June 2, 2011

"The Tree of Life"

From my movie review in Taki's Magazine:
The movie industry cares only about money, not art. Right? Yet Terrence Malick’s four-decade-long career demonstrates how much money and talent film folk will lavish on an occasional prodigy. 
The exquisite middle section of the 67-year-old director’s new movie, The Tree of Life, an autobiographical memoir of his adolescence in 1950s Waco, Texas, finally fulfills the hopes Hollywood has invested in Malick since his memorable 1973 debut, Badlands, featuring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek as a thrill-kill couple. Malick is the Red State Coleridge, the philosopher-poet of the Oil Patch.

Read the whole thing there.

A few extra notes on The Tree of Life:

- The idea of Sean Penn playing (in the present) the son of Brad Pitt and and the gorgeous Jessica Chastain (who appear as the parents in the 1950s section of the movie) sounds implausible, but the redheaded starlet has the kind of strong facial features that could, conceivably, be responsible for Sean Penn.

- Malick's own father was variously described as an "Assyrian Christian" or "Chaldean Christian." (Thus, the Garden of Eden reference in the title is all in the family.) There aren't many pictures available of the reclusive Malick, but he looks like a heavier-set version of another half-Arab with fine visual taste, Steve Jobs. [P.S., an Orthodox priest writes in to say that Assyrians don't like to be called "Arabs." He says it's very complicated, but I can see their point: as the Book says in Genesis, they were there first, long before the Arabs arrived.]

- In the movie, Pitt's character describes himself as holder of 27 patents. Online, I can only find ten patents held by Emil A. Malick, but double digits is pretty good, anyway.

- You always hear about the wonders of "Director's Cut," but I'd like to see an "Editor's Cut" of quite a few movies. For example, how much more exciting would a 2-hour version of "King Kong" be than the 3-hour drag Peter Jackson released? You could lose about 45 minutes of "Tree of Life" and the overall movie would be twice as good.

- A director with a similar look to Terrence Malick is Carroll Ballard. Both have only made five movies since the 1970s, and both make gorgeous outdoors films without a lot of dialogue (Here's Spike Jonze's commentary on Ballard's "The Black Stallion.") Ballard paid a lot of dues coming up (he was the second unit director on "Star Wars," which sounds like a pretty good credit to me. I think Ballard's dad was a prominent cameraman in his own day, too.) But Ballard has got typecast as a kids' movie director, not as an art house genius, and has had trouble getting financing, while Malick always has powerful patrons. The link between the two directors is cameraman Caleb Deschanel, who was the DP on Malick's masters thesis short at AFI and then was DP on The Black Stallion

175 comments:

Wes said...

I'm confused. A movie about thrill killers sets you up as a promising artist? Doesn't sound like any poets of oil-patch people I know, but I'll keep an open mind.

Anonymous said...

Terence Malick Films = Pretty Pictures + Simplistic but "DEEP" Ideas. Just throw in languid pacing and you're set.

Hollywood thinks that's art.

Anonymous said...

pretty pictures aren't art?


that's going to be awkward for every pre-duchamp artist

agnostic said...

David Lynch is the poet-philosopher of conservative America, and he did it in only two works -- Blue Velvet and the first season and a half of Twin Peaks.

bd6 said...

Terence Malick Films = Pretty Pictures + Simplistic but "DEEP" Ideas. Just throw in languid pacing and you're set.

Hollywood thinks that's art.


I wish I were as smart as Anonymous Critic Boy so that I could see Heidegger as "Simplistic but "DEEP''. Alas, my limited faculties have always found Heidegger to be rather complicated.

Anonymous said...

I wish I were as smart as Anonymous Critic Boy so that I could see Heidegger as "Simplistic but "DEEP''. Alas, my limited faculties have always found Heidegger to be rather complicated.

That's the ruse. Most people haven't ever even picked up a copy of Being and Time or any other of Heidegger's work, let alone actually slogged through it. So you can just throw in some "deep" voiceovers and pretend that you have understood him.

Harry Baldwin said...

Malick's "Thin Red Line" is one of the worst movies I've ever seen. A boring movie about the invasion of Guadalcanal--who would have thought it possible. I saw it at the theater and when it was over was so exasperated I had to buttonhole a couple of strangers who wee filing out and get them to agree with me that it sucked. I needed to know we all agreed.

The bad poetry being read on voiceover was the dog-dooty icing on the cake.

I occasionally hear people say they think it's brilliant, though.

Glossy said...

I saw the movie last weekend. It's humorless and self-important. Based on what I've seen there, I'm certain that Mr. Malick takes himself very, very seriously. Not all geniuses do. Has it really never occurred to him that life in general is absurd in many ways, has that not made him want to laugh, ever?

But the cinematography is beautiful and some of the family scenes are very touching. The good parts are pretty good and the bad parts are pretty boring. Favorite scene: Brad Pitt teaching his sons to box.

Anonymous said...

"Hollywood thinks that's art."

No, it is art. The Thin Red Line was a masterpiece.

Whiskey said...

Look, parts of nature ARE very beautiful. Pretty much anyone with a visual eye can make pretty movies about beautiful scenes of nature. Which run in hospitals and doctor's offices all the time.

That's not genius. That's merely having a good visual eye, and the technical expertise to capture nature's beauty. Its sterile and meaningless without a story: characters, action, a beginning, middle, and end. Heidigger (the Nazi's favorite philosopher and founder of post-modernism) is not particularly deep. Malick looks like a genius only to Hollywood, filled with HS drop-outs who are very, very pretty.

Whiskey said...

David Lynch's "Straight Story" about the elderly man riding his lawnmower across the Upper Midwest is a genius movie. Without all the folderol of Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks, a straight (sorry) telling of a dying elderly man's struggle to do one last thing.

It is tremendously powerful.

The Thin Red Line was junk. The real battles in and over and offshore Guadalcanal were brutal, the battlefields littered with corpses, flies, stench, etc. and the combat sometimes hand-to-hand (in the Jungle). It was an extraordinary brutal encounter, notable for savagery not beauty, and mind-boggling bravery.

Glossy said...

"pretty pictures aren't art?

that's going to be awkward for every pre-duchamp artist"

That movie went on for more than two hours. Have you ever stared at beautiful pictures (mind out of the gutter - not THAT kind of beautiful) for that long without interruptions? If you have, you're weird. I don't think that's what Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Renoir, etc. had in mind.

A movie needs a plot. There was a plotless stretch in The Tree of Life that seemed to go on for at least half an hour. Someone should tell Mr. Malick that that experiment had failed.

And yes, the first Anonymous is right: all of the "deep" ideas there were simplistic. And old. Beaten-to-death stuff. Why children die, how can God be evil and so on.

Anonymous said...

Malick has yet to make a bad film. Excellent body of work.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you could collect all your movie reviews into a book and publish it in a similar way to the Half-Blood Prince.

Anonymous said...

"The Tree of Life turns into a Waco Episcopalian’s version of the Sistine Chapel. Not even Malick can pull that off."

In other words, Wyeth couldn't paint stars.

Anonymous said...

"David Lynch's "Straight Story" about the elderly man riding his lawnmower across the Upper Midwest is a genius movie. Without all the folderol of Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks, a straight (sorry) telling of a dying elderly man's struggle to do one last thing."

http://www.davidlynch.de/quarterstraight.html

There's a lot more going on in SS than meets the eye.

Anonymous said...

"Steve, you could collect all your movie reviews into a book and publish it in a similar way to the Half-Blood Prince."

Maybe not. Even bigtime critics don't publish compilations anymore. Movie books are dead.

Anonymous said...

I never understood Heidegger, and Malick's main thing seem to be 'white man is evil' anti-americanism. His core view of the world can be found in New World, and it's hokey-pokey-hantas.

Anonymous said...

Tarkovsky film Malick's bigger films resemble is SACRIFICE, which is not one of Tark's best. One of those BIG TESTAMENT movies. I mean please.

Anonymous said...

"You could lose about 45 minutes of 'Tree of Life' and the overall movie would be twice as good."

Dramatically maybe but then the meaning might be lost. I haven't seen it yet, but some movies are not just about storytelling but the larger meaning, and Malick goes for big themes.

Take HUMAN CONDITION by Kobayashi. It might work better as story-telling if each film was reduced to 90 minutes each, but it has go all ten hours to really impress.

My guess is Malick wasn't just trying to tell a story but make the viewer feel 'lost' and 'disoriented' in something beyond our capacity to grasp. So, what might seem extraenous or displeasing about the movie may be central to its overall theme and arc.

Anonymous said...

Look, parts of nature ARE very beautiful. Pretty much anyone with a visual eye can make pretty movies about beautiful scenes of nature. Which run in hospitals and doctor's offices all the time.

That's not genius. That's merely having a good visual eye, and the technical expertise to capture nature's beauty. Its sterile and meaningless without a story: characters, action, a beginning, middle, and end. Heidigger (the Nazi's favorite philosopher and founder of post-modernism) is not particularly deep. Malick looks like a genius only to Hollywood, filled with HS drop-outs who are very, very pretty.


Downplaying nature and denigrating Heidigger (while noting his Nazi connection)? How very Scotch-Irish of you, Whiskey.

Anonymous said...

Is it about dendrophilia?

Steve Sailer said...

"Dramatically maybe but then the meaning might be lost."

Sure, but it's not like Malick is lacking in willing exegetes. Roughly one scholarly book has been published analyzing his films for every film he releases.

When you are as good at showing as Malick is, show, don't tell. Leave that to the critics. Leave out the voiceovers and the "In the Beginning" stuff, and I'd write 3,000 words for him on the Meaning of It All.

Anonymous said...

Take HUMAN CONDITION by Kobayashi. It might work better as story-telling if each film was reduced to 90 minutes each, but it has go all ten hours to really impress.

But there's LOTS of stuff going on in Kobayashi's trilogy, both in plot and character development. It really doesn't dawdle the way Malick's films do. Nor do we get gassy voice-overs.

Thursday said...

1. Yes, editors may be more important than screenwriters in the hierarchy of film artists, just behind directors.

2. Nope, films don't require much of a story to be good. Storytelling is its own thing and isn't strictly necessary. If you watch 2001 for the plot, you might as well hang yourself.

3. Yes, Malick's voiceovers starting with The Thin Red Line are appallingly bad.

Truth said...

That's a hell of a job Malick has; 3 months of work every 10 years? Right up my alley.

Truth said...

"David Lynch's "Straight Story" about the elderly man riding his lawnmower across the Upper Midwest is a genius movie."

Yeah, it's a real mystery why you don't get chicks.

Anonymous said...

Even bigtime critics don't publish compilations anymore. Movie books are dead.

The excellent Dave Kehr just published a collection of his reviews from his Chicago Reader days. I bought it, but I guess I'm a holdout.

Wes said...

I have a feeling I won't like it. Why do men prefer movies like this now? I'm noticing that women like sentimental schlock and men like -- well pure crap that is plot-less and dark. They are like wounded little boys stuck in angry adolescence, eager to whine about their emotional pain and embracing any movie that alludes to it.


I hated No Country for Old Men. Thought the The Big Lebowski was silly at best. Most of the Cohen stuff strikes me as navel gazing. Most of Mel Gibson's stuff is only so-so at best.

I just get the impression that my fellow Americans are a rather ... soulless narcissistic shallow lot now. They come across like potheads that want to be "blown away" in some dreamy hallucination as opposed to actually watching an intelligible movie.

We'll see.

Thrasymachus said...

>>A boring movie about the invasion of Guadalcanal--who would have thought it possible<<

War is actually mind-numbingly boring- months of sitting around or hauling junk around for minutes of action- but I'll allow making a boring movie may not have been the way to make the point.

"Editor's cut"- exactly. Paul Thomas Anderson is another guy who needs serious editing. He seems to get a pass for the same reason Malick does, the money people are in awe of him.

Anonymous said...

"When you are as good at showing as Malick is, show, don't tell."

But his voice-overs are like his images. They don't tell. They wander.

Anonymous said...

"Heidigger (the Nazi's favorite philosopher and founder of post-modernism)"

Not really true. Heidegger joined the Nazis for awhile and Nazis were proud to have one of the greats on their side, but I don't think any Nazi understood him. If anything, Heidegger has been the favorite of leftist thinkers after WWII.

Anonymous said...

Is this like Malick's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE? Remember how that movie takes place in a small town but starts with some cosmic thing about stars in heaven looking down on the fate of man. And then it goes into an alternative reality that's pretty weird for what should be happening in apple pie small town. But what a great movie.

Thursday said...

"Dramatically maybe but then the meaning might be lost."

Malick's gassy voiceovers don't actually mean much. They are pseudo-profound. Its as if he doesn't trust the visual to be enough. He is trying to endow his films with more meaning than they really have, so he has to overegg the pudding. Beautiful things don't need a reason to be beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I saw 'Thin Red Line' at a pretentious 'launch party' my wife got tickets to through business.

My wife and I were straining ourselves trying to hold in the laughter -- the voiceovers in that film are simply beyond parody. In fact, we still occasionally turn to each other and ask 'Whuht is luuuuuuhve?' in the voice of poor misused Jim Caviezal.

My wife then just about had a fight with a friend of hers who insisted it was a work of luminous genius, and that we were simply far too thick to pick up on the themes and symbolism.

But far from it! My problem with Malick is that he simply beats you over the head with those themes (the voiceovers are a symptom of this).

Anonymous said...

Get a load of this:

http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2010/07/who-doesnt-want-to-live-in-this-dream-house/

This may explain why Hollywood liberal types go for Malick. They are into green environmental stuff. They are ultra-modern and ultra-urban but they romanticize nature as a pristine spiritual entity. But their vision of nature isn't real but idealized. It's like the house in picture above. Nature and technology blended together perfectly.

When SWPL types see Malick's take on nature, they see a lost Eden(killed by white man's materialism).
Now, anyone who knows anything about real nature knows it's both beautiful and horrible. Go camping and you'll see stars and all that stuff but also be eaten alive by mosquitos. But SWPL know nature through photogenic PBS docs. And rich ones travel to the loveliest places on Earth and go, 'ahhhhh, nature'. Of course, they have the money and gear to have a pretty painless time.
But most of nature isn't pictorial, lovely, etc. Much of it's pretty grimy, dull, rough, dreary, and painful. If one ever gets lost in a forest, you know what it's like. Or, consider Bogart and Hepburn lost in some leechy swamp in Africa. Not very paradisical.

But Malick's willfully naive vision of nature caters to SWPL fancy notions about nature as paradise. THIN RED LINE has its moments, but its gushy stuff wasn't far above BLUE LAGOON. It was AVATAR for the art-film-crowd. Released in the same yr as SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, it also had snob appeal: 'YOU like SPR, but I prefer TRL, ooh lala.' But TRL wasn't a total loss and had some compelling moments.

But I couldn't get through NEW WORLD, which should be called NEW AGE. What new age spiritualist hokum!! Malick may have studied philosophy, but he's a mytho-romantic-spiritualist, not a thinker. NEW WORLD was one of those stupefying dumb movies only very intelligent people could make. It's Allen Ginsburg seeking god in India. Malick's movies keep the 60s dream alive one way or another for liberals who wonder... why didn't the Woodstock dream work out?

Also, Hollywood is filled with wanna-be-artists who compromised either out of greed or lack of talent; so, by supporting Malick as a pure-saint-artist, they get demonstrate they're not just about dollars and cents. I guess it's like Santana wearing a Che t-shirt.

Anonymous said...

Malick is one of the most geographical directors, by which I mean his movies aren't just about characters but their place in the world. There is a certain geographical pattern or arc to his major works. If we begin with DAYS OF HEAVEN, we see Americans in industrial hellhole escaping westward toward nature. Industry bad, nature good. But even the nature in DAYS OF HEAVEN is compromised by agriculture, commerce, machines, hierarchy. It's too much a world of man, or evil white man. (Malick doesn't present white man as evil-in-intent, just evil-inherent. It's like white man can't help doing evil even if he's trying to do good. He's too rational, too ambitious, too orderly, too judgmental.) His next movie, THIN RED LINE, moves ever westward, to some Pacific Island where time seems to stand still. The natives are shown as living in an Edenic paradise.. but it's being blown to hell by modern man--white men and Japaense men(who took the cue from modern westerners). His next movie NEW AGE goes fully around the world(and a step back in time). It's about whites going westward from Europe to America when it was Eden inhabited by nature-folks--the kind you see in THIN RED LINE.

What do white man bring? Disease, machines, death, excessive order and oppression, worship of a parched puritanical judgmental God. White man being Christian, he believes in Original Sin, believes Eden is lost forever, and sees nature purely in utilitarian terms than something to worship in its own right.

The Eden in America we see in THE NEW WORLD was destroyed and lost... which brings us back to Richard Gere in the opening scene of DAYS OF HEAVEN, working in a steel factory, a hell on Earth.

In this light, the white criminal is somewhat romanticized by Malick. Though Gere is a brute, he is a seeker of freedom from too much order and hierarchy. He's a white man with the ghost of Indian blood fleeing from Order.

TREE OF LIFE brings Malick full circle to roughly the geographical location of his first movie BADLANDS.

BADLANDS presented America as a completely soulless place. Indians are all gone, and order has taken over everything. In this light, Martin Sheen's character has dual meaning. As a robotic sociopath, he's embodies soulless America. But his restlessness is a sign of some rebellious nature-spirit still alive and kicking. He goes about it all wrong, but he simply cannot conform to modern America.

Anonymous said...

And now with TREE OF LIFE, Malick gets to examine his own place in America, the world, and the universe. America isn't enough for him as a subject cuz he sees it as a huge disaster. It may be rich and powerful and all that, but the connection to nature and the cosmos has been lost. And Christianity is horrible since its monomaniacal diety is the judgmental and anti-idolatrous Jehovah who filled man with shame, guilt, and sin, which all led to self-loathing, which then led white men abusing others as they'd been abused by God. It's like an abused child become abusive to other children. Judeo-Christian tradition abuses the human soul, destroys it. Instead of opening man's eyes to joy, beauty, the images and music of life, it makes man see nature as evil and fallen, the domain of the serpent, of seductive pleasures that lead to sin and idolatry. Thus, white man defines himself against nature, creates a world apart nature, and then expands this soulless artificial world at the expense of nature and nature's children, the noble savages.

Personally, I say gimme a break. If Malick wants to wipe his ass with poison ivy than with toilet tissue, I say go right ahead. But of course, he can wax romantic about nature precisely because he uses the charmin.

Imamura's PROFOUND DESIRE OF THE GODS and BALLAD OF NARAYAMA.. now those are powerful, poetic, and truthful movies about man and nature. No gushy-wushy romantic BS there.
Interestingly enough, though Penn seems to be a big fan of Malick, his movie INTO THE WEST acknowledged both the allure of nature and its dangers. No such from Malick whose postcard pictorialism makes my eyes roll.
(By the way, look closely at nature, and it's constantly at war with itself. Life consumes other life, so Malick can take his nature-harmony stuff and shove it.)

Anonymous said...

"Take HUMAN CONDITION by Kobayashi. It might work better as story-telling if each film was reduced to 90 minutes each, but it has go all ten hours to really impress.

But there's LOTS of stuff going on in Kobayashi's trilogy, both in plot and character development. It really doesn't dawdle the way Malick's films do. Nor do we get gassy voice-overs."

Is that the hot dog eating guy? He really is multiple-talented.

Dan in DC

Anonymous said...

Here's a piece by Joan Mellen on DAYS.

http://film.tamu.edu/Documents/FilmStudiesWorkingGroup/Spiraling%20Downward.pdf

She's the author of couple of excellent books on Japanese cinema in the 70s, but what a nagging self-righteous PC leftist. Actually even in hte 70s, her interviews with Japanese directors tended to be heavy on the nagging feminist side.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that DAYS OF HEAVEN is dull. It moves pretty briskly, and there's a good deal of tension from the love triangle. And things are always happening. Linda Manz having fun, the courtship and marriage, the mutual suspicions, the jealousies, the fire, the murder, the escape, etc. Gere looks good, Shepard looks striking, Adams is quite lovely.

The real problem is the excessive artiness where even the most mundane things have a painterly quality about them. The movie's intoxicated with this stuff.

Also, Malick seems to wanna have it both ways. His view of the American past is both damningly critical and gushingly nostalgic.

jb or mz's black hoodie said...

Why get all peevish about a guy who majored in Philosophy waxing Philosophical in his movies?

Remind me never to direct a movie that Sailer can review.

P.S. Do you think excelling in one field of endeavor inhibits someone's ability to perform well in another i.e. the abstracted reasoning required for philosophical analysis vs the obsessive attention to sensory detail typically required for creating art?

Steve Sailer said...

You would think so, but for Malick, he's real good at showing, not telling. But then he feels compelled to tell anyway.

Anonymous said...

I apologize for saying 'simply' all the time in my comment that went up at 10:06. Just thinking about 'The Thin Red Line' puts me in a stupor.

Anonymous said...

Is that the hot dog eating guy?

Yes, that's the hot-dog-eating guy.

Anonymous said...

"You would think so, but for Malick, he's real good at showing, not telling. But then he feels compelled to tell anyway."

But in THIN RED LINE and NEW WORLD, I would have preferred if he had told more and showed less.
Especially with digital camera technology, directors shoot forever and wanna show more and more, but sometimes less is more. His best BADLANDS showed a lot less and said a lot more.

I didn't need to SEE all that gushy stuff in movies like TRL and NW that just went on and on forever. Malick writes and directs movies--at least since THIN RED LINE--as if he's talking to himself. He's zonked out in some lala-land, and someone should kick him in the ass to wake him out of his dippy slumber which isn't really much more than art-film-forrest-gumpisms. It's one thing for an artist to pull the audience into a trance but quite another to fall into some private solipsistic trance and ignore the audience. I think the fool auto-hypnotized himself.

Worse, at least he had real characters in BADLANDS and DAYS OF HEAVEN.
There isn't anyone in THIN RED LINE or NEW WORLD that could be called a character. They are thought pieces or pawns, musings with legs, symbols, essences. Personifications of psychological or spiritual states than flesh and blood people. Some directors can actually pull this off, but not Malick.
I'll never forget that old overseer in DAYS OF HEAVEN but I don't recall who was who or what was what in THIN RED LINE. And for a bunch of guys at war, they sure have a lot of time to space out and wander into poetic/philosophical reveries. Walking out of the theater, I overheard a WWII vet say to his wife, 'baloney, it was nothing like that.'

I don't know if there really is a tree in TREE OF LIFE but there is one in Tark's THE SACRIFICE, and it highlights what's wrong with movies like this. They are so infatuated with their holiness that the metaphorical is rendered literal. In SACRIFICE, they plant and water a dead tree. As a metaphor, it can serve as a poetic expression about life and death, faith, miracle, hope. But as a literal manifestation, it's just dumb. I see the same problem in NEW WORLD. Indians as nature-children might work in poems, songs, paintings, or expressive forms of cinema. But when a movie as drenched in realism as NEW WORLD keeps piling on new agey hokum about Indians literally as the children of Eden, for heaven's sakes. Dumb dumb. At this point, Malick confuses the metaphysical with the physical.

PS. Tark's most autobiographical film is THE MIRROR, which is also his most unwatchable.

Anonymous said...

"Why get all peevish about a guy who majored in Philosophy waxing Philosophical in his movies?"

He gives philosophy a bad name. So does Godard in his later movies. I suspect they've wrapped something really simple in layers of pseudo-profundities.
There's nothing worse than an artist's ego being inflated with hot air. Fellini lost it after 8 1/2 too.

TH said...

After Badlands, Malick delivered one of the prettiest (if dullest) films ever, Days of Heaven (1978).

Days of Heaven was never dull, but Badlands was. I don't understand the romance about stupid criminals.

I liked The Thin Red Line, although I admit that the perspective that it's pretentious crap is a valid one, too. The New World bored me to tears.

Anonymous said...

Whiskey on Heidegger:
Overrated philosopher. Not a patch on the neocon giants.
Gilbert P.

Anonymous said...

The only other living filmmaker who reminds me of Malick is the Hungarian director, Bela Tarr. In style if not in subject matter. Humans, their lives and the moral choices they face, are his subject matter.

Lots of lovingly shot, long takes. And on length he's got Malick beat by a long shot. His 1994 film Satan's Tango, about the slow collapse of a collective farm under communism, is over 7 hours long.

Here's a link to the opening scenes of his 2000 film, Werckmeister Harmonies. It's a great introduction to his style and sensibility:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcDVjCNTVP8&feature=related

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's a real mystery why you don't get chicks.

A silly comment for the normally on-point Thursday. The Straight Story was a very good movie, and I don't see why acknowledging that should have any bearing on one's ability to "get chicks" (or why that should be a theme at all in this discussion).

Anonymous said...

Badlands was visually haunting and as one of the previous comments stated he is very "Geographically" rooted in his films. The landscapes in Badlands attest to that.

And I mean those guys who think Malick is all "White guys are bad" are reading too deeply into the New World. I don't think he thinks about the racial other all that much honestly. He may have a conception of the fallen nature of man in general and to Malick "Fallen Man" is "White Man", but don't confuse it with tawdry identity politics. It's more puritanical than that.

I mean, films don't need a tight plot, and non-stop action to be great. I actually don't mind voice overs if they don't distract from the overall Mise-en-scène and is not just some filler to tie you from one jagged plot element to the other.

Duncan Idaho

Tommy Chong said...

I just get the impression that my fellow Americans are a rather ... soulless narcissistic shallow lot now. They come across like potheads that want to be "blown away" in some dreamy hallucination as opposed to actually watching an intelligible movie.

Wes, please tell us some names of movies you consider intelligent?

Ray Sawhill said...

Terrific piece by Steve.

That said, Malick's movies don't do a thing for me. I don't quite get why he doesn't just make Natl Geographic nature docs. And I don't quite get either why anyone thinks his movies are any better than Natl Geographic nature docs, many of which have far more astounding footage than Malick has ever caught, in addition to some interesting information.

Aside from "Badlands," do his films have ANY fictional life (or fictional impact) at all? Not for me. For me, they're like scrapbooks of snapshots and scribbles by someone enamored of Bill McKibben. Color me unintrigued, as well as unimpressed. I suppose the fragile-effulgent, poetic-luminous thing he sometimes gets going is OK, but it also strikes me as pretty familiar and very precious. I mean, seriously: when I watch Malick's later films I feel like I'm watching wispy poetic montages by an over-coddled undergrad. They're all vision and no story -- why would I be bothering with that?

Necessary disclaimer: Not that it isn't OK (and kinda cool) that he makes these things, not that it isn't OK (and kinda cool) that people enjoy 'em, and not that it isn't fun that he's getting away with doing his thing in the Big Bad Movie Industry ... I applaud all that. I just don't enjoy his films much, and I marvel at a lot of the big claims people make for them.

David said...

>My guess is Malick wasn't just trying to tell a story but make the viewer feel 'lost' and 'disoriented' in something beyond our capacity to grasp.<

1. Is this purpose proper to the film form?

2. Is it a worthwhile?

2. How is it distinguishable from sheer incompetence?

"Lost and disoriented in something beyond our capacity to grasp" is a rather easy thing to achieve. What takes work is avoiding this.

Anonymous said...

One thing for sure, TREE OF LIFE has to be most pompously innocent title in movie history.

Anonymous said...

Malick is from Bartlesville, Oklahoma. I knew one guy at Harvard from Oklahoma. He was from Bartlesville. Is that where all the rich oil types live?

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1966/1/3/harvard-breaks-rhodes-record-committee-selects/


I knew Caleb Deschanel's daughter Emily in the early aughts, as one of a pack of struggling female BU theater grads. Now the others have all disappeared and Emily is on Fox every night as "Bones." Is that talent or nepotism? Probably both. Her sister Zooey after all successful in music too. Talent really runs in families.

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dasein#Original_meaning.2C_and_Heidegger.27s_interpretation

What the hell, does any of this make sense?

From Wiki:

"Heidegger used the concept of Dasein to uncover the primal nature of "Being" (Sein). Like Nietzsche, Heidegger criticized the notion of substance, arguing that Dasein is always a being engaged in the world. The fundamental mode of Being is not that of a subject or of the objective but of the coherence of Being-in-the-world. This is the ontological basis of Heidegger's work. There can be no Cartesian "abstract agent" - the agent emerges out of his environment.
On Heidegger's account, traditional language, logical systems, and beliefs obscure Dasein's nature from itself. Beings are Dasein even when they are ontologically wrapped up in a tradition which obscures the authentic choice to live within and transmit this tradition. In this case Dasein still authentically chooses the tradition when it is confronted by a paradox within the tradition and must choose to dismiss the tradition or dismiss the experience of being confronted with choice."

So, what was Heidegger saying? That he wasn't interested in being as 'conscious awareness'
(subjectivity)nor as in 'things existing in the material world'(objectivity)?
Was he saying the division of 'being' into those two categories or dichotomies was like the misconceived notion of body and soul(or body vs soul) when in fact body and soul are a single unity? So, the over-intellectualization of Western philosophy(and its long tradition) violated the AUTHENTIC or primal unity of consciousness and reality? Western man sees the world in terms of "I" and the "world", or "I" vs the "world" when he really should understand "being" as the unity of consciousness with the world. So, one is not subjectively aware of the objective world; instead, 'authentic being' means the consciousness as part of the world and the world as part of consciousness. To be authentic means unity. Problem of Western philosophy is it's synthetic since it artificially classifies the world in terms of separate categories: consciousness, material world, world of man, realm of nature, politics, culture, elite, the people.
The unity of true or authentic being has been broken, violated.
This notion of unity-authenticity, if Heidegger really meant it this way, may explain why he was initially drawn to Nazism and Nazis found him useful(for a while). The organicism at the core of Nazism didn't see the nation in terms of separate classes, interests, ruler and ruled, past and present and future. Instead, there was a united 'authentic' sense of Germanness where everyone was part of the unity at every level--intellectually, culturally, socially, politically, etc. As Hess says in the closing moments of TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, 'Hitler is Germany, Germany is Hitler'. And presumably, Hitler is the German people and German people are Hitler. And Nazism fuses the German past with German present with the German future. The 1000 yr Reich. And 'bourgeois', 'proles', and other class distinctions have no place in authentic Germany where all are part of the whole. Jews are the enemy of this authenticity since (1) they cannot be a part of authentic German being (2) both capitalist and communist Jews divide the world into exploiters and exploited (3) Jews are cosmopolitan and rootless, which means they have no authentic bond to anything in this world (4) Judaism separates the world in terms of one true God in Heaven and the fallen material world.

Anonymous said...

But, I can see how Heideggerism can appeal to liberals like Malick too. Though Jonah Goldberg is an idiot, his book LIBERAL FASCISM was correct to find parallels between fascist authenticism and liberal authenticism. The 60s counter-culture was about rediscovering that lost connection between man and nature, between corrupted western man and the still innocent third world man(Obama kinda plays on this with this Afro-Indonesian authenticism). Presumably, third world peoples, though or precisely because they were primitive, were more authentic cuz they lived closer to nature(or had a spiritual view of nature as the essence of being, whereas Western spiritulism 'dichotomizes' spirit and materiality; thus, Western man doesn't see nature as something organic and alive but something to exploit, use, and abuse--which was also the silly point of Jarmusch's DEAD MAN).
NEW WORLD is a liberal fascist or leftist-Heideggerian movie, one might say. It's not Marxist--another variation of Western materialism. Instead, it romanticizes the Indians cuz they're authentically and organically immersed in the reality of true being. They are nature, nature is them.

So, even as Heidegger was super-intellectual and owed his erudition and insight to the long tradition of philosophy, he was also anti-philosophical and anti-intellectual. He was trying to reclaim the true or pure being from the mass of misconceived notions of being as developed in the West.

Anonymous said...

Nazism too was contradictory. On the one hand, it claimed to represent the best of the West. Yet, it also tried to abolish time. The next 1000 yrs would not be of 'progress' but true Germanness. Nazism wasn't opposed to change but all changes would be an organic growth and manifestation of German soul and genius--the Tree of German Being, united from its deepest root to its highest branches. (There is a giant World Tree in Germanic mythology and of course in AVATAR too, another dipshit liberal fascist movie). The everlasting unity. And since authentic-being isn't about "me and the world" or "me against the world", individualism would be useless in the Nazi order. It would be a violation of true being. True being means inseparably belonging in the world. Belonging to the nation(Nazism) or to nature(Malickism). Individualism and subjectivity are illusions created by false concepts. Only via authentic being can man escape from alienation. (Of course, despite the organicism in Nazi ideology, it was in practice about as robotic and lifeless as a movement could be. Nazi heart was hard as a rock. Malick's heart is soft as lard. Human organs should be firm yet supple.)

Prior to reading this review, I had no idea Malick was a Heideggerian, but then he was never one of my favs. I thought he just drank too much New Age Kool Aid, but then, I'm sure there is an indirect link between Heideggerism and New Age flakiness.
Malick's Heideggerism may explain the voice-over narrations. Actually, I didn't mind them in BADLANDS and DAYS OF HEAVEN. In BADLANDS, the childlike fairytale narration serves as an ironic counterpoint to what is actually happening. And Linda Manz's narration in DAYS OF HEAVEN is simple and earthy, contrapunctual to the visual splendor and structural complexity of the plot. It is also precocious, refreshing as images and perceptions captured by a child but dead to weary adults. Manz reminded me of the young Jodie Foster.

But maybe irony was not the intention on Malick's part. Consider THIN RED LINE with its insufferaly earnest narrations(for me at least). They weren't so much voice-over-narration but voice-inner-narration. Perhaps, Malick feels the conventional voice-over-narration(especially by omnipotent third person)violates the authenticity of being. It creates the impression of reality-of-authority vs reality-of-existence. The conventional narration has authority OVER the reality we are shown. It's the all-knowing(or better-knowing)mind organizing the facts of reality. They are also separated IN TIME from the reality we're seeing. In CASINO for example, the narrations carry the sense of after-the-fact knowledge(or even wisdom). In contrast, the narrations in DAYS OF HEAVEN and THIN RED LINE have the feel of unmediated, unprocessed, and fresh-baked awareness of being. They're not assembled or organized thoughts but thoughts captured just as they're pouring out of authentic souls.

Anonymous said...

In THIN RED LINE, the narrations aren't meant to be conscious thoughts for us to hear but authentic thought-feelings(theelings?) to be sensed through our hearts. I think in both imagery and sounds, Malick is trying to bypass our eyes and ears. He wants to convey a sense of deeper unity where we are all part of a dream called authentic reality. So, the images seek to hypnotize, and the narration functions as a kind of subconscious-ventriloquist act; we are supposed to feel that it's the voice emanating from within our own souls than something told through our ears.
It's as though Malick wants us to feel than hear the narration, to maintain the authentic unity between thought and reality than create the conventional sense of thought over reality or thought about reality--what we get in conventional voice-over narration. Authentic-being means the unity of things, which includes everything from our hometown to the entire planet to the entire cosmos.

Maybe another artist could have pulled it off but the voice-inner-narration in THIN RED LINE made me sick, as if I'd swallowed a bowl of stale philosophy. I haven't read James Jones novel but I've a feeling he was more of a straight storyteller than a dingbat 'philosopher'. APOCALYPSE NOW is ridiculous too for wrapping the comic book material in cosmic text philosophizing.

I wish Malick would come back down to earth like Wernor Herzog. Though Herzog did make some interesting movies in the 70s, he was after the Great White Whale called the TRuth and so his movies got weighed down with pregnant meaning.
In contrast, GRIZZLY MAN, RESCUE DAWN, and BAD LIEUTENANT are full of life. They may not be GREAT movies but they are eminently watchable and enjoyable.

Kylie said...

So Steve is of the "If you've seen one blade of grass waving in the breeze, you've seen them all" school of film criticism. I'm surprised no one has flung the p-word* at him yet.

I love Days of Heaven. I love the way it captures moments and moods. I love feeling close to nature without running the risk of bugbites or frostbite. Perhaps part of Steve's imperviousness to its charm is his recognition that the plot owes something to Henry James's The Wings of the Dove.

I tried to watch The Thin Red Line but frankly, ten minutes of staring at the same wave blades of grass was nine minutes too many, even for me, a diehard Nature and Art lover of the Romantic school.

I refused to see The New World for reasons that will be obvious to anyone who has bothered to read my comments here.

Malick seems to have what I would call a reverence for life, at least, those aspects of life that please his exquisitely refined sensibilities. But that's about it.

In recent years, the best movie I've seen that actually says something is The Prestige. In its harrowing depiction of the dehumanizing effects of obsession, it reminds me of Moby Dick (yes, I have read this in its entirety) and is far more accessible.

Other than that, David Lynch is your best bet if you want to watch visually beautiful movies that actually say something. You can't beat his homages to smalltown America.

"David Lynch is the poet-philosopher of conservative America, and he did it in only two works -- Blue Velvet and the first season and a half of Twin Peaks."

Exactly.



*philistine

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLPe0fHuZsc

These just look like outtakes of civilian life 'flashbacks' or 'memory wanderings' in THIN RED LINE, what with the swings, green lawns, waify women, precious imagery, dreamy daze. Worst of all, people say even the most mundane things as if they're reciting poetry.
Norman Rockwell meets Heidegger meets Olaf Stapledon. Oy vey.

Anonymous said...

Hey, it's 2001 crossed with RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT. Gag.
Calendar art as cosmo-philosophy.

Now, what kind of a person would mythologize one's own life this way? This movie would even make Hitler, Mao, and Cameron blush.
This Malick guy stuided some philosophy and made a handful of movies, yet he's supposed to be the ultimate gift to mankind as sage-poet-visionary-thinker-renaissance-man-eternal-soul-Buddha-Jesus-starman, etc. Well, well, now we know what happened to the StarChild in 2001. He was Malick.
THUS SPAKE MALICKUSTRA.

Anonymous said...

If a grizzly bear is reading isteveblog, please devour Malick the malicious flake.
This is like a $50 million(or maybe $100 million dollar)movie on blowing dandelions. Ohhhhhh, how lovely and meaningful.

beowulf said...

I always thought Malick directed Heaven's Gate. Checking wiki, I see that bomb was actually dropped by Michael Cimino. Looking at the posters it kind of looks like Days of Heaven (one is about ranchers and the other is about farmers, my bad).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven%27s_Gate_%28film%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Days_of_Heaven

James Kabala said...

I think the question of what a shorter King Kong would be like was already answered in 1933.

Seriously, though, it often strikes me how movies of the black and white era feel little need for exposition or what we would today call "backstory." In the original King Kong, it isn't even quite clear whether Carl Denham's movies are supposed to be fictional or documentary. I haven't seen the Jackson version, but from what I hear the padding is mostly due to lengthy pre-ape backstory.

Anonymous said...

Though Malick seems to be channeling Tarkovsky on some level, here's the difference. Tarkovsky had great love and reverence for his father and felt a great unity with Mother Russia. You can see this in SOLARIS where the character goes way out into space but thinks only of his life back in Russia. Or in the MIRROR.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESKrPz5LSXo&feature=related

Judging by the trailer of TREE OF LIFE, it seems Malick had father-problems, which makes him closer to Ingmar Bergman and Paul Schrader(who grew up in a strict Calvinist household and didn't see a movie until he was 17.) I think Schrader as also a philosophy student.
For Tarkovsky, his father represented the nobility and strength of Russia while Bergman, Schrader, and perhaps Malick saw their father as Old Testament angry god figures.

Maybe Tarkovksy felt soul-fully closer to Russia because Russian-ness was characterized as much by Eternal nature as by civilization. Prior to communism, Russian culture was defined by unity of past and present, of man and nature, which is why both ANDREI RUBLEV and STALKER are steeped in both Christian tradition and pagan-nature-worship.
An eternalist could feel at home with Russia.

But America was defined by change and man's total mastery over nature and his own destiny. Man is not part of the larger unity but the creator of new possibilities. But while this may be interesting for guys like Steve Jobs, most Americans(without brains to be innovative)have been reduced to consumer junkies hooked to pop culture. (So, a cop says of the killer in BADLANDS that he looks like James Dean.)

Another crucial difference between Tark and Malick. Tark, though not without ego, didn't conflate his consciousness with cosmic truth. Malick, on the other hand, sees no difference between his massive ego and the universe.
Also, nature in Tarkovsky's movie has depth and texture, horrors as well as beauty. But nature in Malick's movies are, for all their beauty and wondrousness, antiseptic, almost airbrushed of all its 'blemishes' which give it character. It's non-stop pictorialism, collection of greatest hits of nature. It's cake made of nothing but cream.

beowulf said...

The first two episodes of the HBO miniseries The Pacific is about the 1st Marine Division landing and fighting in Guadalcanal (the Army showed up about 2 months into the 6 month campaign). Much better than The Thin Red Line.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pacific_%28TV_miniseries%29

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLPe0fHuZsc

"Unless you love... your life will flash by"

Oh goo goo. Now, I know the great meaning of life. Why doesn't Malick go work for Hallmark cards for Chrissakes?

BARAKA may be little more than a spiritualist-travelogue but at least it's honest.

Does Malick even know that he's catering to the fancy-pantsy haute-consumerism of the uber-SWPL crowd for whom spirituaity is a travelogue? This goo-goo spirituality-philosophy is appealing because of its ultimate Oprah-esque painlessness. It's a movie as a fantasy-womb into which we can crawl back into and go gaga-googoo.
The mentality behind this movie isn't much different than this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDW2SRdV3a0&feature=related

There was something along this line in Bergman's SAWDUST AND TINSEL what the clown relates a dream where he shrank in size and entered into the womb of his wife and vanished into eternal sleep. While Bergman acknowledges this infantile-cosmic wish in the human psyche, he also knows the real world is for adult minds.
But TREE OF LIFE is promises eternal bliss back in the womb of the cosmos. For all his intellectualism, Malick is an adult baby. He's peddling infantellectualism.

Okay, maybe I shouldn't judge the entire movie based on the trailer, but it nearly made me puke.

Anonymous said...

There aren't many pictures available of the reclusive Malick, but he looks like a heavier-set version of another half-Arab with fine visual taste, Steve Jobs.

They're also both con artists who've convinced everyone that they're geniuses.

Anonymous said...

"They're also both con artists who've convinced everyone that they're geniuses."

If Malick is a con-artist, he one of those fools who actually believe in their own con, like Tom Cruise really goes for Scientology.

Anonymous said...

"people say even the most mundane things as if they're reciting poetry."

I love how all the Roger Eberts on here criticize Malick without putting him in the context of Hollywood at large and the immense amount of fecal matter put out yearly by the big studios. Malick may be self-indulgent and egotistical but rarely has a director delved into the inner lives of characters as he does, much like a novelist. Having worked in Hollywood for 10 years as a script doctor, I can tell you this is no easy feat.

Anonymous said...

If Rudolf Hess had been a cinephile: "MALICK IST COSMOS, COSMOS IST MALICK!!"

Time to start up Malick Youth, but then Hollywood owns that already. They have their flaky fuhrer.

Anonymous said...

"Malick may be self-indulgent and egotistical but rarely has a director delved into the inner lives of characters as he does, much like a novelist."

I can do without the Malick Phallic 'delving' into the holes in our souls.
And I don't want 'hope and change' from movies too. Enough already.

Truth said...

"The Straight Story was a very good movie, and I don't see why acknowledging that should have any bearing on one's ability to "get chicks" (or why that should be a theme at all in this discussion)."

You either don't come to this board much, or you got slapped accross the temple by a "literal" stick.

Anonymous said...

Malick one better than Obama.

DREAMS FROM MY FATHER, MOTHER, AND THE COSMOS TOO WHILE WE'RE AT IT.

Anonymous said...

Me thinks Malick turned ecology into egology.

Anonymous said...

I meant Malick GOES on better than Obama. Just thinking about the guy makes me think in babytalk.

Anonymous said...

Malick may be self-indulgent and egotistical but rarely has a director delved into the inner lives of characters as he does, much like a novelist.

Funny, then, how all his characters are exactly alike: sophomoric, inarticulate "philosophers" bloviating on their "deep" feelings about life and the cosmos.

Anonymous said...

Sontag wrote an essay called AGAINST INTERPRETATION, so maybe Malick felt compelled to make a movie that might be called AGAINST COMPREHENSION.

Anonymous said...

David Lynch + Stanley Kubrick = Terence Malick in my humble opinion.

Anonymous said...

sophomoric, inarticulate "philosophers" bloviating on their "deep" feelings about race, IQ, immigration, gender, and movies.

Anonymous said...

"Not really true. Heidegger joined the Nazis for awhile and Nazis were proud to have one of the greats on their side, but I don't think any Nazi understood him. If anything, Heidegger has been the favorite of leftist thinkers after WWII."

Nazism was a lefty movement, bro. National socialism, y'know?

Geez...

Anonymous said...

Joel Coen and Cormac McCarthy had the following conversation about Terrence Malick in an interview with Time magazine:

Cormac McCarthy: Days of Heaven is an awfully good movie.

Joel Coen: Yeah. Well, he is great, Terry Malick. Really interesting.

Cormac McCarthy: It's so strange; I never knew what happened to him. I saw Richard Gere in New Orleans one time, and I said, "What ever happened to Terry Malick?" And he said, "Everybody asks me that." He said, "I have no idea." But later on I met Terry. And he just--he just decided that he didn't want to live that life. Or so he told me. He just didn't want to live the life. It wasn't that he didn't like the films. It's just, if you could do it without living in Hollywood ...

Joel Coen: One of the great American moviemakers.

Kylie said...

"Malick may be self-indulgent and egotistical but rarely has a director delved into the inner lives of characters as he does, much like a novelist."

What novelist would that be? Barbara Cartland?

"Having worked in Hollywood for 10 years as a script doctor, I can tell you this is no easy feat."

Having watched the dreck that's come out of Hollywood in the last 10 years as a reluctant viewer, I can tell you this is no easy feat, either. At least you were getting paid to do it.

(I do it only because my husband likes it.)

Anonymous said...

"Not really true. Heidegger joined the Nazis for awhile and Nazis were proud to have one of the greats on their side, but I don't think any Nazi understood him. If anything, Heidegger has been the favorite of leftist thinkers after WWII."

Yup they would have perfectly understood if they weren't so far to the right.

Anyway, bigger problem with german philosophers: german or philosophy?

Anonymous said...

"gorgeous Jessica Chastain"

You gotta be kidding me. She looks slightly more attractive than the hideously ugly Cate Blanchette.
Is she Irish btw? What weird skin.

Anonymous said...

"Heidigger (the Nazi's favorite philosopher and founder of post-modernism) is not particularly deep."

No wonder beta males love love love love it, like hitler for e.g.

Thursday said...

Got to agree with McCarthy that Days of Heaven is his best movie.

Thursday said...

Badlands compares pretty badly to other lovers on the lam movies like Gun Crazy, They Live By Night or even Bonnie and Clyde.

Anonymous said...

Is TREE OF LIFE kinda like BEING HUMAN?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Being_Human_(film)

Anonymous said...

Having worked in Hollywood for 10 years as a script doctor

Oh, so YOU'RE one of the people responsible for all the garbage on our screens today. Thanks, buddy. Heckuva job!

Anonymous said...

"Cormac McCarthy: But later on I met Terry. And he just--he just decided that he didn't want to live that life. Or so he told me. He just didn't want to live the life. It wasn't that he didn't like the films. It's just, if you could do it without living in Hollywood"

Well, good for Terry not to have lived the Hollywood life; so what did he do?
It seems he didn't live ANY KIND OF LIFE AT ALL but 'lived' in his own mumbo-jumbo musings about the soul and universe and blah blah.

So, finally when he returned to cinema, he had no life story to tell since he didn't live one. He probably just hung around college town cafes and thought and talked pompous crap like academics are privileged to do.

So, we get philosophical musings than life stories. A life unexamined is a poor one, but so is a mind unlived, which shows in the films of Malick. Only an intellectual innocently floating in infantile fantasies can concoct something as ludicrous as NEW WORLD. Malick's faux-virginalism is so precious. It's like... 'my soul is just too pure to get laid by life.'

Well, whoopie doo, fella!

Truth said...

"I love how all the Roger Eberts on here criticize Malick without putting him in the context of Hollywood at large and the immense amount of fecal matter put out yearly by the big studios."

Excellent point. Taken in context, all of the artsy-fartsy directors, Malick, Wenders, all of the way back to Welles do an excellent job, their misses far exceed most of today's guys-lloking-cool and chix-in-bikini's fare that is produced today.

I'm not a huge Woody Allen fan, but his worst efforts, on a year-in-year-out basis is better than 95% of competing films.

Anonymous said...

"David Lynch + Stanley Kubrick = Terence Malick in my humble opinion."

Nah, TREE OF LIFE looks like WONDER YRS(TV show)and Bob Greene columns made into a art film by a fake auteur like that moron who made NEVER LET ME GO.
Soooooooo precious, goo goo.

Anonymous said...

"Taken in context, all of the artsy-fartsy directors, Malick, Wenders, all of the way back to Welles do an excellent job"

When was Welles ever artsy fartsy? He was a pusher, not a gusher. A titan, not a airy-fairy.

That said, I still stand by Malick's first two films, whatever their flaws. But I think he really jumped the shark and galaxy this time.

Anonymous said...

Americans have the best philosophy.

We don't need "I think therefore I am" or some crap about Dasein because we got
"I yam what I yam, Popeye the Sailor Man". In other words, "I am me." No shit.

And instead of European philosophy about action, like existentialism(where the guys are too busy thinking what to do to ever do anything), we have "ya gotta do what ya gotta do" by Rocky Balboa.

That's the kind of clear thinking we need to return to.

Anonymous said...

"Americans have the best philosophy."

and then they ran out of oil.

Wes said...

Like I said, we have a lot of wounded "men" in America that like this kind of stuff. The woozy, unfocused ponderings of a pre-adolescent having a fever-dream. This passes for art and movies? David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick too, are you kidding me?

Something happened starting with the baby boomers, some narcissistic preoccupation with fuzzy sensations as opposed to complete thoughts. They have become creatures incapable of coherent thought or anything as complex as a "plot".

Look at Forest Gump, another stupid movie that elevated the confused wanderings of low IQ people for serious thought (confused wanderings of low IQ people actually describes most of baby boomer and later "men").

not a hacker said...

Well, the last movie I saw was "Waking Ned Devine," so I had to google Jessica Chastain, and yeah, that is one seriously hideous woman. There must be 5,000chicks in Hollywood saying "why her?"

Anonymous said...

DAY OF THE OUTLAW by Andre De Toth. Now, there's a real movie made by a real man, not some manchild.

Who wants Compassionate Cosmology?

dok101 said...

Hi Steve. If you or any of your readers wish to read about the genetics of Assyrian Christians, Razib Khan recently covered the topic in his 'Gene Expression' blog entry: "The Assyrians and Jews, 3000 years of common history." Dienekes Pontikos also covers Assyrian Christians in his 'Dodecad' blog entries on genetics.

Anonymous said...

2011: A GRACE ODYSSEY.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat OT: the unintentionally funny scene in Thin Red Line was John Travolta (mis)cast as the Brigadier General. Think Dana Carvey on SNL playing Travolta as a general.

Anonymous said...

"Worse, Malick inserts his usual voiceovers, in which the characters whisper questions to God such as “Who are we to you?” and “Why should I be good if you aren’t?”

------

Who are we to Malick? Suckers?

And of course, 'why should I be good if you aren't?' is just Malick's roundabout way asking, 'why can't I be god since I'm so good?'

Anonymous said...

"If you want to show the younger generation why it was more fun to grow up free-range, before upper-middle-class children were constantly chauffeured to self-improvement activities, The Tree of Life is the film."

Rotfl. Something for everyone. For conservatives, a remembrance of a whiter America.

steve burton said...

Wow, that movie trailer...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLPe0fHuZsc

...is just awe-inspiring.

You've gotta love the City of Waco DDT vehicle (no, seriously - it really is marked that way!) spewing fumes in the children's faces at 1:25.

It figures that Malick would be a Heidegger enthusiast.

btw - Americans do, indeed, have the best philosophy (or, at any rate, the best philosophers).

To give a couple of wildly contrasting examples, check out the echt-analytic Jerry Fodor, or the neo-Thomist Edward Feser.

Serious people. Not pretentious gits.

Anonymous said...

I think Sailer has a point--though I admit I haven't seen the movie. Not only does all the cosmo-shlosmo stuff not belong there, it's a form of cheating. It is also the worst kind of vanity. To show the beginning of the cosmos, evolution, dinosaurs, and then... your own family is a roundabout way of suggesting 'everything that ever happened happened just so I would be born into this world.' This guy has a messiah-god-complex. All roads, temporal and geographic, lead to Malick, the cosmic Rome. Why are all the SWPL metrosexual dweebs wetting their pants over this movie? They too are vain self-obsessed idiots. Also, the movie practices a kind of false-humility. The cosmo-shlosmo stuff could be interpreted as proof of our smallness in the vastness of time and space, but in fact, it really caters to the notion of I, ME OH MY, IS THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. Just think about it. Suppose Sailer made a movie about the 5 billion yrs of the cosmos, but 70% of the movie was about his own life. We'd call him a loon. I mean what kind of an ego thinks this way? This is just a form of radical philosophical ptomelaism where Earth--and especially 'me' on it--is the center of everything. This is PASSION OF THE FLAKE. Why isn't Malick being laughed off the stage? Cuz in our therapeutic age of Oprah and Obama, hope and change teaches us that each of us is veddy veddy special.

Many commentators have said TREE OF LIFE harkens back to Kubrick's 2001, but Kubrick was NOT trying to tell us the mind of God or god or the secret of the universe. There is a great leap in time between pre-man and modern man, but it's poetic and very much to the point. There is a precision in the way the images are matches and themes are expanded. Also, the point of the final Stargate sequence is give us a taste of mystery beyond our understanding. Kubrick would never pretend to know the 'mind of god'. But this moron Malick made the biggest AT&T commercial where he reaches out and touches god or God or whatever and even psychoanalyzes him and etc. This is ego as god or egod. Kubrick thought and worked big, but he also had razor-sharp concentration and intellectual curiosity; he wasn't flaky-flabby like Malick who just lets his mind wander as if whatever pops into his mind is grade A profound.

Another thing... why the sheer literalism? It's not just this movie but INCEPTION, which was promising material but turned dream reality into a 007 shootout fest and videogame gimcracky. Nothing felt strange because everything in dreamspace was literally exact in their manifestation.

Real poets and artists don't work like Malick of TREE OF LIFE. Art cannot show or describe everything so the most an artist can do select and arrange certain details to suggest something more than is actually shown, which is why a 3 hr movie can feel like 3 yrs. Though not all works of art subscribe to the minimalist aesthetic of 'less is more', it's true enough that 'more and more and more is not more'.

If Malick wants to suggest something about man's place in the grander universe, surely there are more creative and poetic way than literally showing the damn thing followed by volcanic explosions and dinosaurs. (Besides, trilobytes might complain about the lack of inclusiveness.)

It's like a Holocaust movie doesn't have to show all 6 million dead Jews to make a point. Resnais's NIGHT AND FOG is less than 30 minutes long but still the most powerful film on the subject.

Malick is to fiction film what Ken Burns is to documentary. They are dweeby SWPL boys who now confuse scale and 'ambition' with quality.

I suppose BABEL was ambitious too, but I rather liked that one. At least all the stories and characters were compelling.

Anonymous said...

"In recent years, the best movie I've seen that actually says something is The Prestige."

Good fillum.

Anonymous said...

"Unless you love... your life will flash by"

"Oh goo goo. Now, I know the great meaning of life. Why doesn't Malick go work for Hallmark cards for Chrissakes?"

Yep. Soppiness, sentimentalism, humorlessness, taking himself way too seriously, inviting worship of himself, completely missing the absurdity of life and of how he looks from the outside while striking all those ridiculous poses - Malick's Middle Eastern roots are showing. It was just weird to see some of that projected on Brad Pitt.

He does have an eye for visual beauty though.

Anonymous said...

This movie reminds me of another flake who's been frittering away her real talent in pursuit of imaginary powers. Julie Taymor has genuine talent for art direction, costumes, design, and choreography, but she's not a storyteller and her ideas about people, history, and the world range from shallow to trite. She should put her superficial but real talent in service of another artist who can tell a story. But because she spent her childhood in Indonesia and peek-a-booed on a magic tribal dance, she seems to think she has some secret knowledge into the mystery of all things.
How else do you explain a pile of crap like ACROSS THE UNIVERSE--which I refuse to see by the way(the trailer was enough). I like the Beatles like anyone else and think 60s was a fascinating time, but should they serve as the focus of some grand testament about humanity, universe, war, peace, love, hatred, blah blah and more blah blah?
And as in Malick's movies, everything looks so antiseptic and clean. What's great about WOODSTOCK and MONTEREY POP? Sure, there's the hippie dippy stuff but also humor, self-deprecation, mud, port-o-san man, the fiber that makes life seem real. But TREE OF LIFE and ACROSS THE UNIVERSE seem like narcissistic pillow hugging.

Anonymous said...

"Malick's Middle Eastern roots are showing."

Wasn't there some Middle Eastern cult figure in the 60s who wrote THE PROPHET? Khalil Ghibran or something like that?

Steve Sailer said...

"You've gotta love the City of Waco DDT vehicle (no, seriously - it really is marked that way!) spewing fumes in the children's faces at 1:25"

Yes, there's a lot of fun stuff like that in the middle of the movie.

Murphy's Life said...

"It was just weird to see some of that projected on Brad Pitt."

Then again, maybe not. ;)

Didn't Steve Martin grow up in Waco and major in philosophy somewhere too?

I won't say if I have or haven't spent an excessive amount of time in Waco but Malick, Martin, and David Koresh give the distinct impression there might be something in the water. DDT?

Kylie said...

When I said that The Prestige was the best movie I'd seen in recent years that actually says something, I meant of the big "name" releases.

I've seen a couple recent films by and with lesser known people that also had something to say and said it well.

Dogtooth
The White Ribbon

Anonymous said...

Maybe TREE OF LIFE is a $100 million adaptation of a Calvin & Hobbes strip into major movie, of course without the humor.

http://comics.ganneff.de/2009.01.18/Calvin%20and%20Hobbes-2009.01.18.gif

Anonymous said...

It's GUMP IN SPACE.

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking of Peter Weir in relation to Malick. Both can be overripe. WITNESS(aka Witless)is kinda like HIGH NOON crossed with DAYS OF HEAVEN. And I really didn't care for the New Age flakery of FEARLESS. Even so, the guy in FEARLESS returns to reality at the end. And Weir did make YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY, a pretty hard-nosed movie about the danger of illusions--political, spiritual, egotistical. Billy Kwan plays god in a shadow play of his imagination which incorporates real people and real history. But as with the guy in FEARLESS, there is a rude awakening. Billy Kwan's god-complex is just that. A conjurer of illusions, not a conduit to reality.
TREE OF LIFE seems like the sort of movie that coulda been made by Billy Kwan, a man of high intelligence but also a megalomanical desire to remake the world. I'm sure Malick, like Kwan, is not a fan of tyrants like Stalin, but it may partly be due to the fact mere political power isn't enough for their ego. It's like Jesus rejected Satan's offer to be ruler of the world partly because He really wanted to the ruler of the entire universe, the co-equal of God. Thus, His rejection is both one of humility and insatiable megalomania.

Weir made another movie about the god-complex, THE TRUMAN SHOW, where Ed Harris, a TV producer, plays god and creates a complete bio-socio-shere for some guy named Truman. (I suppose all media moguls get to play god, creating an alternative fantasy universe in which the rest of us get sucked in as spectators.)
This TREE OF LIFE movie should may be called the TREEMAN SHOW. What's really pathetic is that while Truman was duped by media-god-mogul Harris, it seems as though Malick constructed and trapped himself in his own truman show. He created his own vision of God, universe, history, and society that have little to do with the real universe, real history(NEW WORLD, gimme a break), real people. The fool has really conned himself.

This is why something like LOONEY TUNES is invaluable. After watching some grandiose hot-air-balloon of a movie like TREE OF LIFE, you need Bugs to say 'ahh shut up!' Looney Tunes to wake us from Malick's Looniverse.

Btw, some people say Malick is so great cuz blah blah his movies are an oasis from the usual Hollywood fare blah blah. I disagree. Despite the haute-philosophical conceit of TREE OF LIFE, it peddles the same cosmo-cultish crap one finds in AVATAR and TRANSFORMERS. You got a confused young male discovering the meaning/purpose of life by communing with some great cosmic force. According to Michael Bay, it's a giant robot toy from outerspace. According to Malick, it a Green Day music video from another galaxy.

PS. Wasn't Pitt in PRIVATE LIFE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON or something like that, another one of those Big Message movies about life, death, love, the meaning of oneself in the cosmic design and blah blah?
Gosh, looks like Hollywood has done to Pitt what it did to Redford. Turned him into Saint Pitt. Goo.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute, is this like a variation of Genesis story where Adam eats the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge? Of course, Adam got in big trouble and didn't enjoy much of the knowledge. Maybe Malick imagines himself ignoring God's punishment, feeling no shame, and just enjoying his attainment of The Knowledge as a massive mind trip.
It's like John Sebastian singing about his dad and LSD at Woodstock. 'Younger Generation', I think the song is called.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJrAaVml_wo

"This is the biggest mindfuc*er of all time, man. I've never seen anything like this, man."

Sounds like Malick's movie.

Even so, WOODSTOCK has roughage, the fiber and bran thing whereas Malick's movie looks like an overly refined and bleached processed reality.

Anonymous said...

I just watched the preview. Perhaps it is pretentious. But maybe our culture needs more people thinking philosophically. Theodore Dalrymple writes of his lower class father being taken by his teachers to hear recitals and see plays, and how the high IQ folks [not his words] have an obligation to transmit good values and culture to the underclass. I think our culture needs less rap, Kardashians, and Fast and the Furious and more contemplative entertainment which challenges people to think about what kind of country they want to live in.

eh said...

Another movie about life (and death) and a tree, one which I have fond memories of.

sounds implausible

Yes, it does. But then again I would have said the same thing about Penn and Scarlett Johansson.

conceivably

Not really; only so much disbelief can be suspended.

glib, facile n snarky said...

I'm glad to know someone else is as deeply disturbed by the union between Sean Penn and Scarlett Johansson. It's as if all the work she must have done to get good parts in decent films was a fluke.

Didn't Penn go make an ass of himself after Katrina or was that Pitt?

Penn wouldn't be enough to put me off Tree of Life but Pitt is. He will always be the crazed animal rights activist from 12 Monkeys doing that Howie Mandell thing with his hands. I'll wait for the Tree of Life remake, thank you.

Anonymous said...

"But maybe our culture needs more people thinking philosophically."

You call this 'thinking'? I call it Oprah for SWPL 'intellectuals'.

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dasein#Original_meaning.2C_and_Heidegger.27s_interpretation

What the hell, does any of this make sense?


Like, it's all one big cosmic Oneness, man. Ya dig? I mean, dig deep, man?

Anonymous said...

Steve, did you ever review The Fountain by Darren Aranofsky?

Anonymous said...

You either don't come to this board much, or you got slapped accross the temple by a "literal" stick.

Care to explain this obnoxious comment? I don't see why Whiskey's comment was deserving of macho immature mockery. Also, f-u.

David said...

>Care to explain this obnoxious comment? I don't see why Whiskey's comment was deserving of macho immature mockery. Also, f-u.<

You don't want an explanation. You have it all figured out.

Svigor said...

I hated No Country for Old Men. Thought the The Big Lebowski was silly at best. Most of the Cohen stuff strikes me as navel gazing. Most of Mel Gibson's stuff is only so-so at best.

I liked No Country for Old Men. I thought The Big Lebowski was a steaming pile of crap. Fargo was okay. Braveheart clearly rules. The Thin Red Line was way out on the left hand side of the bell curve of boring.

'Course I like John Carpenter's movies...

Svigor said...

It's one thing for an artist to pull the audience into a trance

Blade Runner is my favorite "trance" flick.

Svigor said...

Is that talent or nepotism?

Far be it from me to pour cold water on the idea of nepotism in the film industry, but it doesn't have to be either-or. People follow their parents into the family business all the time. It gives people an edge, growing up around the film business and knowing key players socially. If nothing else, they get to see how the business works firsthand.

APOCALYPSE NOW is ridiculous too for wrapping the comic book material in cosmic text philosophizing.

Wow, talk about your editor's cuts vs. your director's cuts. The currently "official" version of Apocalypse Now totally jumps the shark.

I always thought Malick directed Heaven's Gate. Checking wiki, I see that bomb was actually dropped by Michael Cimino. Looking at the posters it kind of looks like Days of Heaven

Heaven's Gate sucked. I wanted to like it, but it just sucked. Cimino kinda went Colonel Kurtz on that one. They call it the film that bankrupted Universal IIRC.

Anyone who's looking for a good nature film should try The Edge.

Zek said...

Creepiest iSteve comment section ever. 120+ comments and half were posted by Terrence Malick's stalker.

jgress said...

@dok101:

Thanks for the tips about Assyrians. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Assyrians were related to Jews, at least Mizrahi Jews, since both represent relic populations in the Middle East. Linguistically, both Christian and Jewish communities in northern Iraq, northwestern Iran and southeastern Turkey were the last to continue speaking Aramaic. However, my impression is that the "Assyrian" label is an artifact of 19th century nationalism, when the Aramaic-speaking Christians needed to search for a non-Arab national identity. Apparently, this cause was aided by British imperialists. There is no evidence that these communities were conscious of an Assyrian identity before the 19th century, i.e. they never talked of themselves as descendants of the ancient Assyrians as mentioned in the Bible and as recorded in the inscriptions of the ancient Assyrian kingdom. As with most pre-modern societies, they identified themselves by religion, not ethnicity. It certainly doesn't help their case that the ancient Assyrian language is not a direct ancestor of their spoken Aramaic, although it is related (both are Semitic, like Hebrew, Arabic and Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia). And historically, it can be shown that the ancient Aramaeans, the original speakers of Aramaic, displaced the original Assyrians. While it is likely that many Assyrians assimilated to Aramaic language and culture, there is no reason to think that self-consciously Assyrian communities survived into the Christian era.

Anonymous said...

Care to explain this obnoxious comment?

It's just Troof's usual reflexive snark. It means nothing except he thought it was a snappy-sounding comeback. Style over substance...like a Malick film.

Gene Berman said...

Aononymous at 9:28 PM:

"challenges people to think about what kind of country they want to live in."

Apparently (and unfortunately), we're living in exactly the kind of country they want to live in. It's called democracy. And, since that's the worst form of government except for all the rest, it seems as though this is "as good as it gets."

Truly sorry 'bout that.

glib, facile n snarky said...

I finally realized why the only Malick movie I've seen is Dirty Harry. His most dormant period was between 1978 & 1998 which coincides with the period of time in which I did most of my movie watching. 1998 to present, incidentally, I've seen only a handful of movies. It's as if Malick and I are living world's apart.

What would happen if I saw Tree of Life? Would it initiate a whole new era of movie watching for me? Would Malick retire completely as a result or die?

Malick doesn't want me to see any of his movies.

Anonymous said...

"I finally realized why the only Malick movie I've seen is Dirty Harry."

I know what you're thinking. Was it six facile comments or only five... but this being the most powerful Komment Kontrol in the whole world and will wipe your comments clean off, you gotta ask yourself just one question. 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do you punk?

Anonymous said...

"Creepiest iSteve comment section ever. 120+ comments and half were posted by Terrence Malick's stalker."

Don't worry. I haven't read CATCHER IN THE RYE in 30 yrs.

Truth said...

"Care to explain this obnoxious comment? I don't see why Whiskey's comment was deserving of macho immature mockery. Also, f-u."

Everything Whiskey writes is deserving of macho immature mockery.

And judging from the way you ended your post, your no stranger to that art.

Kylie said...

"Blade Runner is my favorite 'trance' flick."

Mine are Tron and Mulholland Drive.

"I finally realized why the only Malick movie I've seen is Dirty Harry."

OK, now that was funny.

Anonymous said...

Creepiest iSteve comment section ever. 120+ comments and half were posted by Terrence Malick's stalker.

Yeah, cuz it's SO creepy not to grovel in abject worship of the awesome auteur. How DARE anyone not acknowledge his profundity!

Kylie said...

"Creepiest iSteve comment section ever. 120+ comments and half were posted by Terrence Malick's stalker."

Stalker? More then half here seem to be in avoidance mode when it comes to Malick amd the rest don't seem too keen on his later work.

Nice try with the demonizing of some pretty reasonable criticism, though.

Now trundle on back to HuffPo and tell them all about how you took on the haters at iSteve's.

Svigor said...

Everything Whiskey writes is deserving of macho immature mockery.

Okay, that was funny. Predictable, but funny.

Anonymous said...

It's just Troof's usual reflexive snark. It means nothing except he thought it was a snappy-sounding comeback.

Thank you for clarifying what I suspected.

Anonymous said...

Add me to the I-Liked-The-Thin-Red-Line team. I found the voiceovers amusingly goofy. I give Malick credit for having the guts to be sincere and unironic.

That said, I can see how his pacing and rather oblique approach to narrative might put off some people.

To each his own.

Anonymous said...

"The New World" is a masterpiece.

The cinematography, the musical  score, the three lead performances, the poignancy of the final scenes - just perfect.

Anonymous said...

"The New World" is a masterpiece."

No, you need a girlfriend. Almost everyone who loves NEW WORLD is a dweeby guy who can't get a girl and so swoons over the nature-child-woman in the movie.

Steve Sailer said...

Well, you can't say Terrence Malick doesn't excite comment.

Truth said...

"No, you need a girlfriend. Almost everyone who loves NEW WORLD is a dweeby guy who can't get a girl and so swoons over the nature-child-woman in the movie."

Awesome!

See how much fun Macho Immature Mockery can be?

barbra's black hoodie said...

"Awesome!

See how much fun Macho Immature Mockery can be?"

Truth seems to have been taken by the pod people along with Whiskey.

Let me remind you that this is iSteve. Perhaps you should go back over the comments and posts for months to remember who you are and what role you play here. BTW, your tendrils are showing.

Truth said...

"BTW, your tendrils are showing."

TAKE...ME...TO...YOUR...LEE-DUR! Oh he's black? nevermind you guys are in good shape.

Kylie said...

"Well, you can't say Terrence Malick doesn't excite comment."

I'm almost afraid to see what would happen if you posted an entry on Michael Haneke.

Anonymous said...

People mentioned 2001, but I wonder if Malick is channeling Sagan's COSMOS more.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7n71pm0K04

Anonymous said...

It's COMSMOS crossed with GREAT SANTINI.

Anonymous said...

I'm almost afraid to see what would happen if you posted an entry on Michael Haneke.

Cricket chirps, that's what would happen.

Anonymous said...

Almost everyone who loves NEW WORLD is a dweeby guy who can't get a girl and so swoons over the nature-child-woman in the movie.

Actually, I swooned over the Adagio from K488 and the breathtaking cinematography.

And got a little teary-eyed at the prospect that tens of thousands [hundreds of thousands? MILLIONS?] of Americans can trace their ancestry to the union of John Rolfe X Pocahontas, which produced the little boy who boarded the ship, with his father, in Gravesend, to return to the New World.

Anonymous said...

"Actually, I swooned over the Adagio from K488 and the breathtaking cinematography."

Go find a girl.

Jeff said...

Sexless dweebs are the only lovers of Malic's movies? What a ridiculous statement. Rather more likley true: only status-seeking narcissists, gentically unable to realize that life is about whimsical moments, hate his films. The Thin Red Line and New World are about the truth that small moments of love are our enduring moments; there is no higher moment in life than making your child laugh or bathing with the woman you love. It is a mistake to believe that careerism or social climbing are comparable to brief moments of bliss with a loved one. The nature element is added, because many of us are genetically-inclined to avoid large swaths of humanity and are instead forever attracted to the beauty of nature, of animals and the serenity of such. Thus, for people of like mind, Malic's films help remind us that life's finest moments are about the nexus of love and beauty and the former is always the latter. Of course, given that his films move slowly, they often can only be appreciated when in a truly serene state of mind.

Anonymous said...

Rather more likley true: only status-seeking narcissists, gentically unable to realize that life is about whimsical moments, hate his films. The Thin Red Line and New World are about the truth that small moments of love are our enduring moments

Maybe it's not the message so much as the oafish, self-emamored aspect of Malick's films that annoys us.

Truth said...

""Actually, I swooned over the Adagio from K488 and the breathtaking cinematography."

Go find a girl."

LMAO! You guys know how to start a Bruva's week off.

Anonymous said...

"The Thin Red Line and New World are about the truth that small moments of love are our enduring moments; there is no higher moment in life than making your child laugh or bathing with the woman you love."

Then why not just watch saturday morning cartoon? Kids laugh at that but will be bored by THIN RED LINE.
And if 'bathing with the woman you love'--ROTFL--is the greatest thing in life, go find a girl and have shower sex. Don't stare at two dingbats who are too busy gazing at one another and sharing seashells to bathe or have sex for that matter.

And can anyone imagine John Wayne or any of the Founding Fathers talking like this?

Jefferson's Declaration.

"All Men Are Created Equal.. but men who make kids laugh are more equal than others." Bozo the clown must be the greatest of all men.

Washington's journal.

"I joined the revolution, fought in the war, and served two terms as president, but my fondest memory is fun in the hot tub with Martha."

Duke.

"That'll be the day!"

Anonymous said...

http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/3953/full

My Way seems to be in the vein of Tree of Life.

Kylie said...

"The Thin Red Line and New World are about the truth that small moments of love are our enduring moments; there is no higher moment in life than making your child laugh or bathing with the woman you love."

That's what Hallmark is for, hon.

Marc B said...

"I'm confused. A movie about thrill killers sets you up as a promising artist? Doesn't sound like any poets of oil-patch people I know, but I'll keep an open mind."

Many a man has flirted with nihilism in youth yet moved toward traditionalism after learning a thing or two.

Kylie said...

"...the truth that small moments of love are our enduring moments; there is no higher moment in life than making your child laugh or bathing with the woman you love."

On the contrary, for many, the highest moments in life come from a heightened awareness of the presence of God in our lives.

"The nature element is added, because many of us are genetically-inclined to avoid large swaths of humanity and are instead forever attracted to the beauty of nature, of animals and the serenity of such."

Ah, yes, the serenity of stumbling across a rotting squirrel carcass in my wooded backyard.

Nature is not a Hallmark card or a Malick movie.

"Malic's[sic] films help remind us that life's finest moments are about the nexus of love and beauty..."

No, they don't. They remind me that films can be very beautiful but I don't confuse films with nature, life or reality.

"...and the former is always the latter."

Huh? Do you mean that love is always beauty or that life's finest moments are always the nexus of love and beauty?

I hate to think how high my blood sugar level must be after reading this soft-focus, slomo drivel.

Anonymous said...

I'm never come away from a Malick movie with the impression that he views nature as benevolent. Awe-inspiring, mysterious and beautiful: yes. Benevolent: no. Characters fight hunger and engage in manual labor in his movies. Women fall in love with men and then choose to settle down with men who are better providers. In all his movies the women get a better deal than men. In Badlands, for instance, a movie about a couple on a cross-country crime spree, the male gets the death penalty for their crimes while the female gets probation.

I have not seen The Tree of Life but based on the trailer I would not be so quick to assume it's simply about the superiority of feminine values over masculine ones. I'm guessing the movie ends with the son reconciling with the father. We've seen that theme before in such movies as The Godfather and Star Wars, and Steve has discussed in it his writings about George W Bush and Barack Obama. Again, I haven't seen it, but that's my guess.

Anonymous said...

Einstein said 'God doesn't play dice' but Malick does with our eyeballs.

Anonymous said...

"I'm never come away from a Malick movie with the impression that he views nature as benevolent."

Then what was all that blue lagoon crap in THIN RED LINE or John Smith 'bathing with the one he lives'? Do primitives in real nature zonk out like that? What if a cougar pops out of the forest and takes a bite out of your ass?

Anonymous said...

"Characters fight hunger and engage in manual labor in his movies."

Because they have destroyed nature. The barren badlands is a metaphor for what whites have done to once bountiful America. The Garden is gone, and man must use guns, technology, cunning to eke out a materialist living.
But in the NEW WORLD, we see when America was the Garden. Nature folks could just paint themselves and bathe with the one they loved and have lots of fond memories.

Anonymous said...

Because they have destroyed nature. The barren badlands is a metaphor for what whites have done to once bountiful America. The Garden is gone, and man must use guns, technology, cunning to eke out a materialist living.
But in the NEW WORLD, we see when America was the Garden. Nature folks could just paint themselves and bathe with the one they loved and have lots of fond memories.


Dude, this is WONDERFUL satire. Please keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Then what was all that blue lagoon crap in THIN RED LINE or John Smith 'bathing with the one he lives'? Do primitives in real nature zonk out like that?

Nature as Paradise did not last for either white character. Civilized man's hope of returning to primitive simplicity is a romantic illusion. Malick understands this; he's not an idiot. Your RESENTMENT of Malick's success prevents you from seeing that.

Anonymous said...

Malick understands this; he's not an idiot.

No, he's not an idiot. He's also not much of an artist.

Anonymous said...

Assyrians are not Arabs.

They are an indigenous people of the Middle East.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assyrian_people

Anonymous said...

Film geeks galore. What dorks.

The comments are supergeeky. Beware.

http://www.davekehr.com/?p=1022&cpage=1#comments

What a flake, this JR Jones.

http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/terrence-malick-the-tree-of-life/Content?oid=3965651