Posts Tagged ‘classics’

My students Polly Pocket Girl and Big Jim Dude (they are dating by the way) asked me this week a question: Did you like  [Terrence Malick`s] The Tree of Life?

The first reply couldn’t be more spontaneous: HUM! Because that question doesn’t have an easy answer but here’s a try:

The virtual impossibility of Hollywood to make new icons (think for instance in the new Steven Splieberg’s Tintin film mixed with Indiana Jones’ DNA), the perpetual remakes or all the superheroe movies from recent years are just some examples, clear examples about the creativity crisis cinema is suffering.

Nowadays, it seems that there is other cinema where films are not just entertainment but the true art form that has been neglected to films mainly for economic reasons: an entertaining film makes big bucks, intelligent films don’t.

Films like Uncle Boonmee (Apichatpong Weerasethakul), last year’s Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and now The Tree of Life, seem to dictate the tendency of this “other cinema”.

This French Riviera festival has been known to legitimise trends by judging awards from the past: François Truffaut’s 400 Blows and Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima Mon Amour for the French New Wave; the Dardenne Brothers’s Rosetta for the New European Realism or Thomas Vinterberg’s Celebration for Dogme 95 just to name a few.

The Tree of Life feels a lot like an experimental film disguised as a mainstream film: big stars appear on it like Brad Pitt (also one of the producers of the film) and Sean Penn, two of the greatest actors in Hollywood.

This new Terrence Malick’s film has no plot therefore, the synopsis can just be a thin stroyline (a family with three kids  in the late 1950’s and its dynamics) that serves just as a pretext to talk about very important subjects: guilt, pain, growing up, love, parenthood, in short, it talks about life and its different stages.

If you expect to see a shirtless Brad Pitt from the unbearable Legends of the Fall, the greatness of this actor is that he is now choosing roles according to his age evolution. In this one, he plays an apparently cruel family man who prepares his kids for the cruelty of real life by being distant and authoritarian.

The film depicts us self-contained characters, great acting and over all transmits us states of mind and conciousness (or unconciousness for that matter) for us to think about (one of the great sins of Hollywood or Mexican mainstream  television: make us think!!!) rather than a straight storyline.

It’s what Ray Carney wrote in the foreword of Rick Schmidt’s excellent book Feature Filmmaking at Used-Car Prices back in 2000: Make a movie that is narratively inconclusive or open to different interpretations. (Yet another sin!)

The cinematotography by Emmanuel Lubezki is simply breathtaking. The camera work is exquisite.

After the morally objectionable The Thin Red Line (the enemy is actually shown as the “bad guys” when  the film screamed for a more complex good vs. bad story) and the Valium-esque The New World (actually I prefer Disney’s Pocahontas!!! and that’s an over-statement), Malick offers us a film that is not to like or not but to contemplate with clear resonance to the metaphysical works of Ingmar Bergam (even actress Jessica Chastain has a striking ressemblance to a young Liv Ullmann), Carl Theodor Dreyer or Robert Bresson.

Famously reclusive Terrence Malick studied philosophy and it shows in this film as Jean-Luc Godard declared that cinema is the modern way to make philosophy: The Tree of Life is a clear example of it.

Have a great week and remember: in the cinema, the guy who has the final word is always the one who sells the pop-corn!

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Forgive me father for I have sinned! It’s been almost five years since my last confession. I haven’t been to the cinema as often as needed and I didn’t honour the filmmaking art for almost three years. Well, if you thought this was a religious post, in a way you’re right since for me cinema and the ritual of going to the movie theatre has been like a religion. I used to write some collaborations for the Mexican daily newpaper unomásuno and my last “confession” was on late 2006.

Anyway, for several reasons, Sundays for me have been the most boring days of the week during all my life: I don’t attend church, I don’t like sports (to watch or practice for that matter) and I don’t have a big family (so, there are no gatherings). It’s a day in limbo where I must be prepared for Monday but there are no other options.

The only interesting stuff that happened on Sundays when I was a child was the fact that when my grandfather – in the unlikely event there was no soccer match on tv- left the tv for us to watch, we (there used to be more Bunts back then) gathered around the only colour tv set in the house to watch film classics like Easter Parade, On the Town, Anchors Aweigh or That’s Entertainment!  just to name a few.  Paradoxically, to this date I don’t like musicals.

Going to the actual movie theatre was not an option since under her  judgemental stare, my grandmother prevented us from going since she considered that only on Sundays “the help” was attending cinemas. So I was pretty much stuck in that week limbo.

So in this column I will talk precisely about neglected films, cult classics that the world forgot, one or two surprises that got into the theatres for a week, the ever-changing transition cinema is facing and some other stuff about what’s happening in the Mexican movie scene and I am very happy to collaborate in this blog since back in my film journalism days at unomásuno, I needed to be more “objective” but now I can loose myself into subjectivity.

So I welcome you, the reader, to come back every now and then to see our twodopeboyz blog and comment, suggest or whatever it’s in you to share. This column is for you too.

Next week I’ll start formally with the first film I’ll review: Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life. Not that neglected after all since it got the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival but you’ll see what I mean.

Have a great week and remember: in the cinema, the guy who has the final word is always the one who sells the pop-corn!

For the Spanish-speaking readers, these are almost all my collaborations in the past: