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Neil Fox on film: The Life Of Pi, Pitch Perfect

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Life of Pi

The end of the year has provided a stellar roster of films that push the cinematic envelope technically, but while the likes of Skyfall and The Master balance the style and substance quotas with ease, The Hobbit and now this ambitious adaptation have found it harder to master.

Yann Martel’s acclaimed and award winning novel quickly found a home in the ‘unfilmable’ category given the structure and central idea, but that hasn’t stopped Ang Lee taking it on.

The story revolves around a family selling their zoo animals to Canada and the disaster that strikes the journey from India. Young Pi spends over 200 days at sea, awaiting rescue, his only companion a fearsome tiger.

When he is finally rescued, no one believes his story so he tells them an alternative.

The limitations of the narrative are clear, with most of the ‘action’ taking place in a small rowing boat, but Lee is a master of frame and composition and alongside the incredible special effects his inventiveness is the most fascinating part of the film.

The one aspect he can’t quite master is the pacing and the literary nature of the material which makes the drama seem too heavy handed at times, he tries to cram too many ideas in and it threatens to sink the small, merry band of adventuring survivors.

It’s worth seeing for the best use of narrative 3D since Hugo alone. Visually stunning, narratively wanting.

Pitch Perfect

The Glee effect finally infects the big screen with this admittedly more bawdy and edgy – well, compared to the anodyne TV series – tale of college girl singing groups.

The film is really helped by the lead role being taken by Anna Kendrick (Up In The Air, Scott Pilgrim) who is a fantastically talented actress and she really elevates the material here.

She plays Beca, a freshman who joins her university girl group to impress a boy and changes things in a really positive way, giving the girls the confidence to take on the dominant male group, which contains the object of Beca’s affection.

The film is fun, with some funny lines and great performances – both comedy and musical – but it’s a messy mélange of romantic, coming of age and teen angst storylines that never really mesh into one coherent tune, which is a shame, because Kendrick deserves better.

 

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