Month: January, 2013

Some comments on Ang Lee’s Life of Pi

Whilst in sunny Gisborne last week Seema and I got out for an evening and saw Life of Pi. Now that it has sat with me for a week I can give a more measured response to Ang Lee’s film. Whilst the book captivated me with its fantastical reveals and appropriate levels of obscurity, Ang Lee has demonstrated, perhaps intentionally, that there are some integral elements of a book that cannot be fully translated to the screen. Both mediums are obviously different and their reception is often polarised. Reception and reaction is appropriated through the various mediums of consumption. Life of Pi is a literal translation and Ang Lee’s attempt to bring Yann Martel’s Life of Pi to the big screen has brought about a visual masterpiece that so beautifully captures the sensory nature of the book … it really is stunning. However, sensory and literal does not subjectively necessitate the same experience of the book. I couldn’t help feeling that the film laid all the book’s mysteries to bear, and then proceeded to answer them too explicitly. That the process the reader goes through, trying to understand what he/she has just read, is non-existent in this film version which is just too well explained leaving the viewer with little more than an exiting visual ride. But what a ride it was.  I still found this a highly entertaining and uplifting film in its own right. Book comparisons aside, I tip my hat too Lee for succeeding in all other areas.  See my rating here.

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Gisborne, Film noir, style, themes, and existentialism

As I laze in sunny Gisborne (pictured below, view from our deck, with my wonderful daughter in the foreground practicing her hula-hoop) here is an abstract from an essay I did last year on Film noir, style, themes, and existentialism. You can see it here. Ironically academic writing is a million miles away at the mo … ah the sun.

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Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake

Typically I’m not one to champion watching television. Most of the junk on the box I find annoyingly addictive and such a huge investment of time that could otherwise be spent watching a film. So as of late I have eliminated nearly all television watching, and I must say that I’m really enjoying the freedom. That’s not to say there isn’t any good television out there … there are always a few notable miniseries knocking around. But again, its a real investment in time that I’m weary of.  However, here’s one that I’m particular excited about. Written and directed by Jane Campion (who I think is an exceptional director), Top of the Lake is set in rural New Zealand and will star David Wenham, Mad Men’s Elizabeth Moss, and Holly Hunter. Premieres in the U.S. in March so hopefully N.Z. will have it soon after. Looks like I have my TV watching sorted for autumn already! You can read more about the mini series here.

Top of the Lake

Top of the Lake

Looper

Rian Johnson’s ambitious, yet confidently handled, sci-fi neo-noir thriller is set in a dystopian near future where mob targets are sent back in time to be “removed” by a hitman (or Looper). Time travel is always a dubious topic in cinema and is often fraught with plot holes, however, Johnson does a fine job in avoiding such pitfalls. Unfortunately in doing so he leaves us with a rather mixed bag of procedural film making laced with some fairly clever ideas. I struggled to know what to make of Looper as it pulled me in different directions. Its flawed protagonist motif ultimately did not strike a chord with me and I was left curiously dissatisfied. 

See my star rating here.

Looper

The Hobbit

There is something to be said for low expectations. Indeed, it is somewhat ironic that my low expectations were put on an unexpected journey. Peter Jackson’s first installment of the Hobbit trilogy is a thoroughly entertaining film that transparently retells Tolkein’s beloved childrens book. Its pace ebbed and flowed and appropriately let me surface for air when required. But most importantly, it took its time … time to be loyal to the book and thoroughly explore all its intricate details. The result was a film that did not leave me short-changed and authentically retold the book under no false pretences. The near three hours flew by, (even my kids sat transfixed to the screen to the bitter end), not a common feature of seasonal block busters. By no means as ground breaking as Lord of the Rings, yet I found An Unexpected Journey more entertaining. The end result is the outright adventure I was hoping for … but not expecting. See my star rating here.

hobbit