Film Review- Life of Pi – Ang Lee

Life of Pi – Polaris Film Review

Robin Wijnhold

 

“This is a story that will make you believe in God,” protagonist Pi says in the beginning of Life of Pi directed by Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Hulk). The intention – a modern day spiritual epic – is immediately set, and although the spiritual side is a bit too much at times, an epic experience it sure is.

 

The story, based on Yann Martel’s international bestseller, was long deemed unfilmable and over the years many directors – including Jean-Pierre Jeunet – showed interest in the project but eventually did not dare to take the challenge.

 

The film opens in the ‘French Riviera of India’ Pondicherry, where Pi and his parents own a zoo. Beside for the occasional name-calling from his classmates (his full name is Piscine Militor after a French swimming pool, which sounds awfully lot like “pissing”), Pi lives a quiet life and shows a keen interests in all major religions. Luckily, the film’s spiritual pretention is largely kept at bay by its good sense of humour, for example when in a prayer Pi thanks Vishnu for introducing him to Jesus.

 

After a dispute with the local government, the family decides to move to Canada. They take all their belongings – including exotic animals – aboard a Japanese ship, and set sail.  A storm causes the ship to sink, leaving Pi and a tiger, named Richard Parker, as the only survivors, stuck on a lifeboat adrift at sea. This is where the movie really takes off.  

 

Though the visuals where already impressive before the shipwreck, now they take centre stage and do so with stunning beauty. Especially the poetic tranquillity of the scene where Pi hangs suspended underwater watching the ship sink is one to remember.   Magic realism come to screen. One breathtaking composition follows the other – from a mosaic of luminescent deep sea creatures to a carnivorous island filled with meerkats – Lee manages to use every inch – and more – of the empty canvas that the still ocean offers him.

 

Meanwhile a tense relationship between Pi and the tiger unfolds on the lifeboat. It’s man vs. Nature; not only do they need to survive the harsh conditions at sea – they also need to survive each other. It is praiseworthy that this part remains realistic, not only because of the masterful CGI, but also because Richard Parker remains a dangerous animal throughout. The story never descends down the ladder of Disney clichés where a dangerous animal suddenly becomes man’s best friend.

 

It is a shame that the acting of Suraj Sharma, who plays younger Pi, does not match the quality of the rest o f the film. It is decent, but not subtle enough to be truly convincing. Especially the part in which he cries in despair over his hopeless situation is not as powerful as the scene would have demanded it to be.

 

Also the original score by Mychael Danna does not match the overall quality of the film. It supports the story at best, but does not add anything extra. A special mention needs to be made to the often criticized 3D technology. It matches, if not surpasses, the use of 3D in James Cameron’s Avatar or Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. Without overdoing it or solely using it as a gimmick as so many movies do, Lee manages to employ its full potential, thereby adding a tiny bit of extra magic that a story like this deserves.

 

The story is told in flashbacks by an older Pi who tells it to ‘the Writer’ Yann Martel. These two alternating points of view are a clever piece of storytelling and ad a sense of realism to the movie. However, the scenes itself – older Pi and the Writer preparing food –feel superfluous at times and occasionally offer an interpretation to events where an interpretation was better left to the audience. Nevertheless, the questions they raise are bound to make you ponder for days after.

 

Life of Pi is likely going to be hailed a masterpiece by critics and the general public alike. Yet, though visually it certainly is stunning, the film is neither subtle nor balanced enough to be considered a true timeless masterpiece. Nonetheless, it is a landmark piece of cinema.  It won’t make you start believing in God (whichever one) but it will sure make you believe in the marvels of CGI technology and Lee’s undeniable visual story telling talent.

 

 

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Post-production for Doris and the Pennies from Heaven has started!

We are very happy to announce that, after three days of shoot at Deptford and Lambeth, Doris and the Pennies from Heaven is now in post-production.

We would like to take the chance to congratulate and thank all the cast and crew who participated in the shoot for their work and dedication.

Stay tuned for more updates coming!

Polaris Film Productions on the radio!

Tomorrow Polaris will be on OnFM Radio (101.4) program ‘What’s on’, with  David Michaels, from 2 to 3 pm.

We will speak about Polaris Film Productions and our upcoming projects, including our short film Doris and the Pennies from Heaven, starring Honor Blackman and Robert Goodman.

Remember to tune your radios to 101.4 tomorrow!

Polaris Team

Casting Call: Actors interested in Work Experience to appear as extras in our short

At Polaris Film Productions ltd we need several extras for our upcoming short film Doris and the Pennies from Heaven. If you are interested in getting work experience as an actor/actress, as well as participating in an exciting project, then this is your chance!

We are looking for 8 individuals, male between 32-70 and female between 25-70, with some previous acting experience to appear as extras in the short in exchange of a valuable work experience. The shoot will take place the 10th of June.

We believe this work experience would be very enriching for you and also would be important for your future career, as this short film has been selected by the Eastern Edge, part of the prestigious Film London.

Besides, the short will get a lot of exposure, due to its being screened at the BFI,  Cineworld and festivals. We have a superb cast, lead by Mrs. Honor Blackman and Robert Goodman. The production value is really high as we have talented professionals who will shoot with the best equipment in great locations.

For these reasons, we think this short will constitute a great piece of your showreel.

In case you are interested, you can apply till Friday the 1st of June by sending us an email at Polaris-Film-Productions@gmx.com with some information about you. We would also appreciate if you could send us a showreel or a picture of yourself.

The Polaris Team

P.S.: Not as an actor but still interested in participating in our film? You can help produce it visiting our crowd-funding campaign here, and you will get exclusive rewards for your help!

Meet the Crew: Gloria Peñaranda, Make-up Artist

We are very happy to have been recently joined by make-up artist Gloria Peñaranda for our short film Doris and the Pennies from Heaven. Gloria has been working as a make-up artist since 2002. Her vocation was awakened when she was studying Fine Arts at La Llotja d’Arts i Oficis, in Barcelona. She studied make-up at the prestigious Stick Art Studio in Barcelona.

After working in Barcelona, she then moved to London and continued her make-up artist career there. In her own words, she ‘has got to become a spontaneous, responsible, dynamic and very dedicated make-up artist’. She is a very talented and versatile artist and has experience in different fields such as cinema, TV, fashion shows, advertising, events and weddings.

If you want to see some of her fantastic work, visit her page here.

Auditions

Last Friday auditions for our short film Doris and the Pennies from Heaven were absolutely fantastic. We had the chance to meet 20 great and talented actors who delighted us with their amazing performances. It is going to be a tough decision! We would like to take the chance to deeply thank and congratulate them all for their work.

Besides, we have decided to send new invitations for a second round of auditions next week.

Thank you very much to all for your interest in our film.

P.S.: Not as an actor but still want to participate in our film? We have launched a crowd-funding campaign to help cover the shoot and post-production costs. If you want to contribute and get exclusive rewards for your help, then this is your chance! Visit it here.

Tomorrow we will contact the successful candidates of our casting call

We are now finishing to check all the applications we received for our casting call for our short film Doris and the Pennies from Heaven and tomorrow by 16:00 we will inform the successful candidates by email that they have been selected for the audition and provide them with the information of the audition times and place.

Unfortunately, due to the great number of applications we received (around 2000), we can only contact those candidates that have passed to the next stage of the selection process.

Thank you very much to all for your interest!

Polaris Team

Thank you all for your interest in our casting call!

Today at 21:00 is the deadline for the casting call we did on Casting Call Pro and the professional agency Spotlight to look for actors to appear in our upcoming short film Doris and the Pennies from Heaven, starring Honor Blackman and Robert Goodman.

We received an overwhelming number of submissions (about 2000) and we are checking each candidate’s profile thoroughly.  We would like to take the chance to say that we are very grateful for all the submissions we have been sent and offered by agencies.

Polaris Team

P.S.: Not as an actor but still interested in participating in our film? If you want to help produce our film and getting exclusive rewards for your contribution, visit our crowdfunding campaign here!

We have started editing Paco Ortega’s music videos

Yesterday, part of our team came back to London after spending four days in Spain shooting two music videos for famous Spanish music producer and composer Paco Ortega.

The shoot was great, both at the Musigrama Studios and on location in several streets of Madrid, and even the weather helped!

We have already started editing the footage and soon we will have ready the two music videos ‘A mi mare’ and ‘Apretaíto pero relajao’ from Paco’s new album ‘Baila por mi’.

Stay tuned for more news to come!

Besides, we are also working on our next project Doris and the Pennies from Heaven, starring Honor Blackman and Robert Goodman and in our crowdfunding campaign to help us cover the shoot and post-production costs, so don’t forget to visit and share!