Andrea Di Stefano and Vanessa di Stefano - Wood & Vine Presents the Los Angeles Premiere of Escobar: Paradise Lost - Arrivals at ArcLight Hollywood - Hollywood, California, United States - Tuesday 23rd June 2015
Rome Film Festival - 'Escobar: Paradise Lost' - Photocall
Working with perceptive writer David Magee (Finding Neverand), Ang Lee creates one of the most thoughtful, artistic blockbusters ever made by a Hollywood studio. Although Yann Martel's award-winning novel was considered unfilmable, Magee and Lee have managed to maintain the delicate balance of an awesome adventure story with provocative themes that echo long after the story reaches its tricky, mind-expanding conclusion.
Imaginative teen Pi Patel (Sharma) grew up in a zoo owned by his parents (Hussain and Tabu) in formerly French India. And when hard times come, they decide to pack up and move with the animals to Canada. But the ship they are travelling on runs into a fierce storm in the Pacific, sinking suddenly and leaving Pi as the lone survivor on a lifeboat with a wounded zebra, a frantic hyena, a seasick orang-utan and a hungry Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Over the coming months, Pi and Richard Parker survive due to the challenges of coexisting in such a confined space. And with his Buddhist, Christian and Islamic beliefs, Pi now believes the experience also helps explain the existence of God.
The film adds a framing device as a writer (Spall) interviews the older Pi (Khan), essentially putting both us and Martel into the story. This helps open the themes up in intensely personal ways, while grounding the extravagantly visual ordeal at sea with a quietly involving house-bound conversation. And far from removing suspense, knowing that Pi survives brings out the layers of meaning in ways that are suspenseful and challenging. Everything about the story is infused with the idea of faith in God, with intriguing parallels in the relationships between humans, animals and nature. But none of this is overstated: it's subtle and questioning rather than preachy. And much more effective as a result.
Continue reading: Life of Pi Review
When New York writer Liz (Roberts) decides she's tired of her loving-but-aimless husband (Crudup), she has a rebound romance with a young actor (Franco) before deciding to travel the world to find herself. Her sassy friend Delia (Davis) thinks she's crazy, but Liz takes off for Rome, where she discovers food and friends (Novotny and Argentero). In India she seeks inner peace with a fellow traveller (Jenkins). And in Bali she studies with a guru (Subiyanto) and falls for a Brazilian (Bardem) who has baggage of his own.
Continue reading: Eat Pray Love Review
Alas, the subject of Before Night Falls is likely not a name you'll be familiar with anyway, but there he is, a speechless little boy playing in a pit dug in the ground. As it turns out, Reinaldo Arenas was an acclaimed Cuban author, and I have to take the press notes' word on that, as I've never heard of the guy. His life certainly appears to have been filled with adventure and tragedy, as many Cuban lives undoubtedly have been. Outcast as a youth for his interest in writing and his predilection for the male gender, Arenas was persecuted, imprisoned, exiled, and infected (apparently with AIDS, though it's never really specified). And all the while he just wants to write his poetry and novels. Perhaps the best scene in the film has Arenas floating in escape from one round in prison, his manuscript tied to his waist in a plastic bag.
Continue reading: Before Night Falls Review
Reinaldo Arenas was a gifted Cuban novelist and poet whose life of poverty, hardship, revolution, censorship, imprisonment and exile never stemmed his formulation of passionate prose.
In "Before Night Falls," artist/filmmaker Julien Schnabel pays devotional homage to the writer with a soul-probing and beautifully cinematic adaptation of his memoirs, begun in a Cuban prison in 1973 and published posthumously after he succumbed to AIDS in New York in 1990.
The film, which tracks Arenas's entire life beginning with his childhood in a dirt-floored farmhouse, features dulcet, moving voice-overs from his poetry. It boasts powerful symbolism and political statements about freedom and persecution, not to mention cinematography that brings vividly to life the ironic contrast of Cuba's impoverished living conditions with its breathtaking beauty.
Continue reading: Before Night Falls Review