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Showing posts from July, 2011

The Trip

We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us."   That bit of wisdom from Steinbeck's Travels With Charley not only speaks to the exciting, open-ended potential of travel, it also serves as a cautionary statement.   Plan all you like, the best and worst moments of your trip are just going to happen.  This applies as much to the likes of you and me as we take a modest excursion as it does to celebrities who decide to hit the road and document the experience for the entertainment if not benefit of their fellow man.  If you are such a luminary, a star even, and you set out upon the proverbial open road, the results just HAVE to be delightfully interesting, don't they?  Well....
If you have ever seen The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour - 60 minutes remarkably devoid of magic and mystery - you know that even a group of people among the most magnetic in the world to an audience of its time can be rendered dull if not insufferable from too vague a…


A coming of age film, it would seem, according to the quickly hardening 21st-century mold, involves a precocious outsider who's able to tell his or her story with all fluidity and style of a novelist.   All of this backed up by a perfectly modulated soundtrack of indie rock or nuggets plucked with the utmost discretion from the rock and roll past. 
Submarine makes no bones about being anything else but a coming of age film.  The fact is practically announced in a title card of sorts in which protagonist Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) proclaims that what follows is his biopic.  He also reminds his American audience of the existence of Wales, notes a couple of famous countrymen and women - Tom Jones, of course; Katherine Zeta Jones - and thanks us for never invading his country.  Later, somewhere between first heartbreak and post-hearbreak, young Oliver even uses the term, saying, "I'm not sure if I've come of age."  What is surprising about Submarine is how disctinct…

The Tree of Life

Life, the universe and everything.   It's tempting to appropriate the title of the third of Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker" novels toward the end of finding something big enough to do justice to Terrence Malick's fifth feature, The Tree of Life.  Of course, Adams' titles and books were full of whimsy and irony.   Both the great strength and dragging limitation of The Tree of Life is its absolute sincerity.  

Apparently first conceived as film called Q after his great Days of Heaven, this latest film from the writer/director is at least partially the fruition of that ambitious origins of life on Earth project.   For good and bad, The Tree of Life has the look and bursting at the seams feel of something that has been worked on and worked over for decades.

There is here all one usually finds in Malick.  There is the spare dialog which occurs often in the form of whispery statements, an evolution from the relatively conventional female voice-overs in Badlands and