Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Waiting for Malick

The news that Terrence Malick's new vision, The Tree of Life has been pushed back a further year is slightly disappointing, yet unsurprising, as here is a director, reknowned for his elusive nature and perfectionism. The struggling film distributor, Apparition (who brought us the superlative Bright Star) have sold the rights to the aforementioned picture to indie stalwarts, Fox Searchlight. From an awards point of view, a 2011 release could be a shrewd move, instead of hiding it in some ridiculous December 31 slot at one L.A.-based cinema, plus Fox Searchlight have enjoyed previous success, albeit with mostly indie dramadies such as Sideways, Little Miss Sunshine and Juno, oh and that pretty but vacant picture called Slumdog Millionaire.

But what matters more than silly awards, is the emotions cinema is able to create and give to our tiny minds and like his fellow great auteurs, a new Terrence Malick picture is an event. A supposed early 'secret' screening of the film describes The Tree of Life as 'hypnotic', it's visuals as 'jawdropping' and even compares it to elements of Kubrick's seminal 2001: A Space Odyssey. So yes, I can hold on a while longer if this is what awaits us but hype is a strange beast and except in marketing, usually a dangerous mindset. I personally tend to avoid trailers and early reviews for films I'm heavily anticipating, such as the already much written aboutBlack Swan directed by the excellent Darren Aronofsky, as one usually finds the less baggage one takes into a virginal artistic experience, the more honest an appraisal can be formed . Therefore, to prevent overexcitement, perhaps I should take my own advice and avoid following this baby so closely.

Four films in thirty two years is not going to win Malick any Woody Allen or Fassbinder prizes for prolific operating but hey it's quality not quantity and all that. Today I would rank his filmography as:

The connection these four films share are their visual splendour, rural settings, the theme of Man's relationship with nature and a structure and atmosphere recalling the classic American novels of the early twentieth century. As I have experienced, second (and more) viewings are essential with Malick's pictures, as they further enhanced my appreciation for the technical ability, subtext and the overiding cerebral pleasures, which few artists are capable of touching.

Coming Up: As stated in the previous autuer-themed post, Malick is planning to pick up the pace a little with a new feature in pre-production, a romantic drama starring Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams, and a Jerry Lee Lewis biopic is also rumoured - steady on sir!

Do you have a favourite Terrence Malick film or moment?
Any views on the subject of hype?


  1. I am not a Malick devotee but I can see why he's so amazing. I love the way he influences people like David Gordon Green and heck even Jane Campion in "Bright Star".
    My fave of his movies is "The New World" because it's the only one in which I felt something other than awe at the technical stuff. I know a movie isn't supposed to make us "feel" and crap but it was the first Malick movie I saw in which I could feel nature's connection with the characters.

  2. Although I did rather gush, I would rate Badlands as his only 'A' rated piece of work, whilst the other three have all gone up a notch or two through subsequent viewings. One does have to be in that mood/zone for his films.

    Is David Gordon Green going back to that place, as whilst I did enjoy Pineapple Express, he was demonstrating some intriguing potential and atmospheres within his first few films.

    I guess either way, he's still only 35!

  3. "I know a movie isn't supposed to make us "feel" and crap"

    Jose, that's news to me :)


    (I can't remember The Thin Red Line....and that's the only Mallick I've seen. Yes, vile and loathsome - I KNOW.)

  4. i'm yet to see a Malick film...I feel I've got a lot of watching to do