Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Finally, A Film That Takes Life Seriously

I was jarred awake from my blogging stupor this morning by a report from the Cannes Film Festival, of all things. A new film by the famously reclusive Terrence Malick (left) elicited an antiphony of boos and cheers from the glitzy gang gathered in southern France this week. The film is called The Tree of Life, and it now tops my must-see list. It is scheduled for release May 27. It might even make me reconsider Brad Pitt.

The last movie of Pitt’s that moved me (I never saw “Fight Club”) was the 1992 Robert Redford film “A River Run’s Through It,” and that’s mainly because I am obsessed with Norman MacLean, the author of the short story and one other book, Young Men and Fire. (Gee, I could actually write about that in this space too. Maybe my blogging head really is waking up. . . . )

Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven” (1978) is one of those films that I read about in advance and made a point of seeing on its first day of release. Others have included “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “No Country for Old Men”—not sure there’s a pattern there.

Here’s the trailer from “Days of Heaven,” if you never saw it. Richard Gere was young once.

After “Days of Heaven,” Malick began developing a film project titled “Q,” about the origins of life. Then Malick disappeared from the Hollywood scene and did not make another feature film for 20 years. That comeback was “The Thin Red Line,” a World War II masterpiece that perhaps only coincidentally co-starred Jim Caviezel (Jesus in Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”) Maybe not coincidentally: Malick’s forthcoming “The Burial” (2012), starring Javier Bardem, was filmed partly in a Catholic Church.

Malick began studying philosophy (Kierkegaard and Heidegger) at Oxford and MIT in the 1960s, then migrated into the film business. So maybe we should take seriously a film he entitles “The Tree of Life,” especially if it is only his fifth feature in nearly 40 years, especially if it may be an end-product of the “Q” document.

Check out the trailer, then check back with me in 24 hours. I may have come back to life myself.


  1. Well it's a month later.... what's the verdict? It's the only movie in Burlington playing that doesn't look like crap.... but I can't tell...

  2. Visually stunning, but seemingly rudderless, and boring as hell. 45 minutes too long, because my wife fell asleep. My usual source gave it high marks, but this was no The Kings Speech. Not by a long shot.


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