Sunday, April 21, 2024

Ang Lee’s “Pi”: Everyone Wants A Piece of It


Ang Lee says he’s still “tweaking” his new and very glorious “Life of Pi,” which opened the New York Film Festival last night. “There’s still so much to do,” Ang told me. “Color is not right yet, and all the effect aren’t perfect. They can be perfect.” He literally brought what we used to call the “wet print”–now maybe the “just burned DVD” to Alice Tully Hall for the movie’s world presentation.

I think “Pi,” based on the 2001 best selling fable, is a big family hit, a huge advance for 3D–it looks insanely good– and a popular choice for Oscar nominations. It’s a fanciful, exciting, passionate adventure story. For Ang Lee, whose credits include “Crouching Tiger,” “The Ice Storm,” and “Brokeback Mountain,” “The Life of Pi” is a huge achievement. Oh yes, the 3D– the audience actually gasped en emasse right at the beginning–yes, it’s very, very good.

Many celebrities and bold face names poured through the two opening night screenings, and then went on to the party at the Harvard Club. Among them: Sting and Trudie Styler, Carol Kane, and Benjamin Walker. Wendi Murdoch was also in the house, after reportedly attending a cocktail party thrown by ousted 20th Century Fox co-chief Tom Rothman in his Central Park West apartment house– even though it was Wendi’s busband, Rupert, who sandbagged Rothman. Why not?

Richard Pena got a big ovation–he’s leaving his post running the festival and programming it for 25 years. What a ride! Not one but two people are replacing him. That should tell you how hard his job was, and how well he did it!

The movie’s main star is a 19 year old named Suraj Sharma, from Bangalore. He’s never acted before. He got the job when his brother went into audition, the producers spotted him. Just like Dev Patel in “Slumdog Millionaire,” Suraj could be a break out star. Fox should really push him to the teen crowd. His brother is not upset, though. He’s happy to ride the wave, and is looking for his own roles. Suraf’s father, who writes computer software, is hopeful his sons will still go to go to college before Hollywood steals them!


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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