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Posts Tagged ‘Nature Porn’

Haiku Review: ‘The Tree of Life’

August 24, 2011

This is the first film
For which a Haiku Review
Is appropriate

Earlier this spring I embarked on what can only be called a “navel-gazing cinematic odyssey” when, alongside roommate Tim Goessling, I sat down to watch all the Terrence Malick movies I’d been avoiding my entire life. MARATHON! It’s easy to understand the hesitation, I hope — Malick’s movies aren’t known for their accessibility or whimsy, and even his shorter entries are supposed to last forever. Why ruminate on the existential plight of man as told through the reflection of a butterfly when there are Jackasses to be punched in the nuts? But as an Art Lover with glasses — or at least, at the time, the need for glasses — I knew it was my responsibility to at some point get down to business.

So I did. Badlands. Days of Heaven*. The Thin Red Line. The New World. All chewed on, swallowed, and digested in the hopes that I might accomplish two things: 1) be able to hold my head high at THOSE kinds of parties and 2) walk into The Tree of Life, at that point the 2011 Palme d’Or winner, with something less than complete ignorance. Over several weeks Tim and I became very familiar with what we’ll call “Terry’s Tics” — those narrative and stylistic choices you see again and again in the filmmaker’s work. Extensive voiceover, for starters. An obsession with “innocence,” especially as exemplified by nature. People living on the fringes of society. Man’s inhumanity to man. Bible passages. Whispering. Classical music. Donkey shows.

The Tree of Life, if you must know, manages to take every one of those tics, marry it to every thought Terry’s ever had, and somehow birth an occasionally coherent — and always beautiful — examination of What It Means To Be Alive. Let’s see how!

Follow us into the void, won’t you?

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