Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Broad Green Dates 'Knight of Cups' and Two More Releases Broad Green Dates 'Knight of Cups' and Two More Releases Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal Is 'The Revenant' the Most Hellish Shoot of All Time? Is 'The Revenant' the Most Hellish Shoot of All Time? Broad Green Enters Long-Term Home Video Deal with Universal for Burgeoning Slate Broad Green Enters Long-Term Home Video Deal with Universal for Burgeoning Slate Gabriel García Márquez Documentary Coming Soon (Trailer) Gabriel García Márquez Documentary Coming Soon (Trailer) Watch 'SPECTRE' Trailer: James Bond Meets the Author of His Pain Watch 'SPECTRE' Trailer: James Bond Meets the Author of His Pain 'BoJack Horseman,' 'Rick and Morty,' and Our Love/Hate Relationship with TV 'BoJack Horseman,' 'Rick and Morty,' and Our Love/Hate Relationship with TV Why I Can't Wait to See 'Crimson Peak,' Guillermo del Toro's Sumptuous Period Thriller (VIDEO) Why I Can't Wait to See 'Crimson Peak,' Guillermo del Toro's Sumptuous Period Thriller (VIDEO) First Look at Julianne Moore and Ellen Page as a Gay Couple in 'Freeheld' First Look at Julianne Moore and Ellen Page as a Gay Couple in 'Freeheld' Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

Now and Then: 'Decoding Deepak,' or What the Bleep Does He Know?

Photo of Matt Brennan By Matt Brennan | Thompson on Hollywood! October 9, 2012 at 4:04PM

Early in "Decoding Deepak," the titular spiritualist and his filmmaker son float languidly over Thailand's Chao Phraya river delta, on their way to the former's ordination as a Buddhist monk. "Don't try to make sense of it, just roll the cameras and try to keep up," the director sighs. Mission accomplished.
1

There is, as Gotham admits, no making sense of it. The filmmaker prefers to poke at his father's steely enigma than develop the loose ends of the "real" story. In "Decoding Deepak" the person being decoded is the director himself. Archival footage of morning show appearances and spots on Larry King present Gotham, now regretful of those wasted years, lip-syncing his father's lines. He got into broadcast journalism and then documentary filmmaking, he tells us, because he was tired of talking. He wanted to listen.

If only he had listened to his own instincts: hidden within the celebrity worship and meaningless talk of "Decoding Deepak" is the story of a distant father and a wayward prodigal, "The Master" in miniature. In an ingenious moment, Deepak describes the ending he envisions for the film, and Gotham halfway obliges, animating his father's words with stock footage of pulsing cells and bursts of stars. It comes 15 minutes in. Gotham nods at such secret shoals and tacit challenges, lamenting the "script" they always follow, acknowledging that the film may be "about us, about me."   

In the end, though, after inscribing a message for his own son in a book of ancestors tucked amid the narrow passages of a remote Indian town, Gotham relents, and lets his father have the film's last words. Against the tactile firmness of the pen on paper, of a simple accounting of who the Chopras have been, and hope to be, the words seem as meaningless as ever. "Where is the 'I' that really exists?" Deepak asks. "Everywhere." And, in "Decoding Deepak," nowhere.

"Decoding Deepak" is now playing in Santa Monica and New York, and on demand via SnagFilms.

This article is related to: Now and Then, Reviews, DVD and VOD, Genres, Independents, Documentaries


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.