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In Canada, a writer visits the Indian storyteller Pi Patel and asks him to tell his life story. Pi tells the story of his childhood in Pondicherry, India, and the origin of his nickname. One day, his father, a zoo owner, explains that the municipality is no longer supporting the zoo and he has hence decided to move to Canada, where the animals the family owns would also be sold. They board on a Japanese cargo ship with the animals and out of the blue, there is a storm, followed by a shipwrecking. Pi survives in a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a male Bengal tiger nicknamed Richard Parker. They are adrift in the Pacific Ocean, with aggressive hyena and Rickard Parker getting hungry. Pi needs to find a way to survive. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When Pi's father teaches him a lesson about tigers, The goat is tied to the outside of Richard Parker's cage. In the following scene, Richard Parker is dragging "his prey", apparently having pulled the entire goat through the cage's bars. The goat was far too large to be pulled through the bars. See more »
So, you were raised in a zoo?
Adult Pi Patel:
Born and raised. In Pondicherry, in what was the French part of India. My father owned the zoo, and I was delivered on short notice by a herpetologist, who was there to check on the Bengal monitor lizard. Mother and I were both healthy, but the poor lizard escaped and was trampled by a frightened cassowary. The way of karma, huh? The way of God.
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Life of Pi is a visual spectacle, Irrfan Kahn's best
There are a lot of positive and admirable things about Ang Lee's latest Life of Pi. Cinematographer Claudio Miranda captures the most uproarious and glorious shots captured this year thus far. The 3D effects are some of the best ever seen and feels absolutely necessary in a film so heavy handed with religious tones. What Mychael Danna achieves in Lee's film has just placed him in the forefront of great film composers working today. He continues to impress with his musical range, envelopes the film's message and thematic narrative in somber and beautiful melodic notes. On Visual Effects alone, Life of Pi will likely land a nomination for Best Picture. What Lee invents with the ocean and the integration of the tiger and the other animals is spectacular. He allows the mood of the film and the imagery to marry each other in a ceremonial experience that stands next to Sci-Fi epics like Avatar (2009) and Hugo (2011).
Newcomer Suraj Sharma puts a valiant effort in the role of "Pi," a performance that may land him more critical and impressive roles in the future. The work is reminiscent of great breakthrough performers like Rudy Youngblood (Apocalypto, 2006) and Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, 2008); both were impressive turns but sadly will not catch any awards attention. Irrfan Kahn, who has delivered in great supporting turns like The Namesake (2006) and A Mighty Heart (2007), could have his best chance ever for serious awards attention. His hurdle will be a minimal screen presence and a supporting actor race that's crowded with "movie stars."
Lee directs the film with a firm hand. He knows what he wants to say and for the most part gets his message across. Unfortunately an unfocused and at times jumbled screenplay by the great David Magee creates an atmosphere that relies more on the visuals then the narrative. Also, I'm unfamiliar with the book by Yann Martel, never read it before, so I have nothing to compare it to but much of the story's elements of surprise feel rather cheap and ill-fitting. Not sure how it will play with others but the film remains pretty consistent on the entertainment sector.
Lee explains his preparation for the film at the New York Film Festival with such passion and delight. He speaks about getting Sharma properly prepared by placing him on a boat in the middle of the ocean and meeting a real life shipwreck survivor; Lee's love for the project comes through, all four years in the making. It's a directorial achievement that the Director's branch of the Academy could easily get behind.
The film lands solidly on the front door of awards season with ease and could rally a loyal legion of followers. Look out for the National Board of Review to kick it off I can almost put money on it.
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