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Sludge 
"Conquistador of the Useless"

USA

Posted - 30/05/2011 :  06:46:11  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Okay, 14 reads and no comments when I just put "oy." So here's more.

It's very beautiful, contemplative, majestic...and non-sensical. At the end of the film, we had an Emporer's New Clothes moment as my wife, with a tiny bit of self consciousness, started giggling. Gradually the people around us did the same.

It came off as a long, well-financed, UCLA film school thesis project.

I didn't read reviews beforehand, but now I'm looking and found some things that say it better than anything I can cook up:

Leonard Maltin:
The Tree of Life is truly a film in which the parts are greater than the whole.

Claudia Ping from USA Today:
But the artistry in every frame is undeniable.

Jenna Busch, SheKnows Network:
...like watching the most attractive person you've ever seen in your life tell the most boring, drawn-out story you've ever heard. It made me want to grab Malick by the shoulders and yell, "Focus!"

I am not saying, "Don't see it." If you do plan to see it, spend the money and go see it on a big screen... consider the imagery of "2001" and pacing akin to "The Thin Red Line". Neither of these films receives justice on my living room TV.

Edited by - Sludge on 30/05/2011 20:30:46

rabid kazook 
"Pushing the antelope"

Posted - 30/05/2011 :  20:52:01  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Has anyone already made a connection with Enter the Void ... Because I totally get the same vibe - EtV with a color negative cinematography palette.



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demonic 
"Cinemaniac"

United Kingdom

Posted - 30/05/2011 :  23:14:18  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This sounds like a typical Malick film. Give me beautiful, contemplative, majestic and non-sensical every day. I honestly can't wait.
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Improper Username 
"inappropriately amused"

Posted - 31/05/2011 :  03:22:02  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Sludge
If you do plan to see it, spend the money and go see it on a big screen... consider the imagery of "2001" and pacing akin to "The Thin Red Line". Neither of these films receives justice on my living room TV.



Oh, you mean like Barry Lyndon.
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rabid kazook 
"Pushing the antelope"

Posted - 02/06/2011 :  21:26:41  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by demonic

This sounds like a typical Malick film. Give me beautiful, contemplative, majestic and non-sensical every day. I honestly can't wait.



Oh man isn't the "epicness" of ToL just bombarded in every promo of the film. And then there's Brad Pitt man-God-actor, very hmmm .I'll give it a twirl, but I do prefer "smaller", "auteur" films (the first two films of Malick ourve fall there, and even New World I think; that one kind of stayed "small")
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Sludge 
"Conquistador of the Useless"

USA

Posted - 06/06/2011 :  23:51:47  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by rabid kazook

quote:
Originally posted by demonic

This sounds like a typical Malick film. Give me beautiful, contemplative, majestic and non-sensical every day. I honestly can't wait.



Oh man isn't the "epicness" of ToL just bombarded in every promo of the film. And then there's Brad Pitt man-God-actor, very hmmm .I'll give it a twirl, but I do prefer "smaller", "auteur" films (the first two films of Malick ourve fall there, and even New World I think; that one kind of stayed "small")




No need to worry about star power weighing it down. The life of Pitt's character is more hinted at than shown on screen, and he disappears for long stretches.
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Sludge 
"Conquistador of the Useless"

USA

Posted - 24/06/2011 :  22:31:02  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Theatre warning.
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demonic 
"Cinemaniac"

United Kingdom

Posted - 25/06/2011 :  00:38:49  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It's sort of sad that a cinema has to resort to putting up a sign to defend a film - but I'm glad that they did defend it, as they obviously care about film and the potential of film beyond entertaining and making bucks. I've still to see it as it hasn't been released over here yet, but looking over the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes it's no understatement to say it's about the only film I've been looking forward to seeing for the last 12 months. I might love it, I might be disappointed, and possibly I might hate it (given I think The New World is one of the absolutely best films of the last ten years - possibly not), but I'll be glad to be asked by a director to experience and think about big questions in a cinema.
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GHcool 
"Forever a curious character."

Los Angeles, CA, USA

Posted - 25/06/2011 :  08:32:34  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Sludge

Theatre warning.



They should have put this sign up at the Arclight Sherman Oaks where 5 people walked out during the space/dinosaur/evolution sequence. I thought they were knuckleheads and agree with those who think Tree of Life is a great film.
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BaftaBabe 
"ModiglianiBabe!"

Posted - 25/06/2011 :  10:02:27  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GHcool

quote:
Originally posted by Sludge

Theatre warning.



They should have put this sign up at the Arclight Sherman Oaks where 5 people walked out during the space/dinosaur/evolution sequence. I thought they were knuckleheads and agree with those who think Tree of Life is a great film.



I haven't seen it yet, but, like dem, I'm looking forward to it. I don't always think his stuff is successful - but lemme say this - quoted from Wikipedia: about the 1913 premiere of Stravinski's half-hour long ballet The Rite of Spring "The complex music and violent dance steps depicting fertility rites first drew catcalls and whistles from the crowd. At the start, the audience began to boo loudly. There were loud arguments in the audience between supporters and opponents of the work. These were soon followed by shouts and fistfights in the aisles. The unrest in the audience eventually degenerated into a riot. The Paris police arrived by intermission, but they restored only limited order. Chaos reigned for the remainder of the performance." The music has since been universally recognized as one of the most astounding, innovative, and accomplished pieces of the 20th century.

Sure, audiences have the right to respond, but I, too, admire that cinema for reminding them to have some respect for those who may hold different opinions and refrain from spoiling their experience.

It's easier to add a column of numbers than to provide informed critical evaluation. In art, nothing is right or wrong. All you have a right to say is you do/don't like it. You do not have the right to fuck up the song, painting, novel, ballet, film, whatever for others.

But you definitely have the right to stop your fellow earth-mates from killing each other, the fauna and flora of the world, and the planet itself. Everything I've read so far about Malick's film leads me to believe he's at least peering at those questions.
/////////
EDIT after seeing ToL
/////////
Why did it win the Jury Prize at Cannes? Ponder ...

Let's forget about sfx machine-led extravaganzas which sustain Hollywood's 'cartoon' films whose raison d'etre is shooting and killing and very little loving that doesn't involve seduction and/or fucking.

Let's forget about cheesy rom-coms that have long-sustained mainstream fare by keeping up expectations of an emotional exchange that exploits what we might mean to each other as we learn the steps of the wooing dance.

Let's even forget adult, intelligent films that pose questions about how we are manipulated by the forces of a society that perpetually seeks to maintain the status quo, no matter how corrupt, nor how complicit we may be in the process.

No - let's focus on screen commitments such as Man With A Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov, or Terence Davis' Of Time and the City. Both exemplify the visualization of that amorphous thing that is memory.

Think about how you think. It's not a linear process, nor even one that requires language.

Think about orchestral music - it could be Brahms or it could be Pink Floyd. It's experiential, possibly moving, possibly evoking further thought or gluing bits of thought together.

Think about the eternal questions our species has been asking even before we had the words to ask. Who are we - so microscopically tiny in the vast beyond.

First we see a bright and shifting dancing nebulae floating, evolving the shapes of its gasses like the colors of a magnificent lava-lamp designed by Turner or El Greco.

Then we hear two whispered words. Mother. Brother.

Then we watch a man - Sean Penn - unafraid to show us his greying hair and wattled neck and a stare that pierces clean through the flawless glass and metal of his ultra clean home and office and city buildings that soar so high they transcend our planet, our solar system, our visible universe.

We learn snippets along the way, all collected together to help understand for one man, for us all, the meaning of meaning.

We are shown early on the immediate and longer-lasting effects of a boy, not yet twenty, who's been killed in action. We know this is the 1950s because the production design is simply impeccable.

We glimpse Penn as a young boy - it cannot be he who was killed all those years ago. It was one of his two younger brothers. What does that mean - brothers. What unbearable and delightful journey does he embark on, taking us with him, for it is our journey too, however different the specifics.

It's never said in so many words, but what catapults Penn into this map of memory must be a different death. And we'll wait to the end to discover whose. But the film's not about suspense. It's about unravelling.

Malick constantly juxtaposes the cosmological with the microscopic - and, incidentally he presents a series of images that could easily flicker across museum walls they are so iconic. He completely explores the Who Are We questions from the point of view of a perfectly 'normal' life rooted in family and the tenor of its time, its contradictions, its wordless resolutions. And he punctuates that point of view with the far wider implications of chemical compounds, of life-forms emerging from the pelagic, of dinosaurs and raging cataracts, of asteroid impacts, and the bubbling power of our sun.

He knows the forms and forces of water, a vital element as we piece together Penn's memories of mother and father and brothers and self. Of his own boyhood struggles to win his father's approval as they play out aspects of Oedipus. Just as we all do, but without the extremes of Greek tragedy.

It is a film without expectation of what a film is. And it is cinematic in every way - not a work for the iPhone.

That's what is such a challenge for movie goers when they pitch up and pay the admission, lug their bucket of popcorn and settle down for some Brad Pitt action.

There's far more true action in ToL than any Transformers Bay-side blast.

Malick gifts us with music as an element of our species rival to the sounds of nature. He presents us with what it feels like to think, to remember, to become who we are - rivalling the processes of evolution. And he constantly reminds us of our greatest gift which, of course, is love.

In the end, he shows us, there are no answers to unfathomable questions. There is what there is.

If you walk out of this film your life will be the poorer.
Well done, Cannes Jury. Hurrah, Malick.

Edited by - BaftaBabe on 11/07/2011 15:43:00
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demonic 
"Cinemaniac"

United Kingdom

Posted - 14/07/2011 :  01:51:45  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Really wonderful.

Okay, got to say a bit more than that. Spoilers, of course. Firstly the downside - I was frustrated early on by Malick's fast cutting and constantly moving camera - we were being shown some beautiful imagery (as always) but sometimes not being allowed to look at it, really look at it, for long enough, as if he'd been told by 20th Century Fox "yes, you can do this film however you please but don't make it four hours long". I'm still a little undecided by the formation of the universe and the beginnings of life on earth section. Without it I do think the film would be a little better - although it didn't bother me particularly - I'm happy to watch whatever Malick chooses to show me - and it did look wonderful but in terms of what it added to the central idea of Jack's recollections of his childhood I'm not sure yet. It felt like Malick's most overtly religious film - "The Thin Red Line" and "The New World" seemed to be more interested in nature than character - his attention shifts more toward the human in this film with greater attention paid to the flickers of thought and deeply felt emotions playing across the faces of Pitt, Penn, Chastain and the three central boy actors (all tremendous).

What I loved: the way Malick effortlessly makes the epic seem personal and the universal specific. I'm sure everyone must spend a large part watching the film reflecting and wondering at their own childhood, and parental or sibling relationships and enjoy some tingles of nostalgia regardless of the specific images. It's a fabulous evocation of what is it to be young, from the earliest things we remember to the hardest things we face in childhood. Malick's visual sense is extraordinary sensual and the details he finds are gorgeous; always have been. Most surprisingly given the non-linearity of the film and the abstract narrative, how incredibly moving I found the last part of the film; the reuniting of O'Brien family on the beach (heaven?) as Jack reconciles his memories of his parents and the loss of his brother was just wonderful. It's obviously a film that is going to buzz about in my head for a fair few days yet - but my general feeling now is euphoric - that film can even induce that sensation is one of the reasons I adore the cinema. For those prepared to accept film as an art form it really has to be seen, with an open mind and an open heart.
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Alan Spiffy 
"Don't I look handsome?"

Posted - 18/07/2011 :  03:57:44  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I just saw the film yesterday and honestly didn't know what to expect. I had skimmed some reviews, but didn't read up too much on the film because I wanted to be surprised. I was. And pleasantly so.

The film reminded me (and lots of other people) of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Think 2001: A Family's Odyssey, and you're sort of on the right track. Or remember that montage near the beginning of Adaptation with the baby being born and the animal rotting away and the earth forming and all that? Imagine that at feature length.

From the "controversy" surrounding the film and the disgruntled patrons, I was expecting it to be a lot more abstract and challenging to watch than it was. But I felt it moved along at a pretty good clip, considering there's not much in the way of a conventional narrative. I'm surprised more reviewers haven't brought up Koyaanistqatsi. For the way it combines music and images, it's more like Koyaanisqatsi than just about anything other film you might compare it to. I honestly think that The Tree of Life might play even better as an exhibit at a museum or even a planetarium. The feeling I got while watching it was often quite the same as the feeling of being at a planetarium. (My home town, Flint, actually has a good one which I visited many times as a kid.)

Movies which crossed my mind, for one reason or another, while watching The Tree of Life (apart from those already mentioned):
* Forest Gump
* Stand by Me
* This Boy's Life
* Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
* Powers of 10
* Fantasia
* Eraserhead and other David Lynch films -- what a surprise to find that frequent Lynch collaborator Jack Fisk was the production designer for this one!

All in all, I felt I really got my money's worth out of The Tree of Life and would recommend it to others. I think I might have to track down the soundtrack album as well.
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ChocolateLady 
"500 Chocolate Delights"

Israel

Posted - 11/10/2011 :  13:14:18  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
For me, it felt like two movies. One in which the artistry and metaphor was the center of what we were watching, and the other being the story of the family. This is why Maltin's "parts greater than the whole" line makes sense to me. Now, maybe its because I saw this as an in-flight movie, but I got the distinct impression that I didn't really get half of the references that the former parts of the film were trying to impart upon me. I don't think I'm stupid, but I guess I'm just not all that smart. Either that or I was just too tired to figure it out. Yes, it was beautiful and enjoyable, but the deeper meanings escaped me.

As for the family story, well, those parts were just marvelous.
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randall 
"I like to watch."

NYC, USA

Posted - 17/10/2011 :  22:16:42  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Ooo, ooo, for the first time in my life I've actually *purchased* the aftermarket disk [this time a Blu-Ray] for a film I've never seen. Will I love it? Hate it? I haven't read any of your comments yet, but one day I surely will, either after this weekend or the next, when ms. randall and I can settle back and behold. What will we see?
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randall 
"I like to watch."

NYC, USA

Posted - 18/12/2011 :  21:03:00  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This is one of those that smacks you like 2001. You realize it about :15 in. This is one of the best movies I've ever seen in my whole long life. I had the same frisson in a Cinerama-equipped movie theater back in 1968: just as with the Kubrickian space opera back then, right now I can't wait to see this one again -- only now I can!

I didn't "love it" or "appreciate it"; it enveloped me. I forgot to swallow for long periods of time.

There are many, many, many opportunities to carp at this picture. It isn't perfect -- in fact, that may be the theme. I will need two or three more spins before I can even talk about it like Linda and I did last night over dinner.

Edited by - randall on 18/12/2011 21:04:00
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demonic 
"Cinemaniac"

United Kingdom

Posted - 20/12/2011 :  02:43:15  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bravo!

As a side note I've been reading with interest about Voyage of Time - an accompanying documentary to ToL due out sometime next year narrated by Pitt and Emma Thompson which is feature length version of the birth of the universe section. Malick is suddenly getting prolific it seems with this, an untitled love story feature wrapped and two more projects in pre-production. I guess the Cannes success fired his creative engines. Colour me excited.
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