Life of Pi

singing ringing tree

After all the thrill and adventure of The Desolation of Smaug, you’re going to wish there was more to watch. Well, there is, only it’s not necessarily more of The Desolation of Smaug (not until the extended editions on video, anyway). Instead, it’s other movies that I’ve selected as necessary viewing for those who’ve seen the new Hobbit movie. It doesn’t matter if you liked Smaug or not, because many of these titles are preferred predecessors and alternatives, anyway. Others consist of early movies starring prominent members of the cast or just movies that I was personally reminded of and have now made the excuse to share. From the very well known to the very obscure, the long and the short, there’s bound to be at least one title here for you to enjoy in however much time you have leftover following another lengthy trip to Middle-earth with Peter Jackson. This weekend’s list includes 13 titles, one for each of the 13 dwarves in the movie — though not every selection is necessarily tied to a dwarf. That was just my idea of being clever, plus the fact that such a long movie with a lot going on naturally got me thinking of more movies than usual. Check out my recommendations below and share any others you believe are relevant to mention. There are plot SPOILERS for Smaug after the jump, of course, since many of these picks are relevant to various parts of the movie.

read more...

discs this must be the place

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! Sure it’s a few days late, but it’s still technically the same week… As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. This Must Be the Place Cheyenne (Sean Penn) was a rock star many years ago, but these days he lives a quiet life in a big house with a wife (Frances McDormand), two dogs and an empty swimming pool. He’s a bit slow in his mobility and speech, and his appearance is still modeled on The Cure’s Robert Smith. When his father falls ill Cheyenne heads to NYC to reconcile with the old man, but instead he finds himself on a quest for revenge against a Nazi. Obviously. Paolo Sorrentino‘s film is more than a little odd. Between Penn’s performance and the script’s insistence on couching a traditional narrative in strange, character-filled trappings it’s guaranteed to turn off many viewers, and I really wouldn’t blame them walking away. But I found the story’s take on the need for (and power of) forgiveness a compelling reason to watch, and Penn’s performance may have taken a bit to grow on me but it eventually added to the film’s charm. It’s damn funny at times and lands an emotionally satisfying ending too, but be warned… most of you will apparently hate it. It’s the new I Melt With You in that regard. [Blu-ray extras: None]

read more...

Life of Pi Without VFX

Several companies at the top of their game have now gone bankrupt, hundreds protested outside the Oscars, the Jaws theme added insult to injury, and it all adds up to the VFX industry being in trouble. But how can something so central to modern filmmaking be struggling to stay alive? If blockbusters earn billions on the back of stunning CGI wizardry, why are the best in the business failing? Industry veteran Jim Hillin joins us to explain it all in simple terms and to offer a few solutions in the face of a complex, dire situation. Plus, Geoff and I share a few big visual effects moments that changed movies by delivering real magic. For more from us on a daily basis, follow the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on the Twitter. And, as always, we welcome your feedback. Download Episode #9 Subscribe Through iTunes

read more...

Ang Lee Oscar

Coming off of his second Oscar win for Best Director, Ang Lee is as fierce a filmmaking force as ever. But even if his name comes with a sheen of prestige, it doesn’t change a broad range of topics and tones that he’s been able to capture on screen. This is the man who made the Civil War-era Ride with the Devil and contemporary dramedy Eat Drink Man Woman. Not to mention Brokeback Mountain right after Hulk. The man’s versatile. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the Crouching Tiger From Taiwan.

read more...

Life of Pi Tank

Dear Mr. Lee, When asked about the bankruptcy of Rhythm + Hues, the visual effects house largely responsible for making your film Life of Pi as incredible as it was, you said: “I would like it to be cheaper and not a tough business [for VFX vendors]. It’s easy for me to say, but it’s very tough. It’s very hard for them to make money. The research and development is so expensive; that is a big burden for every house. They all have good times and hard times, and in the tough times, some may not [survive].” I just want to point out that while, yes R&D can be expensive and yes it takes a lot of technology and computing power to create films like yours, it is not computer chips and hard drives that are costing you so very much money. It is the artists that are helping you create your film.

read more...

Best Picture

Here it is: the Big Kahuna of the Oscar season. Bestowed upon the producers, the Best Picture award is easily the most memorable category of the Big Six. It often coincides with a Best Director win, but with almost twice the nominations than Best Director and some high-profile snubs, there’s always a chance for an upset. Best Picture is also one of the most divisive categories out there. To target a specific talent or role, it’s easy to zero in on one element of a film. A medicore film can have fantastic, Oscar-worthy cinematography. A film that has no shot at comprehensive awards can offer a scene-stealing performance for a Best Supporting Actor or Actress win. But Best Picture? That’s as comprehensive as it gets. Since the nominations have been made and all the complaints about why certain movies weren’t on the list (like the awards-forgotten Moonrise Kingdom) have been logged, it’s now time to focus on the nine films that made the cut. While the statuette is handed to the producer of the film, it’s an honor that everyone involved in the production can enjoy. Such a picture will either become a minor all-but-forgotten footnote in Oscar history (like The Last Emperor or last year’s The Artist), or it will become a well-known winner of cinematic legend (like The Godfather or Titanic). It will also serve as great marketing copy for any future DVD or Blu-ray release from now until the end of time. Read on for the nominations […]

read more...

Best Film Editing

Just yesterday, word spread about a new iPad app that will offer professionals and hobbyists alike around 90% of the tools that an editor would use on a blockbuster movie. It’s an exciting technological development to be sure, but simply having access to a kitchen doesn’t make us all chefs. Francis Ford Coppola talked about editing in mythical terms,  calling it the “essence of cinema” and the “alchemy” that brought everything together. In other words, editing is the magic of movie magic. Because of that, there’s historically been a clear correlation between the flick that wins Best Picture and the one that wins for Best Editing. Namely, about 2/3rds of all Best Picture winners also snag the editing statue. Although the past two years haven’t seen that trend fulfilled — with wins from The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo editors Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter — there’s a solid chance that Best Picture and Best Editing may be reunited on Sunday. To become a nominee, work must first pass through the professional gauntlet of the Editing Branch of AMPAS where a few hundred experts nominate their favorites. The 5 with the most votes make it to general voting where any AMPAS member can make their voice heard. Here are this year’s contenders with my prediction in red:

read more...

Best Visual Effects

Best Visual Effects. Over the years, this award has been called a number of things. In 1928, it was given as the award for Best Engineering Effects to the World War I flying drama Wings. It has evolved in the years since, recognizing in equal measure effects that are practical and digital, but most of all that live on the line in-between reality and surreality on the silver screen. It’s the only award category to consistently recognize those pioneers of film who have dazzled audiences with the yet unseen, everything from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey to George Lucas’ Star Wars. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. The core criteria for the award is that it’s given to the visual effects masters whose work most exemplifies artistry, skill and fidelity with which the visual illusions are achieved. Each of this year’s nominees has these elements. And each of this year’s nominees brings something unique to the table. We’ve got the year’s highest grossing, all-out superhero explosion; the return of Peter Jackson and his WETA wizards to Middle Earth; Ridley Scott’s return to the sci-fi genre; a classic tale with a digitally saturated twist; and of course, one arty epic that is as colorful a film as was printed on celluloid (or imprinted in ones-and-zeroes) this year. Still, it might be one of the most predictable categories that Oscar has to offer in his 85th edition. The nominees are below, with our pick for winner marked with red…

read more...

Best Cinematography

Cinematography, like many technical awards, is an incredibly difficult art form requiring years of experience, an encyclopedic knowledge of light and color, and an impossible ability to adapt to an industry whose technologies of capturing moving images are always changing. But that doesn’t mean someone as inexperienced as the Academy voters or myself shouldn’t be allowed to judge all that hard work! This year’s cinematography category is surprisingly controversial. Mihai Mălaimare, Jr’s work on The Master, once thought a shoo-in for this category, wasn’t even nominated, nor were other visually enthralling films, like Darius Wolski’s work on Promtheus. That said, the films that were ultimately nominated no doubt contain some expert cinematography (because I would know), but, as the political nature of these things always indicates, the question of “best” is highly suspect. Here’s how the nominees size up, with my prediction for the winner in red…

read more...

Best Production Design

It’s got a new name! Best Art Direction is now Best Production Design, in keeping with the equivalent change of the Academy branch. Of course, the name change doesn’t have any practical impact on the content of the category or its predictability, but it is cool nonetheless. This year’s crop is an interesting bunch. Three of the five nominees are also up for Best Picture, though the category doesn’t align with the top often enough to make it a no-brainer. There are three period films and two fantasy films, in keeping with the Academy’s reluctance to award contemporary design. And it goes without saying that most of the nominated films are visually stunning. Check out the nominees for Best Production Design with my prediction in red:

read more...

Best Adapted Screenplay

The art of adaptation is a tricky one. Taking someone else’s material, made for an entirely different medium, and reworking it to fit in the confines of a feature film is much like attempting to fit a square peg into a hexagonal hole. The elements aren’t designed to work together. It’s even trickier to take that same material and make it into a good movie, where the integrity of the original remains in tact but the quality of its adaptation still retains a palpable uniqueness. The best adaptations, then, are hardly transcriptions, but deliberate acts of taking a work that exists elsewhere and making it speak to the possibilities of cinematic storytelling. This year’s nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay run the gamut of possibilities for different types of adaptation. The category includes the history of our most celebrated president to the true story of a little-known CIA operation to adaptations of celebrated novels to an independent adaptation of an obscure stage play. Oh, and whoever wins on the big night will be a first-time winner. That’s pretty cool. Here are how the nominees size up, with my prediction for the winner in red…

read more...

Best Original Score

Film scores can be considered a dime a dozen – a bunch of orchestration that certainly needs to be there, but plays to the background and is rarely ever noticeable. And while that can be true, the last few years have introduced new composers and new ways of creating music into the world of film composing, electrifying and shaking up the “boring ol’ orchestration” into something undeniably new and exciting. And attention should be paid. The nominees in the Best Original Score category this year may not be new to the game or beat on the side of a car for a new look at percussion, but these scores come from a variety of films that needed very specific tones to be conveyed through their respective sounds. From the scandalous period piece Anna Karenina to the visually stunning journey of Life of Pi to a new adventure with a well-known secret agent in Skyfall to two historic films from two very different time periods, each attempting to overcome adversity with Argo and Lincoln. While most of the nominees have been up to bat in this category before, there is a newcomer among their ranks and it may be this fresh voice that bests them all (my prediction of his win noted in red.) Read on as we take a closer look this year’s five Best Original Score nominees and see who may end up being the best of the best come Oscar night…

read more...

Best Original Song

Last year’s Best Original Song category had a dismal two (TWO!) nominations in a year that gave us such songs as the catchy “Hello Hello” from the piano man himself, Elton John (who has seen no love from the Academy since The Lion King in 1994) from Gnomeo and Juliet, a brand new (and beautifully haunting) song from The National, “Think You Can Wait,” from Win Win, and eleven new songs (any of which could have/should have been a contender) from Sigur Rós front-man Jónsi from We Bought a Zoo. Luckily this year the Academy decided on a much more respectable number of songs (five of them!) pulled from a variety of film genres including a documentary (Chasing Ice), comedy (Ted), musical (Les Misérables), action (Skyfall), and adventure (Life of Pi) performed by a range of singers, including chart topping artists and even one actress. An increased number of songs may be getting their moment in the spotlight this year, but only one will be left standing at the end of the big night. Read on as we turn up the volume on each of the nominees along with my prediction of the winner in red…

read more...

Life of Pi

What does Best Picture say about who we are? On the one hand, nothing. It’s very easy to write the whole thing off as Hollywood congratulating itself, the height of cultural irrelevance. Plenty of critics write anti-Academy pieces every year, highlighting the limited scope of the nominees and the out-of-touch reputation of the voting membership. They aren’t necessarily wrong. Yet the Oscars are part of a larger picture of American cinema and society, and they reflect it. It’s been said that the raucous comedy Tom Jones was just what we needed at the Oscars in early 1964, only a few months after John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The Best Picture battle between Coming Home and The Deer Hunter was emblematic of the troubled legacy of the Vietnam War, which had come to an end only four years before. In recent years, the success of Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech and The Artist seems to hint at globalization and the importance of the international market. (A victory for Life of Pi would continue that trend.) So, what do we do with this year? If Lincoln wins, there will no doubt be plenty of writing around the connections between Honest Abe and President Obama. More than that, however, Steven Spielberg’s film is a work of profound faith in America and its institutions. In that respect it opens a dialog with the other films nominated for Best Picture, and gives us some insight into Oscar’s mood going into 2013.

read more...

ted_02037204

Once upon a time, the Oscar nominations were filled with titles unfamiliar to the regular Joe. Not unknown, necessarily, but at least not widely seen. But today, thanks to all kinds of home video platforms and theatrical distribution for even the short film nominees, it’s not always so impossible to see everything before the big night. To help those of you wishing to be completists, I’ve listed all of this year’s recently announced Oscar nominees and noted how and where you can see them, whether presently or soon enough. It may not be entirely doable, as some foreign films haven’t officially been released here, including one that doesn’t even yet have a date, and some titles are in the middle of their theatrical to DVD window. But there are a bunch that can be streamed right this moment on your computer via Amazon, Google, YouTube and other outlets, each of which I’ve marked accordingly courtesy of GoWatchIt. Only three are through Netflix Watch Instant, by the way (How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War and Mirror Mirror). And one short has been embedded in the post. 

read more...

JENNIFER LAWRENCE and BRADLEY COOPER star in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

The 70th Golden Globe Awards will be held tomorrow night, and I invite you to join myself and FSR’s awards guru, Daniel Walber, for live-blog commentary during the ceremony. We’ll try to keep it smart, avoid too much snark and will likely be obeying the rules of the drinking game that co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have devised. It will also hopefully be more conversational than remarks we could have just tweeted, in order that I can turn the discussion around as a more readable post-event recap of the night. In case you’re too busy paying attention to your TV to also read our words simultaneously. Anyway, you can’t head into a big awards telecast viewing without predictions for what you think will win. Daniel and I seem to agree on exactly half of the movie categories. So, maybe it won’t be such a predicable night. Check out our choices after the break and give us your own predictions in the comments. If you do better than either of us, we commend you in advance (and maybe at the end of our GG coverage too).

read more...

trailer_beasts of southern wild

Everyone calm down. The Oscar nominations are not a disaster. They actually make for the most exciting awards season in recent memory. I know that for many of us this took a few minutes to notice. I am, frankly, still pretty ticked off about Kathryn Bigelow somehow missing a nomination for Best Director. I’d rant about this, but Monika Bartyzel over at Movies.com has already done an excellent job breaking it down. Other things aren’t so much infuriating as they are irritatingly dull, like a Best Supporting Actor category full of former winners and a studio-dominated Best Animated Feature. Add that to the embarrassing jokes Emma Stone and Seth McFarlane threw at us at 8:30AM EST, and it’s not surprising Twitter turned into a mini-maelstrom of bitter resentment. However, there is much to be stoked about! There are the little things, like four nominations for my beloved Anna Karenina. There are littler things, like Quvenzhané Wallis becoming the youngest Best Actress nominee in history. There are the littlest things: PES’s Fresh Guacamole might be the shortest Oscar nominee in history with a running time of just over 90 seconds. Finally, the big picture is also a lot more intriguing than anyone would have guess just a few months ago.

read more...

sorel_pi

When contemplating my favorite films of the year, I keep forgetting about Life of Pi. Yet very few narrative features wowed me as much as Ang Lee’s spectacular adaptation. Given how much I enjoyed it in the theater, the film should have stuck with me more than it has. I blame the ending, which traded the magnificent visuals and wondrous sea adventure for a talky bookend that too directly spelled out the point of the story within the story. I don’t know that I’d say the ending ruined the rest of the film for me. I could go back and re-watch the whole thing and still appreciate all the effects and thrills and drama that excited me the first time around. But if that’s the stuff I want to remember first and foremost, I’ll probably have to leave a few minutes early next time. Lee surely is familiar enough with the craft of storytelling to know that endings are extremely important, that they can make or break an audience’s satisfaction with a movie by being the part that it is left with. He would presumably disagree with me that Life of Pi has a weak ending. And at least the staff of Entertainment Weekly believes the film actually has one of the best endings of the year. And that is fine, because a lot of people hated the endings of Prometheus, The Bourne Legacy and Savages, and I think those movies have three of the best endings of 2012. The […]

read more...

Life of Pi

Fans of our Filmmaking Tips feature and those who love to hear how the sausage is made might especially enjoy this lengthy video featuring a discussion with Ang Lee about the art of movies. The filmmaker is coming off of Life of Pi, which is either a transcendent experience with stunning visuals or just a bunch of stunning visuals depending on who you ask. Still, Lee is one of the most diverse directors currently working. It’s a rare storyteller who wrestles with both The Hulk and Mr. Darcy in between Wire fu adventures and cowboy love stories. Here, he talks more than a bit about the process of making Life of Pi as it fits into his usual framework of methods, and even though there’s a bit of translation to slog through, it’s well worth the effort. Hat tip to Roger Ebert for sending it out into the world.  

read more...

The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  Even the most visionary and original films can seem derivative, especially to those of us who watch tons of movies on a regular basis. Occasionally it’s intended for the audience to spot certain allusions and apply them to our experience with this new work, as in the case of Holy Motors. Other times it’s not so deliberate, and the fact that new movies trigger memories of older movies (and vice versa depending on when they’re seen) is all on us, yet not totally without reason given how there are really only a few base plots and themes in existence and also given that our comprehension of things, particularly imaginative things, has to be relatable to other things we’ve comprehended previously. That’s why a movie like Avatar can be “like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” but only to an extent. For it to be accessible to a wide audience — let alone be one of the biggest worldwide hits of all time — it has to “unfortunately” resemble other movies. And now Life of Pi can be likened by critics to Avatar for similarly giving us spectacle like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It sounds ironic but it’s not. Even if the magical island in Pi may even further remind us of […]

read more...
NEXT PAGE  
Twitter button
Facebook button
Google+ button
RSS feed

published: 04.18.2014
B+
published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.17.2014
D+
published: 04.17.2014
B-

Listen to Junkfood Cinema
Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
SXSW 2014
Game of Thrones reviews
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3