Last night I saw the much acclaimed Tree of Life, the new Terrence Malick film. My first reaction was that I hated it, though after thinking about it a bit, I now simply didn't like it. It was way too long, way too ambitious and way too bizarre. Malick was basically relating the creation of the universe, earth, and the cycle of life, juxtaposed with a fairly traditional story of Texas family with a complicated father-son relationship. There was an attempt to relate the two aspects, but on that count, I think it failed miserable. It reminded me a lot of 2001, but much less compelling. On the bright side, there was some great acting, especially from the kid playing Brad Pitt's oldest son; and his wife, played by Jessica Chastain. Brad Pitt was good, not great and Sean Penn literally sleepwalked through the role. Other than internal dialogue, I doubt if he spoke more than a dozen words. Some critics, as well as the Cannes Film Festival was raving about this film, but to me they're raving lunatics. Just because a film is ambiguous, impressionistic, and beautifully shot (which it was, particularly the cosmic stuff - there's even a dinosaur in it, one of my favorite parts) doesn't make it a masterpiece.
Oh, well. What I did enjoy a lot more was Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. Of course, I love Woody Allen, but this was a lot of fun. Owen Wilson was one fo the better Woody "stand-ins", though I didn't much care for Rachel McAdams as his wife. But, Marion Cotillard as a fantasy/love interest, was magnifiique! Also some great turns by actors playing famous people, whom I won't mention for fear of giving away the plot, in case you don't know it or haven't seen it. What we've also been really into are these grade-b film noirs from the 40's and 50's with people like Edward G. Robinson, Gene Tierney and Victor Mature. With titles like Scarlet Street, I Wake Up Screaming, and Whirlpool. Kind of campy and dated, but really interesting to see and quite a counterpoint to today's movies, like Tree of Life. Linear, logical, slow to develop and adhering to Hollywood's morality code of that time. All the bad guys and "loose" women eventually get theirs. And the most risque scenes involve kissing. A welcome relief from genital sexting!