Thursday, October 04, 2007

Revenge film 'Milarepa' is flat

By Jeff Vice

Deseret Morning News

Published: October 4, 2007

MILAREPA — ** — Jamyang Lodro, Orgyen Tobgyal, Kelsang Chukie Tethtong; in Tibetan, with English subtitles; rated PG (violence); see Page W2 for theaters

There are a lot of revenge films that could probably benefit from a more low-key, less bombastic approach. "Milarepa" is not one of them.

Subtitled "Magician, Murderer, Saint," the film retells the story of an 11th-century poet and mystic who remains a hero to many Tibetans. Real-life monks make up most of the cast, and the film was co-written and directed by a Tibetan lama, Neten Chokling.

Despite their best intentions, however (proceeds from its theatrical and DVD release will benefit Tibetan orphans), "Milarepa" is surprisingly flat and unexciting.

Chokling's version of events reveal that an unscrupulous uncle (Gonpo) robbed the title character's widowed mother, Kargyen (Kelsang Chukie Tethtong), of her fortune. Enslaved and nearly penniless, Kargyen swears revenge on her greedy relatives and on her fellow villagers, none of whom will come to the struggling mother's aid. Those harsh experiences embolden young Milarepa (Jamyang Lodro), also known as Thopaga. He even seeks out the services of a sorcerer, Yongten Trogyal (Orgyen Tobgyal). Milarepa is hoping the lama will train him, giving him the power to pay back his uncle's cruelty in kind.

There's a good message here, about the perils of revenge-minded thinking, and the low-to-no-budget production boasts some pretty spectacular scenery. But the direction and performances lack energy. Lodro, who was so winning in the 1999 art-house hit "The Cup," practically sleepwalks his way through the main role.

A pre-closing credits crawl reveals that a sequel is planned for 2009. Hopefully the filmmakers will correct some of these problems before then.

"Milarepa" is rated PG for some strong violent action (violent storms and calamities, as well as violence against women). Running time: 90 minutes.


The Conjurer, originally uploaded by Nikonrobin.

I met Rocky aka Sonny Holiday in New Orleans in 1984. Cellini introduced me to him.


street magician, originally uploaded by verite.

Magicians portrayed in Films and on TV

Click pic to enlarge.

Added a movie to our Netflix queue because it starred Forrest Whitaker and I like his acting. A new film I had never heard of called Even Money. It was listed under recent releases. Like the movie CRASH, the story interweaves the random connections that people make. I certainly didn't expect one of the characters to be a washed up magician played by Danny DeVito. I liked the movie, some good killing, interesting story, good cast. Curious how a movie like this goes straight to video.

I study the entertainment industry. More specifically in this town, the television and film industry. Lately Magic has peen popping up here and there on both the big and little screens. The Illusionist, The Prestige, Shade, Chris Angel, Darren Brown, Even Money, an episode of Matlock filmed at the Magic Castle, again on Perry Mason. Yes I think it's cool, but it has caused me to look at how these characters are portrayed in their roles.

Are magicians really so dysfunctional that one might kill another over a secret? This bothers me a bit, that the word magician is brought up when allegations of child molestation are voiced. Would the headline read the same if the guy was a mechanic or a stamp collector. . . I doubt it.

The magician character in Even Money is an insufferable, (as many magicians are), tip grubbing has been, or never was, deluded that he's going to make a come back while being a compulsive gambler, in the end he hangs himself.

What can we a magicians do, to work on our own PR and that of our art, to say to the public personally, "This is my art and this is why it's important to me! My life is not the punch-line to someone else's joke about a guy pulling a rabbit out of a hat."

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Houdini, originally uploaded by Michelle Mia Araujo.

There's No Business Like Show Business

Somethings happening deep inside
I don't know but I want to cry

My ear is dripping
I don't know why

My kids are tripp’en
I want to die

Time flies like a banana
we make our beds and we sleep in them.

We had a Seattle day on Friday
All overcast and shit
never rained but looked ugly.

Days like that are so far and few between
that you feel like you have to soak it up.

Another perfect day today. Blue skies and sunny. Work should be good.

Polly and the Dirty Sexy Money gang continue to work crazy hours trying to make a TV show people will want to watch.

We went to a party last night at a coworkers house in Eagle Rock (near Pasadena). Polly has lots of cool friends. I met the costume designer for Scrubs and the Office. An Assistant Director who once did a movie called Magicians. A composer as well as some of the gang from hair and make up. I’m all questions in these situations. Everyone was really nice about answering all of my questions. It’s been a bit of casual study of the industry. How things get done and who does them. Department heads break down the script for their departments. AD’s break down the script for every department. I love this shit and could talk all of their ears off for hours.

I feel for all these tired, stressed and overworked TV & Film prisoners. They make great money doing what they love, but they trade their lives for it, to live for the weekends, on which they’re too tired to want to do more than catch up on the shit they needed to get done during the week.

Fascinating stuff! And the product is designed to take your mind off your job. Ironic huh?