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02/21/2012

Dear Academy Awards - The Tree of Life? Really?

The-tree-of-life-trailerWe are almost at Oscar time, which means the Academy rolls out a litter of movies that most of us have never seen, won't see, and if we do we ask, "This is the best movie of the year? Then why does it suck?"

Example A: The Tree of Life, which is nominated for Best Picture. This is a movie made not for audiences, but for critics who congratulate themselves on appreciating the finer aspects to film making over a chai-latte espresso. I can't be too critical; this type of snobbery is akin to an NBA fan loving Game 45 of a regular season while the sports journalist yawns, "Booo-ring. Next.

The Tree of Life is directed by Terence Malick and stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, this movie rolls on for more than two-hours full of dialogue so quiet you will ask the person next to you, "Wait ... go back. I couldn't hear that. What did they say?"

What's the movie about? Something about a guy trying to find the meaning of life as he looks back at his youth and his relationship with his strict father. Or it could be about the stock market. Or maybe it's a movie about taking care of planet earth and our natural resources.

The imagery and the cinematagrophy in this fil are stunning and would be great on the big screen. But The Tree of Life isn't 2001: A Space Odyssey. Great imagery can't sustain itself for more than two hours, which at least Stanley Kubrick realized. There needs to be, you know, a story that we can, you know, follow. And dialogue that we can, you know, actually hear. I'm funny that way as a movie viewer.

Malick is hailed as a quiet genius, so A-listers are often lined up to work with him. Same for the late Kubrick. 

Malick is more of a poet than filmmaker. The viewer guesses at what he is saying than feeling secure in knowing.

@MacEngelProf
tengel@star-telegram.com
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Comments

Brandt Hardin

The Academy certainly went with much higher brow nominees this year which I think will lose them a large portion of their young audience. After doing better at being in touch with the public the past two years, these stiff nominees just fall flat. I usually have something in common with the choice but not this year- if the contenders seem stuffy to you, check out my own Top 10 Movie Picks of 2011 at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/01/top-10-movie-picks-of-2011.html where you won’t see a single of the Academy’s nominees for Best Picture but you will get some movie artwork I drew up as well as the reviews!

K. Bowen

You get out of a film what you bring to it. One of the beauties of The Tree of Life is it lets us know who really has taste.

Jef

I bet the really snobby film buffs would prefer a movie that takes place in France (like some of the others) - not the middle of middle America, Texas, with regular people as the main characters.

Harvissa

I'm so glad to see your minority opinion. I frequently like erudite movies, but IMHO this is not one of them. As you said, we need dialog we can hear! A story we can follow! It's great to attempt to make a movie about "life", but perhaps it's not possible. As your high school English teacher told you, Focus on something specific that you know something about. Alas, Malick hasn't learned that lesson.

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