A journalistic 'Heart'

By CRAIG OUTHIER, The Orange County Register, June 22, 2007

Film is a testament to Mariane Pearl's strength and resolve, but it lacks emotional resonance.

Orange County, CA (USA) -- "A Mighty Heart," based on Mariane Pearl's memoir of the 2002 kidnapping and murder of her husband, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, by Muslim militants, impresses most as a film testament to her rock-solid Buddhist reserve.

<< A MEMOIR: Angelina Jolie portrays Mariane Pearl, who was pregnant when her journalist husband was kidnapped and slain in 2002.

Played by a tanned, kinky-haired Angelina Jolie, she begins the movie as a contented – if somewhat world-weary – pregnant journalist. She ends the movie as a contented – if somewhat world-weary – widowed journalist. Considering the hellish ordeal in between, that's some feat.

It also engenders a fatal numbness in the filmmaking. Director Michael Winterbottom ("The Road to Guantanamo") forgoes any pretense of suspense – Daniel Pearl's death is, to all but the least news-savvy among us, a fait accompli – and instead fashions "A Mighty Heart" as a gritty, politically charged catalog of "moments," with provocative but largely unmoving results.

The story itself is, of course, extraordinary. Early in 2002, with his pregnant wife in tow, Daniel Pearl – investigating the Richard Reid "shoe bomber" case for the Journal – arrives in Pakistan for an arranged meeting with a purported terrorist leader. Jolie's French-accented description of the bustling Pakistani port city of Karachi is particularly foreboding, a place with "so many people, nobody knows how to count."

To Mariane's horror, Daniel – played with easy affability by Dan Futterman ("The Birdcage") – disappears into that humid scrum of humanity, the apparent victim of a premeditated abduction. With artfully erratic, hand-held realism, Winterbottom convincingly portrays the jurisdictional chaos that follows, from a sympathetic Pakistani police captain (Irfan Kahn), an anvil-like FBI agent (Jillian Armenente) and a private American security consultant (Will Patton, perfectly oily).

While images of Daniel – who is Jewish – are cruelly paraded on the Internet with paranoid anti-Semitic rants about his ties to the CIA, the authorities attempt to unravel a fearsome tangle of eyewitness accounts, e-mails and cell phone records to find his whereabouts.

Admittedly, Winterbottom and screenwriter John Orloff ("Band of Brothers") distill potent irony in staging a procedural drama in a land where there's no official procedure. In one bitterly telling scene, Mariane is rendered speechless when the Pakistani interior minister blames Daniel's kidnapping on foreign spies.

But where "A Mighty Heart" should tense up, it often goes slack, with improvised jabber about baby names and table wine. Jolie – whose willingness to take on international politics was established, tiresomely, in "Beyond Borders" – is afforded one, beautifully unguarded scene of grief, but Mariane ultimately feels like an afterthought, Buddhist mood-lighting.

For Winterbottom, a master of the fourth-wall-demolishing pop comedy ("A Cock and Bull Story," "24 Hour Party People"), this is the latest reminder of his serious side. And inferior side, if current trends hold.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv