Life of Pi 3D (2012)

Life of Pi Movie PosterThe Life of Pi is an adaptation of the novel by Yann Martel, published in 2001, that tells the story of a young man's survival after the ship he is travelling on sinks in the Pacific. He survives on a life-raft with a Zebra, an Orangutang, a Hyena and a Bengal Tiger.

The film version has been adapted to screen by director Ang Lee (Eat Drink Man Woman [1994], Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon [2000], Brokeback Mountain [2005]) and writer David Magee (Finding Neverland [2004]) and they do it very well. One of the hardest things with adapting a novel to screen is what do you leave in or take out. With Pi, I found nothing missing from the book, and if there was it was not necessary for the telling of the tale, making this by far the best literal adaptation of a novel to screen that I have seen.

The film opens with the writer meeting Pi Patel at his home in Canada with a brief explanation of how the writer came to find the Life of Pi – “a story that will make you believe in God”. This in itself is an excellent adaptation of the Author's note from the novel merged with the central narrative, and proof of David Magee's desire to provide a concise yet accurate telling of this tale. Pi then begins his story...

The film take us on a beautiful journey, filled with humanity and humour amidst tragedy and some spectacular visuals. The performance of Suraj Sharma as the young Pi is excellent in its innocence, bookended by Irrfan Khan's delightfully engaging elder Pi. The rest of the cast do a great job of establishing their characters and value to Pi with their limited screen time.

Life of Pi uses 3D incredibly well - The opening sequence of the animals in the zoo, some of the raft and underwater scenes (there is an almost palpable depth and scale to the imagery rather than the decoupage effect I have witnessed in other 3D films and trailers) entrancing the viewer with intense, vibrant, and surreal image in a manner that feels pure and inescapable. The technology is rarely used to hurl objects at the audience, instead focusing on the splendour, isolation and intimacy of the stage to great affect. The 3D is not perfect, but this is the first film since Avatar that has made me believe this technology can add something to the cinema experience.

Life of Pi brings to cinema a wonderful, humour and hope-filled fantasy to movie theatres inundated with gritty, realistic, heavily dramatic, or moronic films. It easily earns 9 out of 10.


Samsara (2011)

Samsara PosterSamsara is one of the most beautiful, disturbing, elating and haunting films I have seen. It is the third film collaboration by director Ron Fricke and producer Mark Magidson.

Their first film was Chronos (1985) was a 43 minute IMAX film that is regarded as the first non-verbal non-fiction motion picture. Sadly in Australia I have only ever come across a 4:3 version of this film and have not seen it in its full 65mm 1:78:1 aspect, but it is still a beautiful piece of film showing the grandeur of our planet to a very elegant musical score.

Their second film Baraka (1992) was a far more impressive film. Shot on 70mm in 2:20:1 aspect, it was released in Australia in 1994 and had a profound effect on me. Featuring footage of 24 countries, filmed over to an epic musical score, the film displayed some of the epic wonder of our planet and the people upon it, while also showing a number of the ills of our modern society. I have seen this film over 20 times since its release and it is one of the few films I have found that truly benefits from the Blu-Ray High Definition format. Baraka means 'blessing'.

Samsara (2011), released to the general public this year, is an intellectual and thematic continuation of Baraka, once more offering a range of visuals from 25 countries and filmed over 5 years. Samsara means 'the cycle of death and rebirth to which life in the material world is bound.' The name informs the viewer of the nature of this venture, being a weightier film than the 20 year old Baraka. The visuals that the team has put together must have been a logistical nightmare to obtain, ranging from Thiksey Monastery in India, to sweat shops in China, the Hawaiian Volcanoes to the Chateau de Versailles, the Ninth Ward of New Orleans to Mecca.

From the moment the film begins you are entranced, ensnared. For the next 100 minutes your life belongs to film. The musical score controls the rhythm of your breath, the images your thoughts. It is a meditation on the world and your place within it, taking you from calm to elated glory at the wonder of the natural world, human rituals, as well as the traditional and modern world we have built, then through to roiling distressed horror at the inconsistencies of how human life operates, before returning you to the epic beauty of our world and the people upon it.

Samsara is a wonderful film project that engages you, emotionally and philosophically, and the experience can not be shed immediately upon leaving the cinema.

A joyous and concerning film that I think everyone should watch. 9/10 for sheer epic brilliance.

Samsara (2011) Trailer

Baraka (1992) Trailer


7 July 2012 - The Bamboos @ The Gov

Saturday afternoon we were wondering what we would do that evening and whilst pottering around the house doing the weekly chores I came across an article that Rina had torn out of the Messenger last month. It was a simple statement: The Bamboos play Sat 7 July at the Gov.

Rina had heard them as a feature of ABC Dig Radio and thought they were cool A quick trip around the net and through Youtube and I realised why: They were indeed a very cool and funky band which, whilst I wasn't really aware of who they were I had heard their songs over the years and what I heard today was enough to make me want to see them live.

The Gov is an iconic music venue in Adelaide, situated on the western edge of the parklands across from the Entertainment Centre on Port Road. It is Iconic in that it has managed to survive as a music venue while others in Adelaide have been crushed by the increased urbanisation in their immediate vicinity. I've seen numerous bands there (some good, some not, and others brilliant) including 'The Cherry Poppin' Daddies', 'Soul Sistas', and 'The Beards', and many more. The venue hosts a range of genres and bands of various popularity and notoriety and for the most part is pretty cheap. It can also hold around 700 people so you can get a good sized crowd.

Tonight's show cost $35 at the door and we got the last two tickets.

After we got in we saw the schedule. 7:30-8:30 DJ, 8:30-9:15 The Transatlantics, 9:30-10:45 DJ, 10:45-12:15 The Bamboos. It was going to be a long night.

TransatlanticsThe Transatlantics took the stage late, which isn't so bad because it means less DJ before the main act. The Transatlantics are an Adelaide band inspired by 1950/60's Soul with 3 vocalists and a 7-piece band. They cover the small stage and dress the part. Their music is pretty decent but their performance kept us from truly enjoying ourselves. Quite a few of them seemed bored and distant which I find prevents a live show from achieving Awesome. It's quite a shame really because if you closed your eyes, you started to really dig their music and vibe. I would gladly see them again as I hope this performance was just one of those days for the band. They've got some of their tracks available on the website, so pop across and have a listen.

Bamboos2The Bamboos took the stage and they instantly set themselves apart from the Transatlantics. There was a vitality that had been sorely lacking earlier in the night. These were musicians who truly believed they had the best job in the world and it came through in each movement, note, chord and octave.

The band has been around since 2001 and has steadily grown and evolved to the current 9 piece format. The music is easily digested funk – upbeat, well orchestrated and excellently delivered.

When Lance Ferguson, the band leader and guitarist, starts playing there is an instant familiarity to his performance. You feel as though you've been here before and are glad to be back. Kylie Auldist, the lead vocalist, opens her mouth and immediately establishes an intimacy connection with the audience. The rest of the group all play their roles well and the room fills with warmth from their delivery. There isn't a moment of their performance that feels lacking or wanting for more, even when Kylie hands over the stage to Ella Thompson, the other vocalist, the pace and atmosphere continues unabated proving herself an excellent singer.

I went from having no idea about this band to fan within a matter of hours. I would heartily recommend that you check out their website to have a listen and check them out the next time they come through town.

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