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Hammerle on ... 'Life of Pi'; 'Silver Linings Playbook'

Robert Hammerle
February 27, 2013
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hammerle022713Life of Pi

“Life of Pi” is a cinematic philosophical painting of human existence. It is a metaphysical dissertation that dissects every human being’s continual fight to add some meaning to our short stay on this convoluted Earth. Death is faced head on, and is treated as nothing more than every human’s exit door.

What director Ang Lee has done is to bring to the screen the functional equivalent of a post-graduate Philosophy of Man class. It is giving nothing away to reveal that the extraordinary adventures of a marvelous young man are told in hindsight when he reaches middle age and is living in Canada, and his revelations to a young, interested author adds another moving dimension to the film itself.

In summary, we see the young star of our film, Pi Patel (Surai Sharma), growing up in India as his parents maintain an expanding zoo. Pi is a curious young lad, not to mention a serious student of life, which includes trying to determine if there is one religion that he should embrace.
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Suffering financial difficulties, his family is forced to move to Canada, planning on stopping in the Philippines on the way to sell their animals. This breaks Pi’s heart, in large part because of his fascination with their untamed Bengal tiger, named Richard Parker.

Tragically, the ship sinks in a terrible storm, and the traumatized Pi ends up on a lifeboat with several animals, one being Richard Parker. Inevitably, one of the most difficult moments in the film is when the animals hear the call of the wild and turn on each other, forcing Pi to dangle off the bow of the boat to stay alive. These are crushing scenes, which are made all the more devastating as young Pi must come to grips with the fact that his family has died.

However, don’t avoid this film because you feel it is far too traumatic for your taste. What evolves is magical by any definition. Richard Parker and Pi are forced to deal with one another, and the cinematography of this film will grab your heart as it elevates your soul.

Quite frankly, the cinematographer, Claudio Miranda, deserved an Oscar for his incredible mastery. There are a series of overwhelming scenes involving the sea magically reflecting the presence of numerous jellyfish; a whale leaping into the air as it nearly misses Pi’s tiny boat; a moment where Pi and Richard Parker are nearly overwhelmed when they pass through a monumental school of flying, aggressive fish and a terrific scene where the boat lands against a moving island that is completely occupied by millions of curious meerkats.

Does Pi ever recover? What happens to Richard Parker? Is his story completely accurate, and do you really care even if it isn’t? Why did I cry frequently through Pi’s enchanting crisis? See it and let it wash over you.

Silver Linings Playbook

To steal the phrase from the old song by Fleetwood Mac, “Silver Linings Playbook” “makes loving fun.” It is provocative, playful, profane, creative and terribly funny. Simply stated, it knocks on the door of cinematic greatness.

What director David O. Russell has brought us is a love story that mirrors life. There are no gimmicks or cuteness, just an engrossing story about battered, flawed people trying to rise above their weaknesses. In other words, it is a tale about characters from the real world, and you won’t be able to risk embracing every last one of them for it.

Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a young man about to be released following eight months of confinement in a psychiatric institution. He returns home to live with his doting parents who are wrestling with their own issues.

The father, in an Oscar-worthy performance by Robert DeNiro, spends most of his time fixated on the Philadelphia Eagles and his bookie operation. He wants his son back on his feet, and tragically thinks the best course of action is to spend as much time as possible watching his beloved Eagles.

Mr. Cooper’s mother is played by Jacki Weaver, fresh off her Oscar-nominated performance in the film hardly anyone has seen, “Animal Kingdom” (2010). Here she is a mother with a broken heart who just wants to give her son a second chance, a far cry from her mother hen role in “Animal Kingdom” whereham rate 2 she lovingly provided a home for her three murderous psychopathic sons.

Mr. Cooper is magnificent as a bipolar guy who wants to heal, but just doesn’t know how. And it is at this moment that the movie explodes into the cinematic stratosphere with the appearance of Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany, an equally troubled neighbor. Her husband, a police officer, was recently killed while helping a motorist. She lost her job when she succumbed to having sex with all of her co-workers, and you can only marvel at her when she doesn’t run from the ugly truth.

It is simply remarkable that Ms. Lawrence has emerged in such a brief period of time into a magnificently gifted actress. As beautiful as she is, she continually breathes life into flawed characters. It began with her Oscar-nominated role in “Winter’s Bone” (2010). “The Hunger Games” (2012) was a justifiable hit, and she nailed her starring role perfectly. Here, she lives in a remodeled garage behind her parents’ home, and somehow her shortcomings become her strengths.

Without giving the plot away, it centers around Mr. DeNiro’s foolish financial risks gambled on the Eagles and Ms. Lawrence convincing Mr. Cooper to be her partner in a local dance contest. The events become joined, and seldom will you ever find yourself rooting for contestants who are average at best.

Though it forces us to confront our imperfections, I can assure you that you will be grinning like the proverbial kid in a candy store when leaving the theater.•

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Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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