Donnerstag, 29. November 2012

Life of Pi

I still remember the moment I turned the final page of Yann Martel's "Life of Pi".

It was a weekend morning in 2003, I was in my dorm room in Hualien, Taiwan, for military service. The days were long and the idle Pacific breeze never far from touch. Out of nowhere came this Canadian author's fantastical tale about an Indian boy and a tiger, and when its last sentence fell, it shook me to the bone.

Nearly a decade later, one of my favorite works of fiction finally made its way to the big screen. Thanks to the uncommonly beautiful images captured by Claudio Miranda, the haunting and emotionally eloquent music scored by Mychael Danna, the seamless visual effects created by a team of thousands and an able cast anchored by the majestic tranquility of Irrfan Khan, this seemingly impossible leap was achieved in front of our eyes, and it was magical.

Faithful as the adaptation is to the original, it also inherited the book's weaknesses, evidenced by some glitches in editing. But as a fan of Martel's work, especially his take on the power of storytelling and the essence of faith, there's really nothing more you can ask for than the vision and craft of an assured and soulful filmmaker as amply displayed in this movie. For that, thank you, Ang Lee.

Montag, 26. November 2012

De rouilles et d'os (Rust and Bone)

The rawness, immediacy and blunt force from Jacques Audiard's previous effort "Un prophète (A Prophet)" are still palpable in "De rouilles et d'os (Rust and Bone)", but here the director applies much more subdued, softly expressive lensing to create a savage lyricism in his frames and allow the vulnerability of the characters to shine through.

The two leads, Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts, both playing scarred souls with physical wounds, gave superb performances that bare and dare with uncompromising honesty. It's just too bad the film lacks an overriding narrative punch to bring it all home in the end.

Mittwoch, 21. November 2012

In Another Country

Some scenes in Korean director Hong Sang-soo's "In Another Country" fall flat on a curious artificiality from a stiffness in dialogue, but for the most part, it's a wonderfully organic comedy about cultural clashes based once again on the filmmaker's winning formula of repetition and variations, whereby the follies of life get revealed in a puzzling, dazzling structure.

The deceptively simple story is sprinkled with delightful, observant details, and Isabelle Huppert, as magnificent as always, has seldom been so playful and loose on the big screen, it's a joy to watch.

Samstag, 17. November 2012

Cloud Atlas

It takes a while to get into the rhythm of the truncated, seemingly random narrative structure of The Wachowskis & Tom Tykwer’s “Cloud Atlas”, but what a bliss when you settle into the audacious filmmakers' sprawling vision carried by top-notch production values, an ensemble cast made to feel even more enormous by its versatility, and above all that timeless sigh reverberating down a thousand years of human consciousness, longing, brutality and salvation.

Freewheeling, genre-hopping, more faint echos of one another than inherently connected in any way, some people may find trouble with the amount of storylines in this gigantic sci-fi extravaganza- and it does get trying now and then- but in its best moments, all the intercutting threads fall into place like notes in a symphony with fluidity, urgency and transcendent harmony to convey something that, all elusiveness aside, feels big, true and defining, which is what makes this movie an epic in every sense of the word.

Samstag, 3. November 2012

Oh Boy

Writer/director Jan Ole Gerster's feature film debut "Oh Boy", about a young guy's 24-hour odyssey through Berlin, is as featherlight and unassuming as they come, but it captures some of those impossibly real and indefinably tragicomic moments in life with aplomb, ponders the glory and disrepair of the great German capital with striking b/w pictures, gathers wonderfully varied performances from a supporting cast surrounding the luminous Tom Schilling, and caps it all off with a laid-back, jazzy soundtrack that's loveliness itself.

It's authentic, funny, surprisingly tender and irresistibly cool. Oh boy, I adore this movie.