Sunday, May 22, 2011

In Anticipation of The Tree of Life

Back in early January when I wrote of my most anticipated films of 2011, I placed Terrence Malick's upcoming The Tree of Life in the number three spot (just behind von Trier's Melancholia and Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmasters - the latter of which may not even see the light of day so to speak til 2012).  Now here we are four months later and the film has just been awarded the coveted (duh) Palme D'Or at Cannes.
 I must admit that I am as pleased as the proverbial punch that Malick's film was awarded this honour - even if I have not yet actually seen the damned film.  Not being one of the elite crix - either those with their colour-coded press passes alongside the Croisette or those lucky enough to catch a press screening in NYC (not that I am bitter) - I must now wait my turn just like everyone else.  Now I will probably make a special trip to that aforementioned Big Apple (a mere three-and-a-half hour train ride away) sometime during its first week at Lincoln Plaza Cinema (opening May 27) instead of waiting with the rest of America to see it slowly leak its way across the moviehouses of this great land of ours (July 8 is set as an official wide release date).

The film has received some attention before the awarding of the top prize at Cannes - though not quite in the same manner as fellow Cannes selection Melancolia has.  First off, it was booed at the screening (but unlike that snarky Dane, M. Malick was never called persona non grata).  Now this should really not bother anyone since many great films (most notably L'Avventura) have gotten booed at Cannes, but this sharp distaste did lead to at least one quite talked-about critical drubbing.  But the film has received its share of enthusiastic raves as well.
The auteur's previous films (all four of them) have also caused much derision in the critical community.  In my not-so-humble opinion, I believe they run the gamut from youthful curiosity (Badlands) to perplexing ambiguity (The Thin Red Line) to oft-overlooked brilliance (The New World - am I the only one who found this film to be brilliant!?) to downright near-masterpiece (Days of Heaven).  I have liked all of Malick's films to some degree or another (and I am not trying to sell Days of Heaven short, I am just wary of using the term masterpiece too often so I placated those feelings with a self-serving prefix) and I don't think The Tree of Life will be any different - even if my wife thinks the trailer looks like a big pile of you-know-what (in an explanatory note, I don't think she has ever forgiven me for making her sit through The Thin Red Line - just not her thing).

I suppose I will end on my own words.  Here is what I said back in January about the film and my anticipation of said film:  "Five films in a thirty-eight year career doesn't exactly make Terrence Malick the most prolific of filmmakers, but it does make it all that more important that we get everything we can out of each of his five (so far) films, because one is never quite sure when another might come along.  This one, from what I can tell, has the distinction of having Sean Penn playing the child of Brad Pitt.  From the trailer it doesn't seem your typical Malick (if a man with five films in nearly forty years can have a typical anything) but it does look gorgeous, if nothing more - but I do think there will be much much more."
I mean after all, just take a look at the three beautiful stills in this post.  Now imagine that at 138 minutes.  How can this not be just spectacular?

Of course I am going to look pretty damned foolish if this whole things ends up being a dud (not that I haven't looked foolish many many many times already).


MP said...

I'm so looking forward for this film too!
And I really like your new design!

Kevyn Knox said...

Thanx on the design comment (I am really happy with it). I am going to see the film in six days and am super excited as they say.