30 Day Film Challenge – Day 13

Posted: June 22, 2021 in Uncategorized

Lucky 13. Still going.

This one will be interesting. In a way, a lot of movies put me in deep thoughts. Deep thoughts itself is a funny term, because it always reminds me of the Saturday Night Live skits:

You could say that I over-think a lot of movies, or maybe just about all of them. Sometimes movies are just money grabs, sometimes there are contractual reasons to make a movie, or sponsorship obligations to fulfill, or some leftover money in the wallet, or a director will make one movie for a studio so that they will turn around and give that director money to make one they want. Sometimes, a movie is just a movie.

But I still like to think about them. I mean, most movies cost millions of dollars and have hundreds of people working on them. When there’s that much money and manpower involved, how can people decide to make a movie with the same attitude that I might have when I decide to have pizza for dinner? There has to be passion involved. And if someone is putting passion into making a movie, it’s at least worth my over-analysis. If it’s really bad, then it’s not worth a lot of my time. But years ago, I was a reader for a small studio, and I would be given scripts to read and write “coverage” for (“Coverage” being the insider Hollywood term for “a synopsis.”). I read lot of bad scripts, and passed on almost every one, but even the really bad ones were written by someone like me who had a dream to be a screenwriter, and that person wrote it, got it in the hands of an agent, and the agent believed enough in it to get it to the studio.. who gave it to a dumb intern like me who would pass on it, but still, it was better than I was doing.

Having said all that, there are movies that are designed to make you think. This list on IMDB is actually pretty thought-provoking in itself. Next to movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Memento, you have Office Space and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I guess what provokes thoughts in one person doesn’t provoke anything to others. Although I did consider reposting my Office Space rant from a few years ago and calling it a day, but how many times can I keep doing that? (Incidentally, here it is.)

Life of Pi was one that got me thinking a lot, though, so I’m going to go with that. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s the kid trapped on the lifeboat with the tiger, directed by Ang Lee. The thing is, there’s a lot of build-up before he ends up on that lifeboat, as the story is told in flashback, and we learn that Pi, the kid in question, had an interesting childhood where he basically “taste-tested” a bunch of religions, and then takes what he wants from all of them. Through that experience, he learns about stories and adventures.

But how did he end up on the boat with the tiger? Well, his father owned a zoo, which was home to this tiger, mistakenly named “Richard Parker,” due to a mix-up when he was delivered. While traveling from their home in India to Canada by ship to sell the zoo and all the animals, Pi’s ship is sunk by a freak storm. Pi is able to make it on a lifeboat, along with a zebra, orangutan and hyena, and we later learn, Richard Parker, but the rest of his family and the animals all go down with the ship. There is also some guilt because the storm came in the middle of the night, but PI wanted to go up on the deck and witness God’s power, so he started opening doors, and that’s when it all went to shit.

On the lifeboat, the hyena kills the zebra and orangutan, and has his sights set on Pi, when Richard Parker comes out of nowhere and kills the hyena. Pi swims for safety, but is in the middle of the ocean. But through his reading and learning, he is eventually able to effectively teach Richard Parker that they can co-exist. The movie ends when the lifeboat floats to shore. Pi slumps onto the beach, while Richard Parker walks into the jungle, never to be seen again. While Pi is recovering in the hospital, insurance agents come to question him, not believing his story. He tells them a different story, replacing the orangutan, zebra and hyena with his mother, a sailor and the ship’s cook. The results are eerily similar. In this story, PI kills the cook/hyena, substituting himself for the tiger. The adult Pi, who is telling the story to a writer who wants to turn his life into a book, asks him which story the writer prefers, and the writer responds, “The one with the tiger. That’s the better story.”

That’s what this movie is all about, in my book. It doesn’t matter, as Adult Pi points out, which one is true because his family dies in both of them, but he survives. If you want to believe that he did it by killing the cook, who had killed his mother, and chopping up his remains for fish bait, that’s cool, but I don’t want to see that movie. I like this movie.

There’s so much more going on, as well. The weird island they land on that is not on any maps of the ocean. The storm that comes and almost does the lifeboat in and scares the beejesus out of Richard Parker, prompting Pi to scream to the heavens, “Why are you torturing him?” The crazy glow-y fish that swim around the lifeboat at night. The fact that when Richard Parker leaves him on the beach, without looking back or acknowledging him, Pi weeps uncontrollably, because they had survived this whole ordeal together, and he just walked away.

Pi takes in the bioluminescent wonders of the sea.

It’s all amazing, and great filmmaking by Ang Lee. But, like I said, I like to think about movies, and with this one, it’s the story that gets me thinking.

Thanks for reading. Some back tomorrow for more fun and excitement.

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