can't recall if I even bothered to post about it), the book wasn't fabulous, although the fluid storytelling technique was commendation-worthy.
The movie, however, was a different story entirely - I viewed it twice, and left both times with one altered impression, and another that remained unchanged on both occasions.
During my first viewing, I found the movie unappealing, but the second time round, I developed a liking for it, as well as a confirmed appreciation of the absolutely stunning effects and detailed cinematography under the baton of maestro ANG LEE!

This movie is a solid visual phenomena. "The Next Avatar". Well, I can tell you that Life of Pi was way more lovelier than Avatar! Lee filmed it with such intricate delicacy - not a single frame or crop is out of place. Each shot is poised exactly as it is meant to be filmed. We don't see anything unnecessary - everything captured is perfectly in place... I don't know how much further I can stress this.
Watching this in the cinemas, you catch your breath as you see yourself looking at a huge screen that is absolutely dominated in the gold, reflective light of a lonely sea at morning, or a single boat hovering on a dark sea that is dotted with the reflection of a million stars at night, balanced so that the sea and the sky become one, and their separation is invisible... The complementary colours created by the orange boat floating on a blue sea... young Pi, in a blue shirt, entering the chapel via a blue door (the colours match SO WELL), the orangutan floating to the boat on a pile of bananas...The text-magic of the opening sequence...Or the sight of an island swarmed in meerkats, an island that turns a luminescent green at night... a raging sea that sweeps in great armfuls of waves, crashing down with the fury of a thunderstorm...

Lee also did a wonderful job in expressing the Indian culture, via the dancing (the colours were beautiful here too), eating style, mythical story (which is later re-visited by Pi when he peers down into the ocean and sees everything - I can't even begin to express how genius this was). 

However, what is most discussed about this movie is that the CGI was spectacular. One does not watch and instantly recognize the 'green screen.' The tiger's puppy-like eyes, tenderly staring up at Pi... the growl of the tiger when it devours the hyena... Richard Parker is brilliant. He is, in the movie, as much of the star as he was in the book. He was the reason for Pi's survival, after all.
The last scene of the movie is utterly heartbreaking, and the fact that Lee chose to end it that way was.. genius. It is, after all, the one theme of the story - that we never take a chance to properly say goodbye, and that life is an act of letting go... the tiger disappearing into the woods was letting go.
"This is a story to make you believe in God," Pi said. Whether this stands true or not, the movie is breathtaking and beautiful. The cinematography is beyond imagination... this colours and scope of scenes in this film make it an artwork (probably one of the most incredible examples of movie-magic I've ever seen in my life, to think about it). I'm so proud of Ang Lee. This movie will sweep at the Oscars.
On a side note, I'm so thrilled to be watching 3 beautiful movies in a row (This, the Hobbit, and tomorrow - LES MIS).

little tree

by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)
little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower
who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid
look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy
then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud
and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"

spangles that sleep, little arms, dressed... Cumming's poem is delicate and representative of the glowing childhood loveliness of Christmas!