The Dinner: Beef mushroom burgundy pie and mac and cheese at Pies and Pints , 1215 N.E. 65th St.

The Movie: Life of Pi at


Life of Pies and Pints


The Dinner: Beef mushroom burgundy pie and mac and cheese at Pies and Pints, 1215 N.E. 65th St.

The Movie: Life of Pi at Thornton Place, Northgate

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The Screenplate: Making the vertical escalator trek to the top floor of the four-story Thornton Place 14 just across the street from Northgate Mall, I realized I'd never been so high in a movie theater before. That was just fine considering the magical experience that lay ahead. With Life of Pi, director Ang Lee brings his whimsical imagination to the big screen once again, giving this most cynical of moviegoers a childlike sense of awe not felt since Jurassic Park came out (20 years ago in June!) and seemed

The best thing about Pi, which centers on the adventures of the movie's namesake as told to a blocked author, is that it isn't stupid. It's generally the case that the more heavily computers are used in making a film, the more readily the plot and dialogue suffer. Pi is a study in how the triumphs and tragedies of life led man to devise his religions, and it's a thoroughly intelligent allegory at that. It never gets preachy, either.

From his days as a boy onward, Pi embarks on a quest to find meaning in his life, a journey like a bee's through a meadow, swiping the various flowers of Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism and collecting bits of pollen along the way to make his hive as honey-filled as possible. Seeing Pi tell his story as a peaceable and confident adult, looking back at his younger days, makes you believe he has experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows, but realizes the serenity of acceptance leads to nirvana. The most enlightened creatures seem to arrive at this conclusion, that the world is a river too powerful to manipulate; better to simply control your flow as you float along and enjoy the scenery.

I said that Pi is a study of what makes religion such a natural conclusion to many a wandering mind. Allow me to sermonize. After selling their zoo in his native India, Pi and his family pack up the animals and join them on a freighter headed for Canada and a chance at a better life. Somewhere in the Pacific, a raging tempest tosses the massive liner to and fro, sinking the vessel. Pi makes it onto a lifeboat along with a few animal friends, but his family is taken by the storm. It's times like these that meaningless tragedy is given meaning by turning to God and believing there is a reason this happened. We turn to God after tragedy.

Pi drifts at sea in his well-stocked lifeboat for the better part of a year. The bulk of the movie follows this part of his life. Where once he had a hyena, an orangutan and a broken-legged zebra for shipmates, it's soon just him and a Bengal tiger. Pi wonders if animals have souls. Gods, as seen in Hinduism (which the movie cites as having 33 million deities), often take animal form. We see God in nature every day.

Running low on supplies, and realizing the tiger is growing hungry, Pi realizes the feline's last meal may be "a skinny vegetarian boy." Then a plague of flying fish swarm like locusts out of the sea, filling the boat and the tiger's belly. God can be seen in small miracles. Finally, God can be seen in the fact that sometimes what seems like the impossible is suddenly not, like coming out on the living end of an ocean, a tiger, little food and too much weather. God is seen in big miracles, too.

Life of Pi seeks to explain man's natural tendency to be religious, but stays far away from leveling judgment on whether that is a positive or negative human trait. Though heavily "spiritual" (whatever that means), I saw the film as taking a more logical approach. Through Pi's ups and downs, his peaks of gratitude and depths of despair, one can see how the roughshod daily experiences of people throughout history may have led them to conclude that something bigger is in control, watching over them or, perhaps, out to get them.

Because the idea came instantly to mind, and because it remained there, dangling and glowing like an anglerfish lure, after the movie I headed to Pies and Pints. God can be seen in the flaky, buttery crust of the pot pie I devoured, and he most certainly had a hand in the savory beef burgundy filling. The tenderness of the beef was divine. God seemed to ignore the mac and cheese, though, as it was dry. There is no excuse for serving dry macaroni and cheese. It's obviously been re-heated, Seattle cooks. All you need do is add some milk and butter to revive its former creamy, gooey, cheesy splendor. The price for the two dishes would take a billion or so people on Earth a good month to earn, so there was nothing holy about that, except for the hole you may think lies devilishly deep within the bowels of your pocket. All in all, it was comfort food for a hungry soul and a famished tiger.

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