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I'm going to piss my pants i'm so excited. Who's going? See you in the pit
We'll never see anything like this again. An exceptionally personal, adventurous arthouse film given a blockbuster budget.
It's not perfect, it has it's flaws, but these are like ripples in the ocean. At it's heart it's a poignant film about family. One of the most evocative depictions of childhood I've ever seen. Particularly the scenes just after the birth. Beautiful.
I don't know whether it's for everyone (which is a little bit sad, as I think a lot of aspects of the film are universal and accessible), but I'd really REALLY recommend you go see it. You won't see anything like it.
I've not seen this film. Can you tell me if that was a joke post or not?
meaning it could just be playing up to the name entirely. Reading it just sounded like a sort of OTT joke thing, like a reworking of CG's classic review of Cameron's speech.
I meant playing up to the notion of someone who's a fan of someone/something so they use it as their username.
I had a feeling that it wouldn't be quite my cup of tea and I was correct. But I can't fault the ambition (or the acting), it's certainly unlike anything I've ever seen really. And though the whole 'creation of the universe/beginnings of life on Earth' segment is utterly bizarre, it's probably the best bit of the film, some of it is dazzling.
I kinda regret being so enthusiastic about it now as I think a lot of people will come away confused and disappointed. But on the other hand, they might just love it.....
That David Walliams 'Awfully Good Ads' ad that was on Channel 4 a while ago in which he whispered cryptic, amorphous nonsense
Those really vibrant nature shots that are preloaded onto Windows for use as desktop background.
I'm not much of a philistine and this film didn't leave me at all confused- but I thought it was utterly, utterly dreadful. Really not for me.
I've finally seen a film that was made worse by the inclusion of dinosaurs. Even typing that makes me feel dirty.
Have you seen any Terence Malick before, especially The Thin Red Line.
I knew fairly little about this film before seeing it and even less about the individuals involved. I was prepared for something non-linear and virtually without structure- it's just that the content really, really didn't do it for me.
I like a bit of pretension and am perfectly willing to submit to long, slow and arty films but this was absolute wank. Visually stunning - yes; it would make a nice screensaver.
Part Perfume Ad, part The Wonder Years, complete tedium.
The birth and the bit just after was incredibly moving. Same goes for the growing up part that followed actually. The two main kid actors were great! The nature/water/blablabla scenes that went along with that section were great and I reckon added to the whole 'looking at the world as if you're seeing everything for the first time' thing.
I just couldn't understand the inclusion of the space and the dinosaurs. For me it didn't really tie into anything. I'm sure it's my problem but for me that stuff was too big and remote to have any connection with the family and their surroundings. I just thought it was totally extraneous. It was just as if they'd plonked a bit of '2001' style stuff in there for no reason. Looked very nice though!
I would agree that there isn't much like it that i've seen and would recommend it just on the middle part alone.
is meant to be complementary rather than part of the narrative, i think it sort of ties in though, like the birth and growth of the centre family is kinda of that on a small scale..maybe. its the guy who did 2001's special effects doing it anyway, no CGI
I just didn't think it tied in that well. I did like how the whole film seemed to suggest that the bad things were just a very small part of an otherwise good/beautiful world. Best to be positive innit
First impressions: I thought the portrayal of childhood and the family dynamic was absolutely incredible and really cleverly done. At lot of it was shot at child height, and I noticed that the mum and dad spoke to each other twice, at most. So it really nailed that impressionistic, hazy, emotion-led memory of childhood in a way that I don't think I've ever seen before. Off the top of my head, I think it's the best I've seen Brad Pitt.
The rest of it though, well... the film it reminded me most of was Avatar, which surprised me. I thought the ending was catastrophic and the whole thing was so disjointed that that kind of conclusion was never earned. Also, I found the wild shots of Sean Penn looking miserable standing next to buildings increasingly hilarious.
But it was certainly bold, personal filmmaking (which - *CLICHE ALERT* - looked absolutely stunning) and, as mug_mug_mug says, I'd recommend it on the middle part alone.
For two interesting takes, if you have a few minutes, have a read of these.
I absolutely loved it. I found the whole thing profoundly moving and so beautifully done. The more "wanky" bits with the dinosaurs etc, which so many blogs I had read focused on, took up such a small part of the film I didn't understand what people were getting so annoyed about.
I went with 3 others. 1 loved it, 1 wasn't sure, the other hated it. OPINIONS!
and my overall impression was one of deep disappointment.
I'm in agreement that it looked amazing, that the early child years parts were lovely, I also really enjoyed all the cosmos kind of stuff - it looked beautiful
BUT - then it just kind of stalled and I became less and less emotionally involved. To build something up with such complex and profound imagery and then deliver such clichéd and one dimensional characters (Pitt, Penn and the mum)just felt like a travesty. I was expecting an oceans worth of depth in the characters, and I got a paddling pool.
Why was I meant to care about Penn? Where was the emotional hook. Why was he even in it?
And it was slow. soooooo mind-numbingly slow, life is not that slow ALL the time, you can have a meditative film about growing up and all that shit and still have a bit of variety in pacing.
And that bit at the end in the desert or whatever. OH MY GOD. actually laughable. And it felt as if Penn had found some resolution with his past at the end, some kind of peace with himself - but why? Cos he moped around his big offices all day having a little think about his childhood?
it's actually making me quite angry writing this
Why was the grown up Jack there?
I will concede that the young Jack character was well drawn.
Um, I'm not sure quite how to explain why I found them a bit paper thin - I guess because they (the parents) so strictly fit within their roles as polarizing influences on the young Jack. I think that people are a little more complex than that and would have liked to have seen more light and shade, especially in the film that's evoking THE CREATION OF THE WORLD.
The older Jack was just a bit embarrassing I felt. A man who we are led to believe is somehow at odds with the whole but with very little to tell us why. We don't see any indication of why his life is empty or whatever, and we are given even less reason to care. I thought he was completely superfluous.
I think it would have helped if there had been some effort to make the young Jack a bit more likeable instead of him being a little shit.
I'd like to reiterate that there were some bits that I thought were beautiful.
The father is shown to be domineering and almost violent, with a stress towards work as a way of life, but then you see his love for music, the way he cares for his sons and the regret and dissatisfaction he admits at the end.
The mother definitely has an angelic quality, but she is not perfect. I don't think Malick is asking us to choose between the two parents, i don't think that's the point.
I'd agree that Penn's sections don't work quite as well as the rest of the film and even feel a little jarring at some points. Someone mentioned on another forum that Jim Caviezel worked so well as a 'blank canvas to project ourselves onto', which may have been Penn's role for this. Of course Penn can never be a blank canvas as he too familiar.
At least you're thinking about it and giving some constructive critique instead of using reductive phrases like 'it's a screensaver'.
but otherwise unimpressed, it hinted at thing but didnt explore them in a satisfactory way at all
I think people should stop bothering to make anything interesting. Stick with quirky indie comedies. Yeah.
This film was just a waste, great cinematography and imagery but an under developed core
that's a very reductive statement. That's why I'm angry.
And it's absolutely true that the majority of users on this site look no further than Wes Anderson or Christoper Nolan for their cinematic kicks. Not saying their bad filmmakers at all....but this is something completely different.
because it nice to look at but there wasnt much meaning behind it, obviously I was exaggerating a little. It may be different but that doesnt automatically make it a great film, thats what was such a shame about it
That's why I was so disappointed.
Because I desperately wanted it to be interesting and amazing and awe-inspiring and leave me full of wonder and joy, but it didn't, because underneath all the incredible imagery was a pretty weak tele-play.
It was far from beyond criticism and even parody. Calm down!
but 'screensaver' just pissed me off.
It touched on a fair few themes and didn't really follow any of them through (apart from maybe childhood). It was trying to be a big, all-encompassing piece but it ended up not covering anything well. I feel like I like it slightly more after finding out it was mostly autobiographical but you wouldn't know that without prior research.
I've been waiting patiently for years, and it didn't disappoint. I thought the way which the audience were only given a snapshot of life & growing up was wonderfully juxtaposed with the concept of the entirety of creation, and felt in no way short changed at the lack of a definitive narrative, answers, or climax to the 'story'. Sometimes it can be more interesting to pose questions and to paint a picture, without losing an air of mystery.
It truly was a piece of art, every shot was aesthetically stimulating, and I left with a greater appreciation for the beauty in the small details in everything around me - comparable to how I've felt after perception changing acid trips. Will see again.
-the birth of the universe/dinosaurs sequence: supposed to be awesome, with the dictionary meaning of awe, but was just too long, and boring, and something you'd see in a Brian Cox documentary. I'm too used to CGI, it's all "meh, you just drew it on a computer, big deal".
-Sean Penn: what the fuck was that? I would have cut him out entirely. reading some reviews afterwards, apparently he was supposed to be trying to come to terms with a bully dad, death of brother, yada yada yada. He was quite literally a blank canvas.
-good stuff, the way the family stuff was shot and edited. was at points approaching at being interesting, fleetingly, with the boy and Brad Pitt. Pitt was the most rounded, only rounded, character and I didn't think he was a bad dad in any way.
-the mother, yes, we get it, she's a perfect angel.
-childhood stuff. you could pick a random person off the street and make a film about the first 10 years of their life, we all have memories reasonably similar to that. it was just stuff happening, nothing wise or philosophical.
-I didn't hate, I forgot about it immediately after leaving the cinema, and at times while in cinema. How could you hate a perfume commercial with Classic Fm soundtrack?
“We worked with chemicals, paint, fluorescent dyes, smoke, liquids, CO2, flares, spin dishes, fluid dynamics, lighting and high speed photography to see how effective they might be,” said Trumbull. “It was a free-wheeling opportunity to explore, something that I have found extraordinarily hard to get in the movie business. Terry didn’t have any preconceived ideas of what something should look like. We did things like pour milk through a funnel into a narrow trough and shoot it with a high-speed camera and folded lens, lighting it carefully and using a frame rate that would give the right kind of flow characteristics to look cosmic, galactic, huge and epic.”
saw it on a massive screen. It looked like it. Thought, "where's the Brian Cox voice-over?"
Thought it was interesting that something that has been criticised as sub-kubrick computer made effects were created by Douglas Trumbull with paint and milk.
Trumbull has a place in my personal hall of fame for filmmakers: directed Silent Running, did effects work for 2001, Blade Runner, Close Encounters....I didn't know he did this.
I don't know what it is, those older movies look more real than anything they know make on computers, obviously because they are real objects in many cases. Somehow this sequence did not work for me. Have I been spoiled by too many CGI documentaries? Was it because there was no contrast in the images to something we'd recognise from our world? or because of the context within the film. Don't know.
it's interesting that what Douglas Trumbull made with paint and milk looks like computer-made effects.
I mean all the craft that went into it is interesting to read about later but if, at the time, most people were (as I suspect) thinking it's CGI then maybe that's an issue. Maybe people think everything's CGI these days but, whatever it was, I didn't think it looked particularly convincing and, as What_Ho says, was waiting for a BBC documentary voiceover...
they're regarded as pretty much the best nature documentaries in existence, does it mean any future film which wants to use nature footage is artistically comprimised? Seems a tad silly.
In terms of the CGI thing, stuff from all trumbull's works look like they might have been done with CGI because they're so unnatural, I think people's closedness to the film is really exposed in their inability to suspend disbelief in CGI they're not even seeing.
and someone who does like it crosses their arms and sulkily informs that person that they're just "Closed" to it.
To be honest, how the footage looked wasn't really an issue at all for me in terms of why I didn't like the film. My only point was that, whilst the process of how Trumbull made the footage is quite interesting from a technical standpoint, it didn't really improv the experience of the film.
Going back to my issue re the "BBC documentary", of course they are excellent documentaries but my issue really was how pretentious and heavy-handed it was to shoehorn the creation of the universe at all. Visually it was alright but, here being my point, no more imprssive than if I'd stayed at home and watched a bbc nature documentary but - that aside - it was a painfully elongated, unsubtle and OTT way of making a symbolic point and, especially when taken with that God-awful whispered dialogue over it, it became laughably ridiculous.
All it needed was the word "Fin" at the end and you'd have all the hallmarks of bad student filmmaking and frankly I expect better from a director of Malick's calibre.
in the sense that you can't just make a spectacle and think people will be impressed.
it's much harder for a visual spectacle to impress a viewer these days. In this film this whole sequence was just dumped in the middle of the film, as a viewer I did not carry into it any dramatic context.
minor point: many people have said that the scene of one dinosaur choosing not to kill the other one was supposed to represent compassion, but would it not have been much more compassionate for the dino to kill the wounded one and put it out of its misery. wasn't the dinosaur a bit of a dick for letting the other one suffer?
is an invalid because of what pisses you off? I don't like people laughing at the end of films i've really enjoyed and making me feel like a prick so I guess we're even.
Accusing people of being "closed" isn't quite the same as saying they're predisposed to not enjoy something - it implies some sort of flaw on their part as it suggests they lacked the open-mindedness to enjoy it. You can't seriously suggest there was no value judgement in there.
This may shock you I didn't laugh at the end of the film in order to spite someone on the internet I've never met. I laughed at it because that was my natural reaction to the presposterous over-symbolism at the climax of the film.
I'm sorry if I made you feel like a prick. Though I'm not sure that justifies you acting like one in your previous post. Some people don't like films you do like. It's not the biggest tragedy in the world. Get over it.
this is more a general comment, and something, I think, that has come up anywhere on this thread. But in my non-internet message board arguing life I have come across many a film fan, who has pissed me off on this issue.
Say, you disagree on the merits of an arty, or difficult film, for example this one, I hate it, the other one loves it, and they, convinced that their appreciation of the film is the only sensible view to hold, tell me I have not "got" the film, and they may pity me, hoping that one day I am able to come around to their side. Often, and in this case, my response would be to say I did get it, and there was nothing especially amazing there the keep hold of. (this conversation also applies to music (Radiohead, the National, come to mind, and religion obviously, but that's a start of another messageboard firestorm)
getting something (something that people sometimes cannot do) and coming into something with an agenda is completely different. And criticising something for flaws which objectively do not exist would imply something about the way in which you are viewing the film.
also why would some one go into something with an agenda, im sure most people watched this film wanting to enjoy it why else would anyone
While i'm sure no-one went into it thinking "i'm going to hate this", some people will be more skeptical than others and i'm sure some people will go into this film which has been presented (erroneously, I think) as this really high-minded "big" film with a slightly combatative mindset.
And just as some people will go into a film thinking "this has been made out to be brilliant so I'd better be impressed" and then really pick apart any flaw, there'll be others thinking "Malick's a great director, this has great reviews. I'm going to make sure enjoy it" and then minimise any flaws and convince themselves they enjoyed it more than they actually did. I'm not saying that's what you did, merely raising the point that a lack of objectivity and an agenda works both ways. It's as much a reason to claim people who like the film are deceiving themselves to its quality as it is to claim that those who dislike the film are doing so. Personally I'd think it inappropriate to try to second-guess why people felt the way they did so, since it cancels itself out, don't think it's an issue worth raising.
Incidentally it's interesting to use the world skepticism in this context though, just 'cos it's an often misused word that's very relevant here. Skepticism doesn't actually relate to having a negative attitude towards something, as many people assume, but is actually the word for a belief in not forming an opinion until you have relevant facts. So anyone who went into the film being truly skeptical wouldn't have set aside preconceived value judgements one way or another and judged the film on its own merits. This is all, of course, beside the point.
As to whether I had an agenda, I don't know whether I dlsliked it because I was predisposed to dlslike it anymore than I suspect you know whether you liked it because you were predisposed to like it. I don't think I was - certainly at face value I went there wanting to enjoy my evening and see something good and left feeling that quite simply it was not a good film.
All I knew was the tripple 5 star little white lies review, I really wanted to love it (dont get me wrong I did think parts of it were good just no mastepiece)
being predisposed isn't a completely non-valuative description is it?
I thought your reaction to me implying you (not even necessarily you as your critique seemed to be different to the one I was on about anyway) may have been closed to an experience (again, not particularly harsh) was to characterise me as some kind of sulky bitch apparently based on some previous moviegoing experience, when I figured I was being perfectly civil, was wrong and so I chaaracterise you as obnoxious based on my previous moviegoing experience.
and trying to find reasons why they were erroneous in deciding they didn't like it. I accused you of being sulky 'cos you seemed to take me not liking the film personally and felt there was something to get "even" over. Which seems to me quite a petulant reaction.
can we put the dinosaurs safely into 'one of the small flaws' section mentioned in the first post. really struggled with those but ah well the rest of that sequence was so beautiful it hardly mattered
Postponed until Thursday.
I could hear Potter blasting through from the neighbouring screen. I had to travel to watch it as all my locals were Pottered out. Fucking Potter.
agree with a few people on here about Penn being a bit of a missed opportunity, and that Caviezel would have fitted the role better (I thought the young Jack looked a lot like Caviezel anyway!)
Also the cosmos bit was amazing (but i love all that shit anyway) although the 2 minutes with dinos was a bit jarring and didnt quite work.
I was pretty angry when it finished though because during the last scene a bunch of people were giggling and tittering, and then when it finished a load of people burst out laughing, which ruined a lovely moment.
along with at least 20 walk outs. I get that it's a polarising film, in some respects, and that maybe all the high-minded (and in some cases pre-emptive) defensiveness a lot of critics and Malick apologists have been coming out with may have only helped to push those who didn't enjoy it as much to become even more fervent and dismissive in their attitudes towards the film, but surely everyone can agree that there was enough craftsmanship alone to justify sticking with a film you've paid money to see through to the end, even if people had trouble connecting with the film emotionally.
Personally, I loved it, flaws and all, and found it the most powerful cinemagoing experience I've had since Synecdoche, New York. Maybe it's because I lost my Dad relatively recently, but I found the sensitivity and perceptiveness with which Malick was examining familial relationships almost unbearable. And that helped me to drift through the more abstract passages as of an emotional piece, rather than trying to reconcile it too intellectually, though there was plenty of scope for that in the ensuing days.
Talking to other people who have seen it, I think that on the whole people who went in to the film excited to see it came away ecstatic, whereas skeptics came away deriding it as a vacuous, pretty looking waste of cliches. For what it's worth, my girlfriend, who had only heard of Terrence Malick via my constant talk of how great he is, loved it with the exception of the beach sequence, which she found either too heavy-handed a metaphor, or just plain confusing. Either way, I find it odd how much ire it is raising from some people, considering that if nothing else it's a bold, beautiful and ambitious work appearing in actual multiplexes alongside shamelessly commercial fodder like Transformers 3 and Harry Potter 7 and a 1/2, at a time when that possibility seemed all but impossible.
thought the last 20 minutes (bit after the son said to Brad Pitt "I'm more like you than her") or so were a bit pointless though, didn't really get any more out of it after that bit.
I thought it was all about God vs Nature. The father was meant to represent God to the kids - full of arbitrary rules that he himself didn't follow, sometimes kind and loving, sometimes harsh and vengeful. He wanted to mould the kids in his own image.
The mother was determined to let the children develop naturally and for them to develop in tandem with their natural environment, she didn't punish them for doing "wrong" things.
The bit with the beginning of the universe, dinosaurs etc came right after you found out about the death of the son. It's a common theme to both world views - in the grand scheme of things one human dying is absolutely nothing no matter whether you believe that God created the universe or if it was a natural process.
(We also had talkers in our showing who pretty much whispered throughout the whole showing, even after being told to shut up a few times. Think they were Spanish, so I now hate Spanish people)
what's so important that these people are talking about that can't fucking wait till the film is over.
they were just messing about. Why the fuck they didn't just leave the screening I don't know, they were obviously absolute idiots.
It's like when people are having a (quiet) conversation through the trailers (fair enough if you're keeping your voice down) but continue when the lights go out and the films start. They obviously have a hugely inflated idea of their self-importance to think that their conversation is more important than the collective enjoyment of the film of the people around them.
Makes me so angry!
a lot of the features that you'd usually judge a film on - narrative, characters, dialogue, etc - were all at best adequate. The acting was of a really high standard (especially of the sean penn kid and brad pitt as usual), but i'd find it really weird seeing anyone get an oscar nomination for this and even though on a sorta technical level it'd be deserved, for me none of the film was really enhanced or made by the decent performances.
Which is why it's so weird to say it's probably one of the most evocative and moving films i've ever seen having all of the above play little part in it. i didn't even know cinematography could do that - genuinely unlocked childhood thoughts and atmosphere i'd totally forgotten existed. just focusing on textures and little things that have no real relevance totally captured that childhood sense of wonder in everything. and then seemingly simplistic touches like the low angles looking up at parents were just so effective. probs purely aesthetically the best looking film i've ever seen
all the space odyssey bits i'm gonna admit I struggled to find relevance of and really fit into the film but it all looked so incredible i didn't really care. and they hardly lasted long anyway.
this is the next morning and it still sounds unbelievably wanky. ugh.
no that's really interesting actually.
i think in terms of 'narrative, characters, dialogue, etc' is there really any shortage of those in cinema? probably a lame cliche but in 'over-saturated, 24-hour news land' there are narratives everywhere. if a film wasn't to put those on those side-bench for the minute to focus on other stuff no skin off my nose.
I would also say while I completely agree with you it was pretty new, starling and conflicting, I'm not sure lack of those particular elements points to those qualities - like for example 'Last Year at Marienbad' completely did away with all those elements to a much greater extent 50 years ago, and was then and is now a pretty popular staple of art-house cinema.
So while I can understand why it's jarrring in this kind of movie, I would disagree with other people (esp. movie critics) who go 'Oh no there is no character development. What aaaaaam I going to do!?' and act as though that lack absolutely disqualifies it from being a 'good movie.
.'Despite having written a hefty script, they didn't really stick to it. Instead, Malick created a few blocks of 1950s neighbourhood and practically set his actors loose on it. Explains Pitt: "On a normal set it's very loud, generators going, over 100 crew members. There was none of that on this. There's one guy with a camera on his back, no lights, and we're free to roam wherever we want to roam." Each day would start with Malick presenting the actors with a few pages of notes he'd written, often Kerouac-style, stream-of-consciousness musings (the child actors were barely told anything), then they would go and see where it took them. "He doesn't want to do what he calls 'hammer and tonging' a scene as its written," says Pitt. "He doesn't want to do more than two takes. And on the second one, he'd often throw in a dog or send in one of the kids, or just do something surprising to change the tenor of a scene. Then he'd laugh and laugh.'.
you can really see the benefits of that kind of working environment in the naturalistic style of the stuff at home - with the kids mucking about in the garden or whatever.
Not even "rant because it makes you angry" bad, just "shake your head in pity and embarrassment" bad.
The ending was probably the most hilariously awful thing I've ever seen. I was already reduced the point at laughing at the ridiculously heavy-handed symbolism throughout the film and when I saw that door amongst the ruins at the end I thought "surely, even given the heavy-handed symbolism so far, he's not going to walk through the door?" as a big dramatic moment. But he did. And what followed after that was about as subtle as being pissed on by a drunk student.
That said, I thought the kids acted well, the bit covering the first ten years was done well (even if I'd second what_ho's point that you could pretty much take the first ten years of anyone's childhood and there was the odd nice moment. But there were also numerous shots of scenery and the Earth forming with bad rambling poetry and the film pretty much screaming "I'm being meaningful, Goddamnit. Oh, please for the love of God, see that I'm being meaningful?". And, just when I thought perhaps it might all work out to be a half-decent film, there was THAT ending.
Just to be clear, I've nothing at all against experimental cinema and I've nothing against breaking with convention to do something interesting but it was just very, very, very heavy-handed and didn't seem to have much new or interesting to say.
and the Sean Penn "because you're worth it" desert/beach/whatever wandering sequence... in the end I wasn't even angry with it, even though rationally I should've been.
And I don't give a shit it was allegedly autobiographical, about Malick's own dead brother, if it's not on the screen, it is not relevant to the discussion about it.
This is much shorter that Tree of Life, and much more entertaining, note the hand-held camerawork, the advert imagery, the mumbling voice-over:
"Pretension" by Fry and Laurie
but, yeah, agree the point about it being autobiographical is irrelevant. Either a film works for you and it doesn't and the fact that "but it really happened" isn't an excuse for a not very intresting story is prtty much the first thing you're taught in Scriptwriting 101.
but if that pretentious is to the detriment of the film it's a perfectly valid point.
It's a bit like "irony" in a way in so far as it's a word that is overused and misused to such a degree but when you use it sparingly in the right context it's a perfectly valid criticism.
In this sense - given the main criticism of that particular segment is that pretends to be much more weighty, meaningful and important than it really is, pretentiousness was precisely the correct word selection.
I didn't think it was making me think but telling me what to think through bad use of symbol and metaphor.
*A big part of it was summed up in the early dialogue. There are two ways to live - gracefully accept all that life throws at you and be happy or to try to fight against your circumstances. You'll be much happier with the first option.
*If God exists he's harsh and cruel and much of what he does makes no sense.
*Families, individuals, species and universes are, created, born, thrive and ultimately die out.
*It's a huge loss when a child dies and this tears people's lives apart.
*People lose their way in life and would probably be happier if they could get back to who they were as children.
* Through remebering and thinking about the past we can, in our minds, reconnect with our loved ones.
specifically about the dichotomy of grace and nature?
I mean certainly in 'real life' terms I think grace is an equally flawed approach and that the mother was a contributing factor too but didn't really feel like that really came across in the film and I felt I was being steered towards seeing the Father as the bad guy.
All of which ignores the fact that Grace vs Nature is quite a silly and reductionist way to view the world in the first place...
Just struggle to see how the 'grace vs nature' idea "is(n't) as clear cut as you make it sound" when one of the opening lines set up grace vs nature as a dominant theme in the film.
Bit defensive, like.
i think it sets it up a clear (yes, simplistic & reductive) binary opposition at the start, or at least evokes an already-existing binary opposition - remember the voiceover then is the mum, and so unreliable to some extent, no? anyway then for me the film complicated that idea e.g. when Jack tells Mrs. O'Brien 'You let him walk all over you' and she looks sad. Also when Fiona Shaw's character cheerfully tells her to move on, 'you have two children left' and she's crying, and looking a little angry. Also, when Mr. O'Brien is away and the kids wave the lizard (?) at Mrs. O'Brien it starts of funny then turns slightly sad and becomes clear she has no control. Also, there's look by Mr. O'Brien toward his wife after he's disciplined his kids which seems to say 'Look this is what we know I have to do'.
I think there are many moments where Mr. O'Brien was shown sympathetically. There was a scene outside with Pitt just staring back at the kid's for 5 seconds or so which to me suggesting how much he loved them, and I don't think his business interests was criticised particularly, certainly in the scene driving past the mansions, and when excitedly returning from his trip I got the sense of Mr. O'Brien as a hard-working everyman trying to better himself in a cruel society. iirc that latter scene is shot from above and the former with the house's is shot slightly from below (?) placing him in a sympathetic position in relation to the social heirachy - he may have power over his kids and sometimes mis-uses it but equally the rest of society has power over him. The shot with the plane (& a train) was interesting I think because of the lack of focus placed on O'Brien - a bit like (POSS. SPOILERS) the final scene in Badlands when Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen fly off to prison and the camera focusses on a random man walking down the runway. As in that movie, the airport was a site that reminded us of the main character's relative insignificance, except here it was placed in the middle.
that said, if you want an exploration of the christian idea of grace/meekness taken to it's logical extreme - Breaking the Waves goes down that avenue a lot more thoroughly.
the film, when it merely serves to illustrate how much is going on.
Firstly the fact that nothing was going on was never one of my criticisms of the film. It was that these themes were explored poorly and in a very unsubtle way.
Secondly, I said all that in six sentences and could read that back to you in less than a minute. The film was two and a half hours long. Given that was pretty much all I took from it, and I knew all that when I went in and I wasn't visually blown away or emotionally moved in the way I'd hoped to be, I didn't feel I got a lot from the experience.
To be absolutely clear here, my problem is not what the film was trying to do. It was that I didn't think it did it very interestingly or very well.
It's a mis/over-used expression and yeah, is often a tired line thrown at anything a little unconventional or 'clever' (in much the same way that the counter argument might churlishly question the critic's ability to understand the film), but seeing as the criticisms of The Tree of Life in this thread are that it "affects a greater importance than it actually possesses" and not "derp, there were no explosions or tits", it's a legit term to use.
The fact words are now being over-used, often incorrectly and often lapse into cliche, is a concern.
Its not as if people are throwing the word around and not elaborating
a) would you agree it did something new cinematically?
the 'universe sequence' could perhaps be compared to 2001 but apart from that surely the 'invented some tropes' as people say. isn't this worthwhile in itself. even if you thought this film was terrible, in 'inventing tropes' that can be used by directors who tick more of your emotional boxes surely it can some useful effect.
b) does a film need to say something new thematically? surely that's for philosophers and writers. Why can't a film just illustrate stuff or chuck a set of ideas in a ring and see what happens?
c) similarly, narrative-wise - i don't really understand your/What_Ho's point? Why is the fact that it could have happened to anyone a bad thing? I'm presuming it was intended as universal. If Malick had wanted a sensational narrative, he could surely have picked any paper and stole a story about children from that .... a lot of the images, stuff like the baby's foot, the children playing through the window, the bath bits can't be anything but deliberately universal, no? tying them to a literal 20 minutes section of the universe adds to this even more as does the blandness of Sean Penn's buildings; his 'blank canvas' acting.
I wonder whether this ties in with the pretentious critique, if you're expecting conventional 'meaning' or something to happen it's going to be disappointing.
to some extent i agree with you and was wary about say the use of opera sometimes, but i don't think that suggests that there should be more meaning than what is on the screen, it's just about the images. if you put an image of lava with some opera, it sounds nice and shows lava with some opera. it's manipulative but i don't think it's pretentious since the only thing which says 'the opera and the lava' is claiming to be more than it simply is, is the viewer's expectations.
for me, i think it was his most formally inventive movie, as much in the amazing universe sequences (if people have seen screensavers that beautiful, please send me a link) as in the family scenes...although i gather some of the hallmarks like spontaneous shooting go back to Badlands...there's that anecdote about Malick choosing a location, everyone being set up to shoot a take in one place then Malick seeing a beautiful sunset across the other side of desert and telling everyone to get up and move a couple of miles....this one really took it up a notch and was unlike anything i'd seen before, even when I didn't like it.
I know your points were asked to someone else but
a) yes probably, im no film expert but i've never seen anything like it, cinematography 10/10
b) no, but it has to explore themes well, to me it seemed like it barely touched upon the themes it raised
c) yeah, dont see how thats a criticism really
r.e. b) i don't think we're going to find a compromise on this one but i disagree that a film even really needs to explore its themes. explore again suggests some kind of dialetic meaning. it suggests you go somewhere or find something out. it suggests to me language - which can be one element of films but surely a reductive one, in that if you can say something in language in a movie, you can surely say in language outside a movie; in writing or speech...and therefore you may as well not have put it in the movie at all. i'm quite happy for a film to just *show* memory or grace as a singular idea in an interesting way.
did you think that it did that? you agree that you've never seen anything like it. for me the 'new things' that it did in terms of cutting scenes, use of angles, use of lighting all suggested memory in quite a powerful way. this seems to be case for nestor above too:
'i didn't even know cinematography could do that - genuinely unlocked childhood thoughts and atmosphere i'd totally forgotten existed'
i didn't feel it said anything about memory or particularly explored what memory means, but it *suggested* memory which is more than good enough for me.
if i did think that a film needs to explore themes i agree that there are many films that explore certain christian themes like grace much better than Malick does tho.
He did the 'unlocking your childhood thoughts' thing and then having done that left the viewer to explore the themes on his own. Fine by me
the childhood scenes were good and did suggest those kind of childhood memories, I just dont think that is enough to sustain a 2 hour film, maybe a short film. If it had all been like that, say that it suggested the experience of mourning/grief as well as it did childhood I might have thought of it more favourably, instead we got the sean penn scenes that were completely devoid of anything, the (non) cgi which just evoked the feeling of 'I guess this is supposed to evoke awe' rather than actually evoking awe, just seemed really clumbsy and forced and then the laughable ending those scenes massively detracted from the good childhood ones
fair enough. i can't think of anything to say to that really.
I totally agree with you about the non cgi and the ending but the childhood bit was good enough to make me forget those sections totally! The film as a whole was pretty flawed but that part on its own was mindblowing enough.
I guess the only other point I'd make is that my issue wasn't that the film didn't explore themes, it's that it did explore themes in a very heavy-handed way. If it hadn't have explored themes that wouldn't necessarily have been a problem, though it would be odd for a filmmaker to make a two hour and a half film with no subject matter or intention...
dude, those are the best kind of films!
3 and 3/4 hours worth of only suggestion. And it's great!
When I say 'you should', you know...
I've not seen it but from the little I know about it, I'm not sure it necessarily doesn't have themes to it.
And certainly the fact there's only suggestion wouldn't rule that out.
I think people can get confused with what a film having themes means - it doesn't necessarily mean there's a coherent theme and message to the whole thing; just that there's certain subject matter and ideas that a filmmaker sets out to explore in making the film, which I think is true of most films. I can't really think of any examples where a filmmaker has spent a year making something where they really have nothing to say and nothing they want themeselves or the audience to think about. The only exceptions I can immedately think of are perhaps straight-down-the-line pornograohy and the very worst beat-em-up/shoot-em-up/action films where there is literally nothing going on except violence and kinesis.
They are far more defined than in the Tree of Life actually. Only suggestion is exaggerating it a lot come to think of it.
I know what you mean about the themes and also I don't think directors spend 12 months making straight down the line pron. Twelve hours maybe!
i didn't explain the first paragraph and it read as fairly clumsly and odd.
i should have just written...*what Mark Cousins thinks*...
This definitely isn't a new thing. It was done very well relatively recently in Spike Jonze's Where The Wild Things Are, which in my opinion was a far better exploration of childhood.
a) Not really. It included sections that'd generally be more standardly included in a documentary than in a narrative film, which is a bit unusual, but I didn't feel I was watching anything new.
b) It doesn't have to say something new but ideally I want to have some sort of experience watching a film whether it's that I feel I've been entertained, enthralled, amused, blown away by the spectacle or given some sort of insight I've not previously had. None of those things happened for me.
c) Absolutely it was supposed to be deliberately universal (quite literally so in the shots of the universe!) but I think that was kind of the issue; it felt to me like it was trying far too hard to show it was making a wider point about the universe and tell us something new and meaningful about the human condition. But I don't think it did tell us anything particularly new or meaningful about the human condition so the bits where it tried to widen it out to an entire universe felt very, very forced.
Whether or not I expected conventional meaning, I certainly feel I got it. I think that's kind of my problem with it - I felt it was a very conventional, and quite preachy, message movie with someone trying to stick extra bits of artifice onto it to dress it up as something far more interesting. But I still didn't actually feel it was any more than a conventional, preachy, message movie spending two and a half hours telling me a bunch of things I already new in a way that felt like more of a novelty than genuinely interesting.
Which brings us to your last point. This is, of course, a discussion of the director's intentions so we'd both be speculating but I felt like it was trying to suggest there should be a great deal more meaning than what was on screen. If it simply was the opera and the lava with no wider meaning implied then it didn't do that especially well for me and I'd suggest that would have then worked better as a visual spectacle, certainly without the awful dialogue over the top and ideally without the story at all as I felt like the two things jarred rather than complemented each other.
Obviously the bottom line here is we're arguing about opinions and never going go agree but there's absolutely nothing you can say that convince me that was anything more than a dreary, dull, weary and heavy-handed film.
oh no. i didn't really expect to change anyone's opinions, but it's useful (for me, at least) to unpack it all a bit further.
clarify: i dont mean the film in general..., i'm sure it's hard not to unpack that. i just mean you guys criticisms of it, just because i don't really know what i think about it so listening to your objections and how far i accept those helps me formulate my opinions/dismiss your opinions etc. ;)
(It is really fucking long)
will give it a read.
here's another shit-tonne of Malick stuff on the internet
not all about Tree of Life, but lots of great stuff
...and have been staying out of this thread until I had. Having read thru it, it doesn't surprise me that there are so many conflicting opinions.
Overall I enjoyed it, and applaud its ambition. It certainly didn't achieve everything it set out to, and there were several flat moments, but as cinematic spectacle mixed with intimate film-making I thought it was very impressive.
That said, where the cinematography was fantastic, the scoring felt in the main massively overwrought. And as good as Brad Pitt was, Sean Penn was poor.
The couple next to me walked out after about 25 minutes (and missed the dinosaurs as a result - ha, suckers). You could tell from the discussion in the cinema lobby afterwards that people fell fairly equally into the camps of those that loved it, those that hated it, and those that weren't sure. Pretty unusual for a London crowd watching a well-advertised 'difficult' film.
Also, made me think - is Malick getting slower and slower with the pace of each successive film? If so, I'm bringing a duvet to his next one.
I have to... his films are so long!
it was quite good.
Brad Pitt was amazing in it he should get an award.
thought the Sean Penn stuff was messy and awful though, i get that he was there to contextualise it all but they could have made his scenes so much better.
and q&a at my local w/ Nigel Ashcroft 'Natural History Producer' on the film, who helped make the universe sequence
it's such a frustrating mixed bag of a film. There were bits which were quite wonderfully done, I agree with the people who have said that the family sequences were at times just exquisitely realised. Really captured the confusing, emotional abstract idea of childhood in a way that I haven't seen in any other film bar Where The Wild Things Are (which was very different in its approach but similarly affecting). The child-height camerawork and sense of perspective were great. And the langurousness of the film worked in these bits because it just made it all weigh that much heavier on the viewer.
BUT, it was all kind of ruined by the creation bits and the Sean Penn bits. If you're going to have these overarching ideas, you really do have to tie them in somehow or risk losing your audience. There was just no indication of why we should care about those parts, and as a result they veered from boring to laughable and back again. Also, the mum's voiceover bits near the start were massively annoying (her stage whisper made me want to slap her). Generally with the voiceover bits I couldn't get that spoken word bit from Have You Passed Through This Night? out of my head (I do know that's from a Malick film too).
So overall, some great ideas, admirable ambition, but it felt simultaneously underdeveloped and overlong.
I also hope I never have to go to the cinema with most of you.
do you think we smell or something
must say, i'm slightly dissapointed. perhaps it was my own fault, building it up do much.i agree with most of what has been said already, so don't have much to add.
most of the family scenes were stunning. interesting that you all noted how moving the moments just after the birth were. during those scenes i suddenly had a few tears running down my face that seemed to come from nowhere. i guess the fact that it was simply just so stunningly evocative
but, equally....the sean penn stuff, and the universe shots, never scaled these heights and so i almost felt like the family stuff was let down by the rest of the film not reaching the same level of brilliance. and the ending was such a let-down....after all this rich, beautiful imagery, we get a stock 50p postcard shot of a bridge. just seemed slightly off-balance.
anyway. still pretty amazing. i've always been a fan of impressionistic film-making, so this was mostly gold for me. and i'm glad he went big, even if it didn't all quite hang together.
i think it can easily be called a 'flawed masterpiece', even if that's probably a silly phrase.
which is fine by me. I'm not one of these people who dismiss a film because one scene doesn't work as well as another, or there's a song you don't like so much on an album.
Seeing it for a second time tomorrow at Prince Charles, and read in The Guide that Days of Heaven is being reissued in cinemas in a month!
''This is especially true of the long sequence that encompasses the bulk of the film's second half, a gorgeous, emotionally and thematically rich memory of the childhood of three brothers living in Waco, Texas in the 1950s. This is, I think, quite simply the best thing Malick has ever made, and it perfectly addresses my earlier criticisms about the unsatisfying narrative currents in his most recent films. This whole sequence—which starts with the birth of the oldest brother and ends with a melancholy backward-looking shot as the family leaves their home to relocate for the father's new job—is utterly stunning in every way, and is grounded in character and relationships to an extent that I don't think Malick has ever before achieved.
That childhood sequence is a total masterpiece. The Tree of Life as a whole is not, I don't think, but it's certainly a very interesting film and, yes, a messy one, and also a very personal one. Parts of it are amazing. Parts of it are overblown and silly. Parts of it are overblown and silly and amazing. The cinematography is, of course, uniformly beautiful, if sometimes in the way a National Geographic nature special is beautiful. And then there's the ending, which very nearly extinguished the good feelings I had about the hour leading up to this nauseatingly new agey coda. In that sense, The Tree of Life is typical of my conflicted responses to Malick's previous two films, but neither of those films had anything that got to me quite like the troubled relationship between Jack (Hunter McCracken as a child, Sean Penn as an adult) and his father (Brad Pitt) does in this film. That this film contains some of Malick's most remarkable work and, as we've both already hinted, some of his worst, suggests that The Tree of Life is indeed an ambitious film, a film that takes bold risks that don't always pay off. As always, I admire Malick for that willingness to take risks, even as I wince at the moments where his results fall short of his ambitions. Because when, as in the childhood chapter of this film, everything comes together for him, the result is emotionally overwhelming, and says more about the human experience and the nature of life and death than Malick's more overt philosophical statements ever do.''
'emotionally overwhelming' rings true.
i think terrance malick might've created something truly magical with that family depiction. despite the rest of the films flaws, it is a completely stunning achievement.
i fell up the tube stairs in slow-motion. turned around to do an elaborate 'whoops' for the benefit of everyone else on the stairs, but no one had even noticed that i'd fallen. london eh? they couldn't give a fuck. that sort of topple would be a days worth of gossip in southend.
then on the way back, a gobby girl with beautiful thighs and a beguiling scent, sat next to me and spent the entire journey arguing with her boyfriend really loudly in my ear.
'i swear to you. when i see you i will either nut you or punch you. definitely one of those'
i hated her to start, but then loads of people got off the train, making loads of spare seats, but she stayed sitting next to me, which i saw as a beautiful act of loyalty, so then i sort of fell in love with her.
It becomes me and them against the rest of the train.
did not like when mini sean penn was all she only loves me about his ma
i liked the movie better if i dont think about it as deeply personal
i hated all that cod dino shit too.
eating a guy off a toilet or GTFO, amiright guys?
i dont think ive ever seen a guy eat a toilet
no i dont think ive seen that either
is comparing malicks cinematography to national geographic documentaries like in that one
really pisses me off, as if the only way of understanding something is through banal references.