Monday, April 8, 2013

The Tree Of Life (2011)

An architect (Sean Penn) reflects upon his childhood, the death of his brother and the universal implications of it all.

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I know that among certain cineastes, the style of Terrence Malick is something to be mocked. Wide-angled, magic-hour shots of nature overlayed with ponderous philosophical voice over is very easy to imitate, but it is also impossible to truly replicate. If it was truly so easy, wouldn't everyone be doing it? Wouldn't every film school brat have their own Palm d'Or by now? What sets the cinema of Terrence Malick apart from any of his imitators, is the fact that he genuinely sees the world this way. It's not a style. Look back at his first film Badlands and it's all there right from the get-go. Terrence Malick knows no other way to make a film, it's purely instinct. His films are the cinematic equivalent of a Bruce Springsteen or Jim Steinman song: small, human melodramas given the grandeur of an epic with universal importance. Nowhere is this more the case than in The Tree Of Life. A family's loss placed within the context of the forming of our universe? Who even thinks that way? Terrence Malick does! And boy am I happy that he does. Don't ever change Terry, don't ever change.

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