Movie 3: Life of Pi

life of piLife of Pi chronicles the adventures of a young man seeking the meaning of religion who happens to deal with a disaster at sea. His epic journey is one of adventure and discovery that involves a bond with a Bengal Tiger.  Available in 3D, I chose to see this version of the movie which is well worth the extra effort.  The last movie I watched in 3D was Avatar and the quality of Life of Pi in 3D surpasses that of what I recall from Avatar.

Was I entertained? A definite YES although a tad bit slow in the middle but something that is just a detail and not a detriment to the movie experience.  Did I think about the movie afterwards? life-of-pi02Yes; it brought up some interesting thoughts and questions about life although I will probably not think too much about the message of the story much past a day or two. Having said that, would I see it again?  Yes I would; obviously not right away but totally entertaining, particularly the artistry in the movie.  I highly recommend seeing it in 3D; this movie was made with the 3D effects in mind that were lifeofpi3consistent throughout the 2 hours.  Would I recommend it to others?  Yes, go see it, particularly in 3D (did I mention that enough times?).  The movie’s entertainment value is high, offers an interesting message that will make you think, even if just a little bit.  Ang Lee delivers as Director and kudos to his talents.  The hard part is figuring out if this movie is a better picture than Argo; hard to tell since they are so different and I need to chew on that for a bit. Bottom line, well worth paying the ticket to see it in the theater.


Movie 2: Zero Dark Thirty

Zero-Dark-Thirty__121106175531Following the September 2001 attacks, Zero Dark Thirty is a dramatized account of the decade-long, global mission devoted to finding and eliminating al-Qaeda’s terrorist leader Usama Bin Laden. The movie focuses on Maya, a CIA officer instrumental in piecing together the web of intelligence that pinpointed the location of Usama Bin Laden and eventually resulted in his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L.S. Team 6 on May 1, 2011.  Given the summary of this movie, how does it measure up for being a contender for Best Picture in 2013?

zero oneBased on previously established criteria, was I entertained?  Sorry to say it but the answer is NO, particularly during the first hour and a half or so.  I understand that the purpose of the movie was to highlight a decade of events but took way too long to map out the events leading up to the mission.  The movie is 157 minutes in length, about 60 minutes too long.  While some may argue that the point of the movie was to dramatize a decade of events, Ron Howard’s movie Apollo 13 kept coming to mind.  Like Zero Dark Thirty, Apollo 13 is a movie where the viewer is familiar with the outcome of the story prior to seeing it in the theater.  With Apollo 13, I was totally engrossed in the events of the movie as if they were happening for the first time, anxious and hopeful that events would end favorably despite already knowing the ending.  Zero Dark Thirty failed to acquire that level of drama.  I am sorry to share that I was a little bored (although I tried really hard to get into it) and found myself wondering when will this movie finally get to the point.

zero twoDid I think about this movie much after seeing it? No, other than being disappointed it was so long; the dramatic moments seemed to be forced and too much attention was focused on conversations and details that were probably critical to the essence of the real story yet ineffective in terms of generating entertainment value.

zero threeWould I see it again and recommend it to others?  No, I would not see it again.  That is the difference between this movie and Argo.  Real events were portrayed in both movies but I would definitely see Argo again while forgoing Zero Dark Thirty.  Would I recommend it to others?  Sure, go see it and make your own conclusion; after all, it is an Oscar nominated movie and I represent only one opinion.  Having said that, I am left with the impression that Zero Dark Thirty was nominated for best picture mainly due to the political nature of its content and perhaps as a residual result of Director Katheryn Bigelow’s previous success with Hurt Locker.

Movie 1: Argo

Argo PosterIn response to the United States sheltering the deposed Shah of Iran, the U.S. Embassy in Theran is stormed by Iranian militants in November 1979, taking a group of American’s hostage in what became known as the Iran Hostage Crisis.  Six U.S. diplomats evaded capture, hiding out at the home of Canada’s Ambassador. Argo, starring and directed by Ben Affleck, is a dramatization based on these real events, focusing on how CIA operative Tony Mendez led the rescue attempt of these six U.S. diplomats.

thumbsEveryone has different criteria for what makes a movie the “Best Picture”. In the absence of universal standards, I have created my own, not as an Academy insider, but as an Oscar watcher and occasional movie goer.  Basically, 1) was the movie entertaining, 2) did I think about the movie afterwards?, and 3) would I see it again/recommend it to others?

argoimageIn the case of Argo, I was entertained and never once hoped/wondered when the movie would end.  Didn’t think too much about the movie after seeing it but I would be willing to see it again and recommend it to others.  By the way, Brad Pitt was originally supposed to play the part of Tony Mendez but due to scheduling issues, Ben ended up taking the part.

My Oscar Adventure

oscarEvery year, I vow to go see every Oscar nominated movie prior to the annual Academy Award Show.  Every year, I fail to even come close to seeing half of the nominated movies; this holds true for those years prior to 2009 when the Academy nominated only five movies for Best Picture, let alone the recently established standard of ten. Nevertheless, 2013 is a year committed to adventure and challenge.  In the spirit of my resolution, the goal is to see every movie nominated for Best Picture of 2013 on or before the airing of the 85th annual Academy Awards scheduled for Sunday, February 24 at 7:30 pm CST on ABC (hosted by Seth MacFarlane, creator and voice of Family Guy).

In case you missed the announcement, the nine (yes, nine, not ten)  nominees are:

popcornMy prediction of the winner? That would be ME as a finally treat myself to seeing a few handful of what I hope to be great movies.  For those in St. Louis, let me know if you are interested in going to see any of the above movies other than Argo; saw it with Sri Lanka adventure and travel buddy Julie Rivinus in December. Stay tuned for weekly updates of my movie viewing status along with general impressions.

Farewell Dinner in Sri Lanka

imageThursday, January 10 was a travel day from the Manheim Hotel in tea country back to Colombo.  Although the distance is only 200 KM, due to lack of highways, the treck took five hours.  A stop was made for some tea and small eats as they call them here in Sri Lanka. I had the most interesting  piece of pizza that required an additional slice; cheese, chilli pepper, onion, carrot, and other veggies.

imageUpon our return to Jehan’s house, final shopping was completed where I adopted a small wooden baby elephant to display in my home as a special memory of this trip.  In addition, a wooden Buddha statue came home with me; it is the peaceful and serene version that was seen throughout my two weeks in Sri Lanka. A beautiful Buddha prayer bead neck lace was also purchased, a very special gift handmade by Jehan’s friend who owns her own jewelry store called 1948.

imageThe highlight of the evening was dinner with Jehan’s cousins. Pictured are Chrishan, daughter Karin and wife Mihela from Dallas, TX and his other cousin Ravi’s family from Colombo imageincluding son Shael, daughter Shemiah, and wife Sanchita.  The dinner was a traditional Sri Lankan meal (minus the wild boar due to some issues previously mentioned) that was delicious. I cannot wait to make a meal like this at home.

imageAfter dinner it was time to go to the airport. When it was time to say goodbye to Jehan, I will admit that I teared up and had difficulty expressing my gratitude other than giving Jehan a hug and a quick thank you.  He made this trip so special; his hospitality was so genuine and he opened up his home to me as if I had been his friend for years prior. Thank you Jehan and thanks to Julie Rivinus who invited me to go to Sri Lanka to visit her Wooster College friend.  What an amazing trip this has been.

Tea Country

imageTwo days at the Manheim Hotel located in tea country.  Unlike the beaches, this part of the country is very green and mountainous.  Driving through this area involves a lot of hair pin turns and not for the weak stomach.  Tea was brought to Sri Lanka in 1867 by the Scottsman James Taylor.  Sri Lanka is responsible for 11-12% of the world’s tea and mainly produces and exports black tea.

imageThe countryside houses several Hindu Temples that are decorated with numerous statuettes along its roofs.  It is very common to see Buddhist priests in bright orange attire walking the streets amongst the people.