Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lunch break Contemplation on Life

Tree of Life (2011) - Malick
Tree of Life
It is a noble attempt to visualize someone contemplating his life for five minutes in his office during a lunch break. But The Tree of Life as a film just doesn't work. It is a fluffy snoozefest, 'Cotton: the fabric of our lives' commercial stretched out for two and a half hours with a better quality National Graphic episode thrown in. An old photograph from one's own past can more effectively evoke such thoughts than that of Malick's pretty picture diorama.

It's beautiful I admit on many occasions and some of the details of growing up are beautifully done. My problem is not with its semi-narrative structure. I appreciate poetry as much as the next guy. It has to do with how it's put together. It's way, way too meandering. And the walk on the beach scene showcases Malick's gooey life affirming tendencies at its most cringe inducing worst.


Under the Volcano (1984) - Huston
Al Finney's boosy Brit diplomat the south of the border is fun to watch. But it's a bit too melodramatic for me. I've heard a lot about Malcolm Lowry's book that the film is based on, filled with symbolism, details and whatnot about the looming WWII. The ominous vocano, white horse, Day of the Dead are all there in the background but they don't make that much of an impact on the story of a man who can't get over his wife's infidelity. Solidly done, and Finney's great. But I couldn't get over how a scrumptious woman like Jacqueline Bisset would come crawling back for pale, flabby man who is drinking himself to hell. He gets away with saying hurtful things because he is drunk. I've always hated that passive aggressive tendency about drunks. It still makes me curious about the book.