Thoughtful, surprisingly fast-moving docu overcomes contextual messiness to provide a memorably quirky look at Dzonghsar Khyentse Rinpoche, a reincarnated lhama and highly revered aristocrat in his native Bhutan. Fact Rinpoche also helmed international hit "The Cup" may add appeal to cinephiles.

Thoughtful, surprisingly fast-moving docu overcomes contextual messiness to provide a memorably quirky look at Dzonghsar Khyentse Rinpoche, a reincarnated lhama and highly revered aristocrat in his native Bhutan. Fact Rinpoche also helmed international hit “The Cup” may add appeal to cinephiles, and “Words” will be enjoyed at religious- or ethnic-minded fests and events.

After some background about the forced dissemination of Tibetan Buddhism, helmer Lesley Ann Patten switches, clumsily, to first-person p.o.v., and stays there doggedly, following her putatively perfect teacher on trips to London (where he lives), Munich (for a big soccer match) and Bhutan, where rituals and royal treatment clearly get him down. This is interesting stuff, often well shot and assembled, but Patten’s offscreen narration keeps commenting on the obvious or putting a neurotically self-absorbed spin on things — what looks like a fascinating guy just living his life is frequently interpreted as his determination to thwart her needs as a student and picmaker. Brief visits with “Little Buddha” helmer Bernardo Bertolucci and fighting Buddhist Steven Segal are tendentious but amusing. Other participants could be more clearly identified.

Words of My Perfect Teacher

Canada

Production

A Ziji Pfilm and Television (Halifax) production, in coproduction with the National Film Board of Canada, in association with Vision TV, with assistance from Nova Scotia Film Development Corp., Canadian Television Fund. (International sales: NFB, Montreal.) Produced by Kent Martin, Leslie Ann Patten. Directed, written by Lesley Ann Patten.

Crew

Camera (color), Kent Nason; editor, Peter Giffen, Patten; music, Sting, various; sound, Alex Salter, Jane Porter. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival (Canadian Images) Oct. 4, 2003. Running time: 103 MIN.

With

Dzonghsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Luc Dierkx, Louise Rodd, Leslie Ann Patten, Bernardo Bertolucci, Steven Segal, Gesar Mukfo.
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