Music Break: Life Of Pi Soundtrack

LifeOfPiOpening

Ang Lee’s beautifully-made Life of Pi‘s released on Blu-ray/DVD this week, and since I had just been talking about Asian directors, might as well feature his film on today’s music break.

Canadian Composer Mychael Danna has won a Golden Globe and Oscar for his astounding soundtrack work for this film. This is Danna’s third collaboration with Lee, previously scoring his films The Ice Storm and Ride with the Devil. Though he’s got nearly 100 titles under his belt, Life of Pi is perhaps his most celebrated work to date, winning an Oscar in his first ever nomination. Certainly the win is well-deserved, the score is just as beautiful as the visuals, so talk about ear and eye candy!

My favorite is Pi’s lullaby in the opening sequence where we’re introduced to Pi’s family-owned zoo. The music literally has that soothing effect, it’s just so wonderful to listen to and it really takes me to another place. There’s obviously a soulful, spiritual quality to it that adds to its appeal.

Danna worked with Mumbai-based singer Jayashri Ramnath on this opening song, and her beautiful, calming voice is just so perfect for it. Ramnath also worked on the lyrics, so naturally she’s credited in the Oscar’s Best Music (Original Song) nomination along with Danna who composed the song. This article talks about Ang Lee’s direction to keep the song simple and soft — “A child sleeps not because he is sleepy, but because he feels safe.” They certainly captured that sentiment splendidly!

Per Awardsline, Danna spent a year on the score that uses music and sounds from around the world. … incorporated the sounds of Asia—especially India—into a multicultural stew of a score. Along with a full studio orchestra, accordion, piano, celesta, and mandolin, Danna added Balinese gamelan, Persian ney, basuri (an Indian transverse flute), Indian percussion, and, of course, the sitar. Plus, the venerable Pandit Jasraj (still going strong at 82) contributed vocals.

Thanks to SoundCloud.com, I was able to embed the tracks below for your listening enjoyment:


Hope you enjoyed today’s music break. Thoughts on Life of Pi’s soundtrack?

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Weekend Roundup: Quick Thoughts on Life of Pi

Hello all! It’s been quite a hectic weekend for me – one company holiday party and a farewell dinner for a friend who’s moving out of town. But I was able to fit in a trip to the cinema to catch Life of Pi before its last theatrical run. We were expecting an empty theater at 10:30 in the morning but the theater was actually about half full. So the Oscar nominations surely has an impact on those films being nominated. Speaking of award season, apparently the Golden Globes was on tonight (check out Sati’s entertaining musings on the telecast). I found out about it as I was on Twitter, but really I had no desire to watch it for some reason. Just wasn’t quite ready for the self-congratulatory award season yet, despite my Oscar reaction post this past week.

Truth be told, I’m feeling a bit under the weather, so I haven’t quite finished my review of Zero Dark Thirty yet, but I’ll say this though, the film certainly deserved the Oscar nomination for Best Picture and I’m even more convinced that Kathryn Bigelow is robbed big time out of the directing nod.

Anyway, here’s my quick review of…

Life of Pi

LifeOfPiPosterMy friend Sarah M. has given me her review a few months ago and she absolutely loved the film. She also loved the book but I actually never read the famous novel by Yann Martel. It tells a fascinating story of an Indian boy named Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel (Suraj Sharma) who survives 227 days being stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The film was told in flashback by the older Pi (Irrfan Khan). How the boy and the tiger got their names are quite amusing, but more than mere amusement, the story attempts to explore the journey of spirituality and faith. Pi was an earnest seeker, searching for life’s meaning and grasping with the concept of ‘God’ by embracing various beliefs, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam, all at once.

“If you believe in everything, you will end up not believing in anything at all,” Pi’s father told him. A profound word of wisdom indeed, though in the end neither the protagonist nor the film itself follow such an advice. Instead, it would rather subscribe to the [much more popular] notion that ‘all roads lead to Heaven.’ I find the spirituality aspect very intriguing… it’s a story that ‘will make you believe in God,’ said the protagonist as he began to tell his life story. It’s a rather abstract concept of God however, as the film does not make a stance for or against one way or the other. It’s simply presenting the protagonist’s interpretation of who God is.

As a fantastical film, it’s beautifully-made by Ang Lee, who’s known for his knack for genre-jumping. Just look at his filmography and you’ll find he’s quite bold in his film choices. So it’s only natural that he picked a fantasy adventure and pick what people deemed an ‘unfilmmable’ novel. Right from the opening sequence, it’s clear we’d be treated to a visual feast. Nice to see that the 3D was worth it, it enhances the experience without being overwhelming. The colors are so vivid, I find the night scenes even more beautiful.

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Performance-wise I’m quite impressed by both actors playing Pi, as they both give an emotionally-engaging performance. The young Pi was played by Suraj Sharma in his big-screen debut, whilst the older Pi was played by a popular Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan. He’s not always very expressive, but for the most part, Sharma was able to make us sympathize with his character, which is quite a feat as most of the time he’s the only one on the screen with barely any dialog. The real star is perhaps Richard Parker, the beautiful Bengal tiger which shares most of the screen along with Pi. I was quite mesmerized by its beauty, it was quite a technical feat to combine the use of CGI and real-life tiger (you can watch the featurettes here). Despite never actually sharing a scene together on set, I thought the CGI of the tiger interacting with Pi was pretty realistic. That storm scene was also pretty incredible to watch.

In summary, I do appreciate the hopeful and optimistic message, but at the same time it’s not really as spiritually-enlightening as it is beautiful to look at. It may not change your views about spiritual faith, but it might restore or affirm your faith in the magic of cinema. This is a film that’s best viewed on the big screen and I’m certainly glad I did see this in its 3D glory.

4 out of 5 reels


So what did you see this weekend? Anything good?

Five for the Fifth: First Edition of 2013!

fiveforthefifth

Hello folks, welcome to the first 2013 edition of Five for the Fifth!!

As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. Well, since it’s only five days into the new year, some people are perhaps just starting their New Year’s Resolutions or perhaps already forgotten all about it, ahah. I actually haven’t really thought about it, though in terms of blogging and movies, I do want to watch more classic movies this year, which I did right away with The Shop Around the Corner on January 1st. It was pretty sweet, I love James Stewart, I need to do a JS marathon :D

Anyway, I’m curious if you’ve got any New Year’s resolution. Name one (or more if you choose) movie/blogging resolution for the year.

……
Oscar20132. Can you believe it that only 5 days away until The Academy Awards nominations! On Thursday, January 10, the nominations will be announced at 5:30 a.m. PT at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. I’ll have a reaction post after that but for now, but I feel like I’m not ready to do my 2013 predictions, though last year I was pretty good in my predictions.

Anyway, last year there was only 9 nominees, so who knows how many it’ll be this year. Well, just for the fun of it, I’ll take a stab at my predictions for the 10 Best Picture nominees:

  1. Argo
  2. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  3. Django Unchained
  4. Les Miserables
  5. Life of Pi
  6. Lincoln
  7. Moonrise Kingdom
  8. Silver Linings Playbook
  9. The Master
  10. Zero Dark Thirty

Sounds like it’s a really competitive race this year, I’m really curious which one would sweep the Oscars this year with at least five nominations or more.

So what’s YOUR Best Picture predictions, folks? Any hunch which one would take home the most Oscars?

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3. Well, you’ve probably read my goodbye letter to Gerry Butler this past week after seeing the train wreck that is Playing For Keeps. It’s too bad really, but until I see him in much better materials, I can’t simply call myself a GB fan anymore.

ChanningTatumIt’s been quite an interesting year as I actually start to like an actor I previously don’t care for. Now, I’m not exactly a fan of his yet, but at least I’m not going to brush him off so quickly as I did before. I’m referring to Channing Tatum. I first saw him in Haywire and I thought he was just ok, but his performance in Magic Mike was actually pretty good and he was hilarious in 21 Jump Street. So in fairness, I guess I’m starting to see what all the fuss is about him. But no, I’m not about to rent G.I. Joe or [gasp] Dear John.

Btw, the irony is not lost on me that GB and Channing will go mano-a-mano later this year (well not literally) with their White House action flicks. As Terrence has predicted, chances are both are going to be disappointing, ahah.

Anyway, which actor disappointed you this year and/or on the flip side, did you have a change of heart about someone you previously dislike?

4. Switching gears a bit to casting news. For quite a while now, I’ve been reading endless casting reports for yet another Marvel superhero ‘team’ movies in the works, a comic book I’m not familiar about called Guardians of the Galaxy. Just who the heck is that all about?

Even the 31st Century needs heroes, and the call has been answered by the Guardians of the Galaxy, a team of superhuman and extraterrestrial adventurers dedicated to the safeguarding of the Milky Way Galaxy from any force that threatens the security or liberty of its various people. (per Marvel.com)

Apparently James Gunn is going to direct, yet another name I’m not familiar about. But some of the actors who’ve reportedly been tested for the various roles did pique my interest. Here are just some of the names that have been linked to the project:

  • Joel Edgerton
  • Jack Huston
  • Jim Sturgess
  • Lee Pace
  • Eddie Redmayne
  • Zachary Levi
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  • Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor in Smallville)

Now, I’m not exactly interested in this movie yet, but if Lee Pace ends up being cast, now that’s a different story :D

GuardiansOfGalaxyLeePace

What do you think of this project? Any particular actor you’d like to see getting cast here?


5. Lastly, since I haven’t posted a Music Break in a while, I’ve got include a movie music in here somewhere. I don’t know if I’ll be posting my list of favorite soundtracks of 2012, but if I did, The Hobbit would surely make the list. I mean, some soundtracks you listen to later on and appreciate. But this music was an absolutely integral reason why I enjoyed the journey so much. Howard Shore did such an amazing job creating a new theme for The Hobbit, whilst incorporating some parts of The Lord of the Rings theme I’ve come to know and love. From the time Thorin (Richard Armitage) led his band of dwarves sang The Misty Mountains in what sounds like a solemn hymn, that beautiful theme continue to mesmerize and move me throughout the film.

The theme itself wasn’t written by Shore however, but by David Donaldson, David Long, Steve Roche and Janet Roddick, who apparently have worked together as composers/songwriters Wellington New Zealand (Thanks MovieMusicUK). Take a listen below:

So my last question to you is, what’s the most memorable movie music you’ve listened to this year? :D



That’s it for the first 2013 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! :D

The Christmas List Blogathon

Hello everyone! I’m back!

Actually I’ve been back since last Saturday but sooo exhausted from our hectic trip and the long layovers so I really had no energy to blog. I did manage to update the layout a bit as my theme got an upgrade to a wider format so I did a little bit of that. Hope you like it :D

Well, I was doing my rounds around my friends’ blogs when I came across the Christmas list at Sati’s blog which was apparently started by Diana at Aziza’s Picks. Inspired by the gift-giving tradition of the season, she thought about what she would buy for her fellow bloggers. What a nice idea! I actually don’t come from a culture where gift-giving is a must for Christmas, but I couldn’t help but take part in this as I believe it’s just as rewarding–if not more so—to give than to receive.

ChristmasTreePresents

Therefore, if time/location/money is no issue, this is what I wish I could give ten of my blog friends. Following Sati’s cue, my list also has a bit of fantasy mixed in (I’m sure the recipient don’t mind if it doesn’t come nicely wrapped underneath the Christmas tree) ;)

First I’d like to start with my contributor Ted Saydavalong. I hope he hasn’t got ‘em already but I’d love to ship him the Lawrence of Arabia 50th Anniversary Limited Collector’s Edition Blu-ray. Surely it would look spectacular in his home cinema (hopefully he’d invite me, he..he..)

  • Sati – An open ticket to the next Hobbit film premiere where she’ll be personally escorted by the Elven King Thranduil himself (aka Lee Pace).
    LeePaceHobbitPremiere
  • Novroz – I know she’s still over the moon watching the Mighty Boosh Special Edition DVD, so this Noel Fielding t-shirt might put her over the edge, ahah. She might never want to take ‘em off!
  • Andina – My fellow Indo blogger loves soundtracks so I’d love to get her the CDs of Life of Pi and Intouchables that she just featured recently.

  • UnforgivenPosterMichael – Since he just listed his top ten Westerns list, I’d love to ship him the Blu-ray for each of those fine selection.

  • Terrence – Now for our TV star amongst us, I’d love to surprise T with a special guest appearance from his beloved Avenger, Black Widow for his Take 2 with Terrence show. Perhaps Scarlett Johansson could drop by around the time Avengers sequel is released ;)

  • Fernando A young man of discriminating taste, perhaps a Pedro Almodóvar marathon is in order? This Viva Pedro collection should fit nicely under the Christmas tree.

  • Mark – I know he’d rather be at home in Glasgow than anywhere else (who could blame him?) but perhaps a pair of tickets to New York City in April to attend the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival might entice him to take a little American vacation? Who knows he might rub elbows with his hero, the film fest founder Robert De Niro.
    Tribeca2013
  • Paula For an elegant woman with a penchant for classic movies… I’d love to ship her just about every Cary Grant DVD Box Set I could find on TCM, such as this one.

  • Castor – For my fellow Minnesotan blogger who’s been working tirelessly all year long, I just want to somehow give him a month off from work so he could watch movies every single day. I’ll throw in some movie tickets as well to sweeten the deal :D

  • Josh – For the Oscar expert amongst us, I wish I could somehow score him a ticket to the upcoming Academy Award ceremony on February 24 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood!

So MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone! God’s blessings to you all.

ChristmasForUntoUsAChildIsBorn

A Trio of New Releases Reviews: Wreck it Ralph, Life of Pi and Hitchcock

Happy Friday and the last day of November, everybody! Are you going to the cinema this weekend? Well, unless you’re already set on seeing the new Brad Pitt retro crime thriller Killing Them Softly, perhaps you’re considering what else is worth a watch? Well then these reviews might help you make up your mind.

Thanks to FC contributor Cecilia Rusli and my colleague Sarah McNeal for two of the reviews.

Wreck-it Ralph

Director: Rich Moore
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Voice Cast: John C. Reilly, Jane Lynch, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer

In almost every video game and movies, there’s the good guy, and there’s the bad guy. Wreck It Ralph tells the story of Ralph who has always been the bad guy on a video game and has the duty of wrecking people’s apartments. Every time there’s a villain, there must be the good guy or what’s-so-called  hero. Fix-it Felix is the character which repairs everything Ralph destroyed. Actually the Wreck it Ralph game reminds me of Rampage, a 90s video game where players destroy buildings. I used to play it on PlayStation while i was a kid and it indeed brings pleasure destroying stuff.

While doing his duty on wrecking apartments, Ralph suddenly wants his life to change. He wants to be the good guy who’s being loved by people. Along the way, he met Vanellope, a kid from the world called Sugar Rush. Sugar Rush with its lovable colors looks like the ones I saw at Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. A world full of sweet treats.

It turns out that Ralph has to team up with Vanellope in Sugar Rush and help her to win a car race there. A car race is also brings some video games nostalgia. One I remember pretty well is Crash Team Racing on PlayStation where we need to have a car race with Crash Bandicoot and friends. Yes, it’s a very girly video game. I’m pretty sure there are still plenty of car race arcade games nowadays. During the race scenes, the emotions building between Ralph and Vanellope is done pretty well. The connection between them is very heart-warming and yes it officially made this movie another animated feature with a heart.

Wreck It Ralph SugarRush

Wreck-it Ralph surely will amuse people who are into video games. Lots of video games characters have a cameo here that fans will surely notice and actually name during the movie. I will not do that here as it’s more fun and exciting to discover them by surprise. In some scenes I was actually concerned that people would walk in front of the screen and I’d miss seeing the cameos!

The 3D was fine. It doesn’t have much pop-up stuff but the scenes at Sugar Rush indeed looks more exciting in 3D. Overall, Wreck-it Ralph is a sweet time machine to the age of 8-bit video games. Great story with engaging characters, lovely colors and musical score surely make Wreck it Ralph one of the best animated movie this year for me. Can’t help waiting for Despicable Me 2 next summer!

– Review by Cecilia R.

4 out of 5 reels


Life of Pi is magical and marvelous

Director: Ang Lee
Running Time: 127 Minutes
Cast: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain

Life of Pi has been near the top of my list of favorite books for years. When I heard it was being made into a movie, I wondered how. When I heard Ang Lee was director, I knew he’d nail it.

The story is of a shipwrecked boy named Pi, sharing a life raft with a tiger named Richard Parker. And so much more. This story to me is all about choosing to believe versus choosing not to – be it in God, in magic, in journeys, in life. Sure, you can believe that life is nothing more than the cells we are made up of, and when we die, we die. Or you can believe that life is a fantastic journey, rich in detail, strife, love, endurance. Which is the better story? This is the simple question the story asks.

At the end of the movie, Pi is recuperating in the hospital when some insurance adjusters come to find out why the boat sunk. Pi tells them his incredible story, which meets with stares and more questions. They want the truth, they say, just the facts. Why did the boat sink? I don’t know why the boat sunk, says Pi, but he gives them what they want and retells the story starkly. It’s not just dull, it’s torpid. In the end, even the insurance adjusters chose to believe.

LifeOfPi_Still

As an animal lover, I have to say: That poor zebra. That awful hyena. And Orange Juice, the orangutan, gets dispatched way too early. But how magnificent Richard Parker is! And those flying fish! And the jellies!

As much as this review is of a marvelous book and movie, I feel I have to put it in context. I went to see it with my husband, who knew only that I loved the book, my 15-year-old daughter, and my 62-year-old sister-in-law, who is a minister. An interesting group of people, one a focus group would almost hand select to see this movie. We all found it amazing. And we are all going back next weekend to see it in 3D!

5 out of 5 reels

– review by Sarah McNeil


Hitchcock

Director: Sacha Gervasi
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, James D’Arcy, Jessica Biel

Hitchcock is a love story between one of the most influential filmmakers of the last century, Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins), and his wife and partner Alma Reville (Helen Mirren). It’s set during the making of Psycho, and it also explored how Hitchcock came into working on what ended up being his most successful film.

I’m not familiar with the filmmaker and so the strong influence of his wife was quite eye-opening. In fact, Mirren has quite a substantial role here and this film explores the side of Hitchcock, most people perhaps aren’t familiar with. Apparently it was quite a tumultuous journey to bring Psycho to the screen and a lot of personal sacrifices had to be made. I always like getting a glimpse of the making of a classic, how films get made back in the day, the relationship between actors and the studio, etc. That’s the part that I find amusing with My Week with Marilyn.

In any biopic, especially someone as well-known as Hitchcock, the makeup is crucial. At times Hopkins’ look is distracting as he doesn’t seem to look quite right to me, like he’s always high-strung or something. After a while though, I managed to just accept that he’s Hitchcock and concentrate on the story, but perhaps having an unknown in that role might’ve worked better.

The casting of Helen Mirren is the main reason to see it for me. The dame is always so watchable and has always been a highlight in everything she’s done. Not only is she beautiful and still has a killer figure for being 3 years shy of 70, but she has that screen prowess like no other. I love all the scenes Alma is in, especially the part where she passionately gave her husband a piece of her mind during a heated argument.

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As for the rest of the supporting cast. Well, initially I wasn’t too fond of Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh (I think she’s perhaps more suitable to play Jayne Mansfield?) but she turned out to be ok and the filming of the shower scene where she was screaming her head off was quite the highlight. The scene of Anthony Perkins (James D’Arcy) meeting with Hitchcock is strangely amusing, it’s quite clear in that scene why Perkins was perfect for the role. There’s also a revelatory scene involving Vera Miles (Jessica Biel), albeit a brief one, that hints on Hitchcock’s unhealthy obsession with his leading lady. One of the most curious thing is the character of Ed Gein (Michael Wincott) as the Wisconsin serial killer who’s the inspiration for Psycho’s protagonist Norman Bates. I think their relationship was supposed to be a metaphor — the way Hitchcock seems to be consulting Gein as if he were his therapist, etc. — but it’s not entirely clear to me. Aside from the two leads though, there’s little to no depth in the supporting characters for you to care for them.

I think it’s wise that the film focuses on a specific time frame of Hitchcock’s life, but even so, given the brief 1 hr and 38 minute running time, it still feels a little rushed at times. Tonally this film seems rather off as well, it doesn’t quite work as a drama or comedy and there’s little emotional resonance overall. Perhaps mischievous is the word that comes to mind to describe this film, which I suppose is appropriate given the subject matter.

Just for the record, I actually have not seen Psycho so I was a bit worried that this biopic might be a bit lost on me, but fortunately, the film is more about Alfred and Alma than it is about the film. Perhaps people who are avid Hitchcock fans might appreciate it more though, so I’m curious to hear what they think of this film.

Hitchcock_Still2

So overall, I’m glad I knew a bit more about this iconic filmmaker and how much his wife played a part in his career. However, the film is a bit too uneven and not substantial enough to be all that memorable. Still, I find it amusing and certainly worth a look for anyone who’s seen at least one Hitchcock film.

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Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


Thoughts on any one of these films? Well, let’s hear it!