Western Michigan University closes to classes at noon on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Since my two classes are at Noon and 1pm, (1) I gave both classes Exam 3 on Tuesday and (2) had today off. Mrs. Dr. Phil had a meeting at 10am, but was planning to take the rest of the day off. She almost didn't have that much at work -- Wednesday dawned with thick fog in West Michigan and we could barely see the end of the back porch, let alone drive through the countryside. (grin)
Our plan was to catch up with some of the new and recent movies -- and I hoped to get a review online, because as I mentioned in my last post, I am way behind in posting to LJ and Dreamwidth.
Life of Pi 3D [PG]
Holland 7 Theatre 1, 4:35pm, 2×$8.25
What a beautiful movie. Ang Lee has done it again -- come up with something extraordinary and unexpected. We saw Life of Pi in 3D, because I'd seen trailers for it in 3D and was blown away with the brightness, color, sharpness and extreme clarity of the 3D. I know many people who hate seeing 3D movies. You might want to give this a chance, it's that well done.
Like Cloud Atlas, another movie review I've got to get up, we hadn't read the book. Unlike Cloud Atlas, we'd heard of Life of Pi when it came out in 2001. But no one mentioned shipwrecks or tigers. They made it sound like it was a coming of age story set in India. Potentially interesting, but no one I knew had read it.
NPR has been talking about supposedly unfilmable novels this week, including Life of Pi and Cloud Atlas. They emphasized that at no time was our main actor ever on an open set with the tiger. You'd never know that from seeing this film. Or guessing which tigers are real and which are CG. Life of Pi has been compared to Avatar as a game changer film and I have to say that the money invested in this movie was lovingly spent. Whether it does well at the box office, that's hard to say. Our 4:35pm show was the first 3D showing at the Holland 7, and there were six of us in total. But then the theatre wasn't flooded with Twilight fans either as it had been on Saturday when we saw Skyfall -- yet another review to come...
Young Pi, teenage Pi and adult Pi are all engaging characters. There is not a dull moment in the movie and there are times of intense excitement and grave danger. The animals, especially the tiger, are amazing. But the cinematography. Oh my! Roiling angry storm seas are one thing. It's the mirror glass smooth calm waters, like the world's largest infinity pool, which are so extraordinary and let you know how very alone and lost Pi and his tiger on in their lifeboat.
Even the opening credits deserve mention -- they are gorgeous views of the animals in the zoo and the actual credits are playfully added. The closing credits in 3D are not just static scrolling lists.
And on top of all that, there's the story...
So What The Hell Just Happened? (SPOILER ALERT)
When The Usual Suspects came out on VHS, I told a friend of mine who hadn't seen it in the theatre to go out immediately and rent it. I then told him that when he was done seeing it, I knew that he'd rewind it and watch it over again to figure out what happened. And when he was done with the second viewing, he'd realize that it didn't matter -- we'd never know what really happened.
Life of Pi is like that.
There are two stories here, one which takes up the bulk of the film and another version. Listening to that second story, you have to confront the issue of which, if either, story is true. And does it really matter? (grin)
Trailers: Epic looks to be a really interesting animated movie, a sort of mashup of Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Narnia and Alice in Wonderland. Oz: The Great and Powerful -- When I first heard about this movie, frankly I wasn't too impressed. The Wizard of Oz is such an iconic movie, that even though I know there are a whole slew of Oz books, seeing a new Oz movie seems like sacrilege. But, it looks good. And oh my, are there flying monkeys! What I hadn't heard before, but my friend Al Bogdan mentioned on Facebook, was that Oz was filmed here in Michigan, in a new studio in Pontiac. The trailers for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey are getting longer. Smurfs 2... sigh.