If Not Now, Zen?

You’re primed to greet 2009 with a new attitude and a fresh plan; all you need is an inspiring role model. Consider the Tibetan iconoclast Gendun Choephel, who left his boondocks monastery in the 1920s for the big city of Lhasa. Curious, artistic, and thirsty for freedom, Choephel soon wearied of the confines of monastic life and crossed the border into India. In Angry Monk: Reflections on Tibet, Swiss anthropologist and filmmaker Luc Schaedler follows Choephel’s rebellious path, musing all the while on what would have happened if his free-thinking subject’s modern ideas hadn’t been squashed by the Tibetan establishment. (He seems to think China would have taken a more kindly attitude to its neighbor back in the ’50s.) A beautifully observed blend of biography, road movie, history, and travelogue, the film offers a realist’s view of Tibet that’s downright bracing. When the former monk returned home after a decade of dispatches from Calcutta, he was promptly tossed in prison. Alas, it’ll take some doing to find a T-shirt emblazoned with Choephel’s picture, an essential requirement for any role model.
Jan. 1-8, 6:45 & 8:45 p.m.; Jan. 3-4, 1 & 2:45 p.m., 2009

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