The Tree of Life reviews

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Re: The Tree of Life reviews

Postby Johnny Guitar » Fri Jun 17, 2011 7:54 am

For anyone interested in Malick, I came across a link to this article on facebook - it's on The New World rather than The Tree of Life, but it covers some of the issues of Malick's aesthetics as well as his relationship to philosophy.

http://nonsite.org/issue-2/terrence-malicks-new-world

I've only started to read it. The author, Richard Neer, is a relatively young - but established - professor of art history who specializes in Ancient Greek art, but has published some excellent recent work on cinema (mainly Godard).

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Re: The Tree of Life reviews

Postby Johnny Guitar » Fri Jun 17, 2011 6:59 am

ITALIANO wrote:I also thought of Kubrick and his work with, say, Ryan O'Neal and Tom Cruise. Still - and this is very subjective, I can't prove it of course - I feel that in this case Brad Pitt did understand his character, that he got it. He was certainly very well directed, but his approach to the role didn't seem to me as passive as in those other cases.


Yes, I would agree with this - I think Pitt is a better actor than O'Neal or Cruise, and I think he was conscious of what Malick was aiming for too. He seems, here, not "passive" but ... very well-contextualized.

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Re: The Tree of Life reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Fri Jun 17, 2011 2:18 am

(Malick, indeed like Kubrick, frequently has a good instinct for how to use an actor's limitations to his films' advantage.)
[/quote]


I also thought of Kubrick and his work with, say, Ryan O'Neal and Tom Cruise. Still - and this is very subjective, I can't prove it of course - I feel that in this case Brad Pitt did understand his character, that he got it. He was certainly very well directed, but his approach to the role didn't seem to me as passive as in those other cases.

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Re: The Tree of Life reviews

Postby rolotomasi99 » Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:13 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVUXDn6hCY4

It seems Christopher Nolan and David Fincher are huge fans of THE TREE OF LIFE if they were willing to do this promo. Something tells me the film will find the 5% it needs for a nomination.
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Re: The Tree of Life reviews

Postby Johnny Guitar » Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:11 pm

My quick two cents, having seen The Tree of Life this afternoon - I loved the film and thought it was astounding on many levels. I have some reservations, many of them already voiced or hinted at by Uri's very perceptive demurral in an earlier post. But even such reservations, against the scale of what has been achieved here, can't detract from the film's power. The cinematography is beautiful and well-choreographed, true, but to me the editing is actually quite amazing. The connections and evocations that emerge between two shots, and the camera movements or images they connect, are expressive in a way that few films reach. As in, Gregory Markopoulos-level, in parts. That edit, the quick "falling" cut toward the mystery woman's torso after Sean Penn has walked through the doorway in the desert, for example ... things like that are actually difficult to make comprehensible and expressive without being caged in strict (and sterile) symbolism. I agree with Sabin (was it Sabin?) who posted that Jessica Chastain has a Liv Ullman-like face. And Brad Pitt's performance may well have been his best ever. It's certainly the best of his I've seen - well-done on his part, and very well-used on Malick's part. (Malick, indeed like Kubrick, frequently has a good instinct for how to use an actor's limitations to his films' advantage.)

As for Oscar chances - probably a handful of nominations, and no wins. Let's face it, this isn't an Oscar movie, and the only attention it will garner from the Academy will be from a sizable minority who either love it or feel like they "should" award it something, simply because it's so much more ambitious than the superhero franchises that now comprise 94% of Hollywood's output.

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Re: The Tree of Life reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Wed Jun 15, 2011 10:40 pm

I think J. Edgar and War Horse are strong contenders this year. Whether it will come down to those two films only, I doubt it, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if both were solid best picture contenders by the end of December.
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Re: The Tree of Life reviews

Postby rolotomasi99 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:49 pm

The Original BJ wrote:Don't we learn every year that it's silly to try and predict what the Best Picture "battle" will be as early as the summer? Remember Dreamgirls vs. Flags of Our Fathers?


We may have learned that, but all those blogs devoted to talking about nothing but the Oscars have to post about something. Do you really think they will be able to resist the read meat of a Eastwood vs Spielberg battle royale? Even if it is all in their heads, they will push it until something better comes along to write about.

With the new rules the Academy just announced concerning Best Picture, the math may have just changed for how much support THE TREE OF LIFE will need to earn a Best Picture nomination. I still think it has a very good chance, but since ten nominees are not guaranteed movies will really have to stand out to earn a nomination.
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Re: The Tree of Life reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:58 am

Well, even I - who have learned from experience to be pessimistic when it comes to the Oscars - can't imagine that the Academy will be able to find ten movies in this or any recent year which are better, or which they like better, than The Tree of Life. Plus, in Italy the movie has been, and still is - if certainly not an Avatar-like box-office champion - a respectable, long-running hit, and not only in big cities. I hope this can happen in the US too.

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Re: The Tree of Life reviews

Postby Sabin » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:28 am

Totally possible neither War Horse or J. Edgar make it into the race.

Yeah, there are passionate minorities that push films over the top, but I think the reason I think about the Academy having a hive mind is because they kinda do. I remember an article before the 2009 Oscars that cited WALL*E as being a possible beneficiary of this passionate group who all put the film as their number one choice, whereas The Curious Case of Benjamin Button had more fans but of a milder nature. And that didn't happen. They voted for the retirement home pick. We have ten films now and it's possible I guess that The Tree of Life could end up on a bevy of lists, but...I dunno...it's an art film. The Thin Red Line at least had the benefit of being about World War II. Even in a year of Saving Private Ryan, that's a plus compared to Gods and Monsters and The Truman Show.

In retrospect, I'm a little surprised that something as mediocre as Waking Ned Devine didn't make the final five.
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Re: The Tree of Life reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:33 pm

I sort of feel like if The Thin Red Line could make it into a field of FIVE (in a year when The Truman Show, Waking Ned Devine, and Gods and Monsters seemed to push more obvious Academy buttons), it's not at all a stretch to imagine The Tree of Life making a field of ten. I've often argued that hipper art-y movies that LOOK like Oscar-bait fare have a big leg up on ones that don't, and a period epic like Tree of Life fits that bill to a T. (Though, of course, it couldn't go further than a nomination.)

Don't we learn every year that it's silly to try and predict what the Best Picture "battle" will be as early as the summer? Remember Dreamgirls vs. Flags of Our Fathers?

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Re: The Tree of Life reviews

Postby rolotomasi99 » Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:16 pm

Sabin, you keep talking about the Academy like they are one big hive mind. They do not pick the ten Best Picture nominees altogether. Those ten nominees are chosen based on how passionately a small group of people feel about each film. With ten nominees, the number of votes required to be a Best Picture nominee is very small. Also, it is about passion not popularity. It is better to have 25 people put you as number one on their ballot than 50 people to put you as number 2 on their ballot. From what I have read, you only need 500 number 1 votes to be nominated for Best Picture. I think it is a good bet that there are 500 people in the Academy who will put THE TREE OF LIFE on the top of their ballot. I think if films like A SERIOUS MAN and WINTER'S BONE can earn nominations, than THE TREE OF LIFE will have no problem finding the required number of passionate supporters to earn a nomination. Cinematography and director nominations also seem like very good bets.

As for who will be winning Best Picture, right now the battle I think is between WAR HORSE and J EDGAR. I just cannot imagine how the Oscar blogs are going to resist pushing the "Battle of the Titans" angle. Will Clint or Steven earn a third Best Director win? Can J EDGAR finally do what BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and MILK could not, and win Best Picture despite its heavy gay content? Can WAR HORSE make up for the Academy's SAVING PRIVATE RYAN debacle? Clearly, the winner could be some small film which comes out of nowhere as the last few have been, but I think the focus will be on those two big prestige films. THE TREE OF LIFE will be winning all the critics awards, but it can only hope for Best Picture/Director nominations and maybe a win for Cinematography.
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Re: The Tree of Life reviews

Postby Sabin » Tue Jun 14, 2011 7:54 pm

Let me amend that: populist films.

I stand by my comment for the most part. If the Academy wasn't going to choose Winter's Bone, I think we can all agree it would have most likely been The Town. And if they weren't going to choose A Serious Man, then what? (500) Days of Summer or Star Trek? I mean, we could go back and forth on this, but you mentioned Black Swan as an example in favor of a possible The Tree of Life inclusion. Black Swan is an ersatz art film, an art movie. Dark? Sure, but it also spoon feeds audiences a mash-up of previously ignored tropes from Polanski, et al, and tantalizes them with hot lipstick lesbian action. The Tree of Life isn't dark by any means, but it is an Capital-A Art Capital-F Film.

It's far too soon to call these things, and I sincerely doubt Winter's Bone looked like any form of contender at this stage in the game last year, but there's just no precedent for The Tree of Life making the ten. There absolutely is a precedent for The Tree of Life making a clean sweep of the critic's groups and grabbing Lubeski his second ASC win (and third nomination after Children of Men and Sleep Hollow). He's not Deakins, but the man is due.
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Re: The Tree of Life reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:53 pm

Well, to take the points separately:

No, there's not a chance in hell of Tree of Life winning best picture -- not unless the electorate is transformed overnight into a group that might also have voted for Persona or Blue Velvet.

That second film is my point of reference for thinking about what awards future Tree of Life might have. Blue Velvet of course won the National Society's best picture prize, as well as director from both them and LA, and went on to clinch the lone director spot at the Oscars. I could see Tree of Life following a similar path (of course fully dependent on what the remainder of the year brings -- is it bountiful like '02 or '07, or thin like '03 or '05?), and then, solely because of the rule change, making it into the best picture ten. Sabin, I don't know why you'd suggest the expansion has only benefitted pleasant films. From what I can see, it's given life to films at both ends of the art spectrum -- Inception and Toy Story 3, but also Winter's Bone and Black Swan; The Blind Side, but also A Serious Man. If that last film could qualify as a best picture nominee, I see no reason why Tree of Life can't.

I'd agree that cinematography is the category where hope will congregate for a win. You may be right fans will be disappointed, but there's precedent on both sides: Thin Red Line lost (to an not-exactly-chopped-liver Saving Private Ryan), but Days of Heaven did manage the win. If Tree of Life can manage a few nominations in a package -- film, director, cinematogrpahy, maybe editing or score -- its shot at winning Lubezki a way-overdue Oscar would be solid.

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Re: The Tree of Life reviews

Postby Sabin » Tue Jun 14, 2011 5:12 pm

There is no way of knowing whether or not The Tree of Life will register strongly with Academy voters. I'm going to say not simply on a combination principle and a glut of year-end releases. The expansion of the nominees to ten has proven kinder to pleasant films rather than daring films, so a film like Midnight in Paris is more likely to benefit than The Tree of Life. It's certainly possible, but The Tree of Life strikes me as a sole nominee for Best Cinematography that prognosticators make leaps in predicting and wind up disappointed when something pedestrian wins instead.
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Re: The Tree of Life reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Tue Jun 14, 2011 2:31 pm

I'm glad that others seem to respond to this (honestly not exactly "easy") movie the way I did - and I must say that Tree of Life is still with me now, after so many days, weeks even, and this says alot about its staying power.

But the Oscars are something different, as we know. And it will be interesting to see which film will make Oscar history - in a negative way - as "the one that won over The Tree of Life". Because, yes, it's true, Malick and his movie WILL win several critics' awards, and this will certainly translate into a few Oscar nominations, including very possibly Best Picture. But nobody can imagine our dear old Academy seriously considering it for a win. It never happened before, there's no reason why it should change now. And I'm intrigued. After all, I wasn't there when the great works of art of American cinema lost, one by one, to inferior - though not necessarily bad - movies. You know, the days of Welles, Kubrick, Altman - I wasn't born yet or I was too young. And even when I saw The Thin Red Line, it was just a few days before the Oscars when I perfectly knew that it was between Saving Private Ryan and Shakespeare in Love. I thought that movie was great, but I didn't even vaguely think of it in Oscar terms.

Now it's different - we still have six months before the end of the year, and I'm curious to see which movie the Academy will pick as better than this (probably not perfect, but never less than impressive) attempt at Greatness.


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