From the end of the world we arrive back at the beginning. Writer-director Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life is the much anticipated and long-awaited new film from a director who makes Stanley Kubrick look prolific. Utilizing Kubrick’s sense of the wonder that cinema can evoke (ala’ 2001: A Space Odyssey), Malick gives us a visually astonishing and philosophically perplexing prelude about the birth of the cosmos only to crash us back down to earth and juxtapose it with his tale of a Christian family in 50s suburban Texas led by a fierce, stoic patriarch (Brad Pitt), an ethereal, faith-embued mother (Jessica Chastain) and troubled pre-teen Jack (Hunter McCracken) who finds his relationship with his parents (particularly his demanding and overbearing father) to be quite difficult. Sean Penn appears as the still troubled youth all grown-up and facing the vast questions surrounding the great unknown.
Monthly Archives: May 2011
Jodie Foster’s The Beaver picked up on her friend and Maverick co-star Mel Gibson’s personal troubles and managed in her third directorial dramedy (after Little Man Tate and Home for the Holidays) to dramatize them with a very odd, sometimes funny and immensely moving screenplay by Kyle Killen. Father, husband and terminally depressed toy manufacturer Walter Black (Gibson) finds himself on the verge of suicide one night and ultimately finds a second lease on life, as it were, thanks to a beat-up old beaver puppet. The puppet provides Walter with a new voice that distances himself from the “negative aspects of his personality” (alcoholism and probably bi-polar disorder). Walter’s wife (Foster) and grown son (Anton Yelchin) find this at first disturbing and unnerving only to find new value in their relationship to him. Again, as someone who has lived with mental illness in his family, this film is surprisingly powerful…once you get past the patently absurd premise.