Those period pieces are always terrible."
The dilemma is, again, about what movie to watch and the supermodel girlfriend is voicing her opinion. On the one hand Sense and Sensibility is director Ang Lee's most critically acclaimed film — Oscar-winning material cast with A-list talent, based on a book that's been popular for centuries. Surely a quick dose of Sense and Sensibility will offer insight into what to expect this Friday when Life of Pi opens, another Ang Lee film based on a hyper-popular novel.
"Don't do it," the supermodel says. And she's right, even in the best-case-scenario those costume dramas drag like a zombie's shoelace. And besides, 1971's The Brotherhood of Satan is playing on Crackle.com, so who's kidding who? Satan wins again.
Ang Lee isn't kidding around either. Life of Pi has been called an "un-filmable book" and this is an ambitious project that places a lot of faith in CGI. Last time Ang Lee did that was 2003's The Hulk, a critical and commercial non-victory that was ahead of its time — The Hulk pre-supposed that comic-book movies could co-exist with character depth and maturity. Two years later Batman Begins proved the point.
Life of Pi follows the extraordinary life story of Piscine Molitor, aka Pi, the son of a pragmatic zookeeper. Pi's life journey is marked with a too-sweet love of all religions but it also includes some fantastical tales, real wisdom and a perfectly rendered (visually and character-wise) Bengal tiger.
Ang Lee is a visual genius and this may be his most beautiful flick yet. Life of Pi is not the spiritual experience it strives for and the narrator-framed thematic arc will seem cloying to some, but this is still worth seeing. Word is Ang Lee makes 3D worth it again but Life of Pi plays in 2D only for now. It sounds like Whistler Village 8 is not hitting us with 3D until Peter Jackson's The Hobbit drops Dec. 13. That's something to get excited about — the return of the king.
Speaking of big names, Lincoln is also playing this week. Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This one enthusiastically tells the story of Abraham Lincoln, the greatest American hero, but looks super "Go Team!" Regardless of the talent involved, Lincoln is set in the year 1863, placing it dangerously within the "period piece" realm. And so the supermodel and I will pass on this one and instead enjoy Bekmambetov's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Which is essentially the same story but with really kick-ass ninja axe battles.
On the internet, Mike Douglas's Switchback films dropped the latest Salomon Freeski TV this week. Glasnost Ski sees the boys skiing pow in Russia and staying in an abandoned Cold War presidential palace/bunker. Mike talks about being a school kid in the early '80s and worrying about Russian paratroopers dropping into the soccer field.
That's the seminal scene in John Milius' 1984 classic Red Dawn and the Red Dawn remake also hits screens this week. Tragically, it's a PG-rated crapheap of a film that replaces Cold War Soviets with, get this, North Korean paratroopers. That's right, North Korea instigates a land-attack on U.S. soil. I doubt Mr. Douglas will be losing sleep this time around.
Speaking of, check out the theatrical World Premier of Mike Douglas's latest ski flick Tempting Fear at the Whistler Film Festival on Dec 2. The always-awesome Whistler Film Festival is bringing over 70 flicks and very few of them (we hope) will be period-piece costume dramas.