/ Life of Pi

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Gordon Stainforth - on 29 Jan 2013
OK, perhaps a bit behind the times, but I only saw it tonight, and see that a previous 'Life of Pi' thread has now been archived. So thought it might be worth starting again.

Anyway, it gets the big thumbs up from me. As Wonko the Sane put it in the previous thread: "... it is pretty faithful to the book. Cinematography is VERY good with a few very minor exceptions in a few of the life boat scenes. But the CGI is seamless.... possibly because you're abosrbed in the story. Possibly because it's the emaciated tiger that gets the most CGI shots.... Some people say it's too overtly religious. I see it more as a window into the mind of someone who looks at the world differently.'

I'd say '... someone who sees the world imaginatively, working at different levels. Which is summed up perfectly by the deliberately ambiguous ending.'

Beyond all that, it's a very, very beautiful movie that has a lot to say about our relationship with the natural world, and how we treat so-perceived 'lesser species'. Cinematically and technically, it's really fantastic. Here CGI is used for no other purpose but to recreate the fantastical novel as well as possible. Recently I saw The Hobbit and I was awestruck with admiration for its CGI alone and its sheer visual imagination, but there the CGI plays no other purpose but to tell a story of utter, meaningless tosh (with a lovely central character as about its only redeeming story feature.) In Life of Pi the seamless, mostly invisible CGI is used to tell a much more interesting and thought-provoking tale. In a strange way it has several things in common with 2001. It feels very different from most movies, and takes you into its own, other world; its story is very simple, with broad, abstract themes; it leaves you 'thinking big' about some of the more interesting fundamental mysteries of life and man's relationship with nature.

Anyhow, in agreement with Wonko, I'd say 'Go see it' if you're a fan of the book. Well, really, it's more than that, it's a must-see movie because it is a step forward in movie art.
Blue Straggler - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

In what way is it "a step forward in movie art"? I haven't seen it. I have seen films with what you would call "mostly invisible CGI ... used to tell a much more interesting and thought-provoking tale" and I have seen " very, very beautiful movie[s] that [have] a lot to say about our relationship with the natural world, and how we treat so-perceived 'lesser species'". Maybe I have not yet seen the former allied to the latter though. Is that the "step forward"?

And can you try to make just one post that doesn't reference Stanley Kubrick and/or a specific film of his and/or your own experience in the film industry? Just one? Please! :-)
Gordon Stainforth - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Oops, sorry about SK. Perhaps I'm just a little bit too keen about movie making. And in this modern world the sneer often takes people further than enthusiasm ... oh, well ... but only for a while, I think ...

To get back to your main question. What a film like Life of Pi (or The Hobbit) amounts to is an utterly invisible new kind of animation, that doesn't look like animation at all. I would say that The Hobbit is the very first movie I've seen that crosses that line completely (the earlier Lord of the Rings movies look like prototypes by comparison). Before that, it was CGI 'writ large', mostly pretty successful, but very tacky and phoney at the edges. Now, at last, the technology has dropped away, and we come back to the good old business of storytelling in which the craft doesn't show. In which the movie magic is so seamless that we can't really even guess how the conjurer has done it. Because movies have always been a kind of magic.

(PS. In case you haven't realised, I'm quite a light-hearted and humorous kind of guy, so could I in turn make a plea that you don't always sound so bad-tempered and self-righteous in every single post you make? You speak always as if from some great height, which can be quite galling to those who've had quite a lot of experience at the coal face.)

wilkie14c - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
I read an article a few weeks back in the Metro about a guy whos sail boat went down of the coast of Spain IIRC and he just had time to throw a few bits and bobs <inc a solar power desalinater> into a rubber dingy. He had 70 odd days alone at sea and experienced some very deep and meaningful emotions about life and mortality. At first he saw no sign of life in the ocean at all but after a week or so his dingy took on a mini island enviroment with barnicles growning on the underside which in turn attacted fish, then bigger fish to eat the smaller fish etc etc. He experienced whales, dorados etc and was at least able to feed himself. He was asked to be a technical advisor for the Life of Pi movie and even though much of it is CGI the actual storyline line has attempted to represent reality of the ocean. It looks great but sayly Mrs Blanchie doesn't fancy it at all so it'll be one for DVD for myself.
<dingy man was eventually picked up close to the carribian in the end>
Jonny2vests - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Yep, beautiful film. A proper 'spectacle', just like 2001.
The Pylon King on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to blanchie14c:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
> It looks great but sayly Mrs Blanchie doesn't fancy it at all so it'll be one for DVD for myself.

....of course you could always consider going on your own.
Gordon Stainforth - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to jonny2vests:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
>
> Yep, beautiful film. A proper 'spectacle', just like 2001.

Ah, good. You see my point (which wasn't about the directors as such, but about the movies).

wilkie14c - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Mr Mark Stephen Davies:
I used to do just that quite regulary when single but these days my time is so full up of stuff I can't justify the time <my 'me' time at this time of year is banked up for winter climbing trips> I'd rather go and see something we both want to see then its quality time together and all that.
I'm a new man these days you know ;-)
The Pylon King on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to blanchie14c:

Yes i know what you mean.
Dave Garnett - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I saw it on Friday, almost by accident (needed to kill a few hours, hadn't read the book, didn't fancy anything else that was showing). I agree with you. I thought the cinematography was wonderful and the CGI and 3D very convincing (I'd heard a few people complaining about it but they must have seen a different movie). But the story was also unusually intriguing and deep. The cinema was full, including lots of children, and judging from some of the comments much of the audience was baffled, but maybe in a useful way.

The philosophy and religion was intrinsic to the story but it wasn't didactic (indeed, I took from it that religion was a palatable story to explain a sometimes terrifying universe but if it gets you through, what's wrong with that?). I did wonder whether the book spelled out the correlations between the parallel stories quite as clearly as the Canadian author explains it at the end of the film, but maybe that was justified in context.

So yes, I really enjoyed it and I shall read the book.
Blue Straggler - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler)
> could I in turn make a plea that you don't always sound so bad-tempered and self-righteous in every single post you make? You speak always as if from some great height, which can be quite galling to those who've had quite a lot of experience at the coal face.


All my posts are light-hearted!

Gordon Stainforth - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:

You're right - the film made the correlations of the two stories, and the religious aspects, a little more explicit. But I think it was necessary for the movie, or it would have been just too abstract, I think. The book and the film are equally good in their different ways.
Edradour - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I was a big fan of the book but I wasn't bowled over by the film.

I don't know why it had the parts in Pi's modern day home, for me they added nothing.

The CGI was good but I think some of the posts on here are tending towards hyperbole - it certainly didn't change the world. I went with my brother (who hadn't read the book) and he thought it was boring.
Gordon Stainforth - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Edradour:

It's some time since I read the book, but I thought the story was bracketed with the present day in just the same was as the film ? Anyhow, I can't discuss further now, because accounts are pressing ... there must surely be others in the same boat with Jan 31 looming ?
Hirosim - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
Good book
Good film
Edradour - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> (In reply to Edradour)
>
> It's some time since I read the book, but I thought the story was bracketed with the present day in just the same was as the film ?

I think you're right (also some time since I read the book) but they didn't have to recreate that in the film and I think the film was poorer for doing so.

Jonny2vests - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> (In reply to Edradour)
>
> It's some time since I read the book, but I thought the story was bracketed with the present day in just the same was as the film ? Anyhow, I can't discuss further now, because accounts are pressing ... there must surely be others in the same boat with Jan 31 looming ?

All done and dusted
aln - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: I thought the book was over rated and only really enjoed about a third of it. Wouls there be any point in seeing the film for "the spectacle"?
rockcat - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: Cinematically splendid and a triumph but flawed being rather silly (a floating mangrove island inhabited by thousands of meercats? - please!) It also had some serious continuity issues
aln - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to blanchie14c:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
>He had 70 odd days alone at sea <dingy man

You'd definitely be dingy after 70 days at sea in a wee boat.
Gordon Stainforth - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to aln:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth) I thought the book was over rated and only really enjoed about a third of it. Wouls there be any point in seeing the film for "the spectacle"?

Yes - if you're interested in nature at its most beautiful and sometimes savage (i.e. are interested in animals, the sea etc), plus the extraordinary film craft involved. The tiger always looks 100 per cent real - the CGI was apparently based on a real tiger in a zoo and never went anywhere near the boat. Nice score too. Obviously not everyone's cup of tea, but it's refreshingly different. If you didn't think much of the book, you may not like the film. I thought the writing in the book was superb ... in fact, it's the only book I've ever read out loud from beginning to end. I raved about it to Freda, and so she said, 'OK, read it to me!' So I did. It took about three or four nights/evenings.

Gordon Stainforth - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to rockcat:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth) Cinematically splendid and a triumph but flawed being rather silly (a floating mangrove island inhabited by thousands of meercats? - please!) It also had some serious continuity issues

That's in the book, exactly like that. It's meant to be a dreamlike/imagined place: in fact the whole story is about the imagination. I.e. just how much of it, if any, is true. Of course, Pi's being adrift at sea for so long means that hallucination is a perfectly plausible explanation. All the greatest films for me are on that edge between dream and reality, and this is one of them.
John2 - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: 'the deliberately ambiguous ending'

Great film, but there's nothing ambiguous about the ending. The narrator confirms that the Japanese insurance agents were correct in their view of the matter, and that the bulk of the film was no more or less than a fantastic story.
Christheclimber - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I agree I thought it was really good but then I don't get out much...
wilkie14c - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
Managed to see it last night, wonderful movie and enjoyed every minute of it
Stone Idol - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: Guess I am one of the few that found the artwork fabulous, the story dreary in the extreme and the film a bore.
Gordon Stainforth - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Stone Idol:

No accounting for taste :)) I also saw Les Mis a couple of nights ago and absolutely loved it - and I know a lot of people don't. Another straight 5-star movie for me.
Dave Garnett - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to John2:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth) 'the deliberately ambiguous ending'
>
> Great film, but there's nothing ambiguous about the ending. The narrator confirms that the Japanese insurance agents were correct in their view of the matter, and that the bulk of the film was no more or less than a fantastic story.

My recollection is that he tells them a different story because they don't believe the first one. But then they don't really believe the second one either. The first was unacceptably fantastic, the second was unacceptably horrific. What they actually report back is more acceptable - but no more true.
Gordon Stainforth - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:

I think the closing lines of the film are something like 'Which story do you prefer? (Take your pick.)'
John2 - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: Sure, he means would you rather hear the prosaic truth or the fabulous story that I elaborated to pass the time?
wilkie14c - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to John2:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth) Sure, he means would you rather hear the prosaic truth or the fabulous story that my subconscious invented and tricked me into believing in order to cope with the horror of what happened out there?

corrected that for you ;-)
Stone Idol - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: Ha, well. I suffered through Les Mis as well courtesy of the lovely Mrs Idle. Could not even go to sleep as the seats numbed the bum and the occasional top C ruined the sleep moment.

On the other hand, Django and Zero Dark 30 - awesome despite the odd touch of Quentin - gore.

Incidentally - what is the attraction of a show/film entitled The Miserables - in French?
Gordon Stainforth - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Stone Idol:

You might just as well ask, what is the attraction of a film entitled 'Inglourious Basterds' - spelled thus?

For me, the fact that Les Mis had a French origin was one of its attractions, in that it was likely to be somewhat different from standard Anglo-Saxon fare, possibly with a certain Gallic flair. I'll have to confess that I've never read the novel, nor seen the musical; but the novel is hailed as one of the greatest in the French language, and the musical has been one of the most successful and popular in history, certainly in the West End of London. So those were two other very compelling reasons for seeing it. Plus two or three rave reviews I read about it, one saying it had 'reinvented the film musical'.
Fraser on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I found 'Life of Pi' pretty dire I'm afraid. Deadly slow. The plot was potentially strong (not read the book but I'm assuming it was reasonably faithful) but the delivery, despite the visual richness, was very poor in my opinion. 4/10 from me

'Les Mis', on the other hand, really surprised me - I found it riveting and hugely impressive. I'm not a great fan of musicals in general, but this one blew me away. Such a fantastic story and the music was great too. 9/10 for this one.

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