“Life of Pi,” the new movie directed by Ang Lee (“Brokeback Mountain”) and based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, opens the 50th edition of the New York Film Festival tonight, Friday. I saw the movie at a festival screening. I had not read the book, and, quite honestly, had little idea of the story. It’s a castaway tale, about an Indian teenage boy who survives 8 months adrift at sea in a lifeboat with the Bengal tiger from the Pondicherry zoo run by the boy’s father. The movie is in 3-D, which enhances the magnificent visuals: you won’t see a more beautiful big-budget release this year. (Release date in U.S. is November 21.) The storytelling, something at which Ang Lee has always excelled (David Magee wrote the screenplay), is smooth. Where I had trouble was with the tale’s spiritual uplift. For me, it would have been enough to see the spectacular sights in mid-ocean (flying fish, a school of dolphins, a tempest) to feel the emotional/spiritual tug of the story. But Martel and the movie pile on the religiosity. Still: I highly recommend the movie to lovers of special effects.