Terrence Malick

Terrence Malick has long been thought of as a difficult-to-work-with perfectionist. He once went a stretch of twenty years without making any movies at all, and when he is actively making them, they usually only come out once every five years or so. But lately he’s been filming things at a pace completely new to his career. After finishing his 2011 release The Tree of Life, he jumped pretty directly into making a still-untitled romantic film starring Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams. Also, there have been rumblings that even before that film was finished, Malick had already lined up another movie that would star Christian Bale. It turns out that wasn’t all of the story, though. In somewhat shocking news, Variety is reporting that Malick already has plans to make two more movies, which will shoot back to back in 2012. The common thread between both films is that they will star Bale and Cate Blanchett in featured roles, but this isn’t some kind of series. Both films are separate stories, completely independent of one another. The first is said to be called Lawless, and in addition to Bale and Blanchett, Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, and Haley Bennett will also star. The second project will be called Knight of Cups, and will see actress Isabel Lucas join the duo.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news and tidbit (that word makes it giggle) column that is back in full swing this week. A special thanks to Cole Abaius for picking up the reigns last week while usual author Neil Miller was locked away in a 3×3 ft. cell in preparation for Fantastic Fest. No, there was not a reason for it. And yes, he has emerged ready for a bare-knuckle boxing match (or two). But first, the news… We begin tonight with a shot of Christian Bale and Terrence Malick walking through the crowds of the Austin City Limits music festival this past weekend here in Austin, TX. It caused quite a commotion with the crowds, many of whom were there to see acts like Bright Eyes, Stevie Wonder and Kanye West. As a surprise, they got T. Malick in that silly hat.

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Tonight during a hilarious Q & A with Nicolas Winding Refn‘s for his near-perfect film Drive — yes, it’s about as a perfect as a movie can get — the rising auteur dropped two interesting stories. For one, apparently Ryan Gosling will soon be working with Terrence Malick. Refn briefly mentioned that Gosling may do the project after he’s done with Only God Forgives, and before Logan’s Run. Obviously, this news means we’ll be getting the remake a little later than expected. Fortunately enough, Refn has another project to keep himself busy during that time.

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Usually when a filmmaker goes on a string of making a bunch of movies it’s nothing to bat an eyelash at. Hey, he’s a filmmaker, what did you expect? But when that filmmaker happens to be Terrence Malick, then it’s a whole other story. Malick is an infamous perfectionist who usually takes at least five years or so between everything he makes. Dude even waited twenty between Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line. It’s weird that despite the fact his newest film Tree of Life was just in theaters, he already has his next picture in the can. But it’s even weirder that before that picture has been put together and given a release date and what not, Twitch has already unearthed some information about the next movie he’s making a move on. Once he gets his Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams romance Voyage of Time out of the way, he’s said to be starting up a new film, which will star Christian Bale. That Bale is in the film shouldn’t come as a surprise, he’s worked with Malick before in The New World and he almost took the role Affleck eventually filled in Voyage of Time; but the fact that we look to be getting three Malick movies in two years is a gigantic shock. Who put what in this guy’s Wheaties? Does Malick know something that we don’t, or did he just blow all his money on a gambling debt or something?

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s not getting on that horse, that’s for sure. Instead it is here to bring you the big and the small, the best and the worst, the interesting and not so interesting movie news of the day. Then it will get on that horse and ride off into the sunset. Tonight’s lead image is actress Ruth Wilson. Get a good look, as you’ll soon be seeing her again. This star of BBC’s Luther and Masterpiece Theater’s latest version of Jane Eyre beat out the likes of Jessica Chastain and Abbie Cornish to win the leading lady part in The Lone Ranger opposite Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp.

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Culture Warrior

I’ll be the first to admit that the title of this post is a tad hyperbolic. The box office should not necessarily be forgotten, and it does, to an extent, matter. Predicting openings, percentage drops, and analyzing receipts present an interesting way to interact with movies as well as provide one of many ways to attempt an understanding of audiences in terms of evolving trends and patterns, as our own Jeremy Kirk does so astutely twice a week. Waiting until the early afternoon every Sunday to see the weekend’s estimations has been part of my weekly Internet routine for as long as I’ve been a movie nerd. Box office is, simply put, a part of the conversation. But we aren’t movie executives. Our investment is the box office is tied only to our social, emotional, and intellectual engagement with the films that sell tickets. The amount of tickets sold to see the product should never be confused with the product itself, and box office has severe limitations and problems in terms of understanding audiences’ relationship to a film. My concern with the ways we interact with and form conversations around box-office is not in regard to whether we should have such conversations at all, but the problematic meanings we routinely extrapolate from these numbers. To be frank, unless you work for a movie studio, a movie’s worth is never measurable in numbers. I concede that this is an obvious point, but unfortunately the box office continues to disproportionately dominate so […]

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God, you gotta love Uwe Boll. Whether or not you despise his films like most of the online community, the man isn’t afraid of making headlines. Now he’s delivered one of my favorite stories in recent memory: Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life is a “piece of shit” and Lars von Trier is “retarded.” As one expects, Boll didn’t pull his punches when it came to discussing The Tree of Life, “I totally hated that movie because I feel as a filmmaker that besides the fact that Terrence Malick did some great visuals on some movies, also on The New World, like the opening of that movie was really good but then he completely lost it. I think Tree of Life is a piece of shit. I think Sean Penn is ridiculous in it, like walking around in the elevator,” and Boll really isn’t the first to take a jab at those Penn scenes, although he is the only person I know to equate Malick’s epic to feces.

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The Tree of Life isn’t a film for everyone. You have to meet it halfway, it tests your patience at times, and it doesn’t fit normal storytelling conventions. If a viewer isn’t at all into experimental filmmaking and doesn’t know what “non-linear” means, then it’s most likely not a film for them. Because of this, some filmgoers should probably do their homework before going to Terrence Malick’s epic. “Brad Pitt? Sean Penn? Dinosaurs? And the creation of earth!?! Awesome!” Some patrons must’ve gotten that impression, and the art house Avon Theater in Stamford, CT is responding to those theatergoers who would prefer a refund, rather than enduring a two and a half hour poem. Here’s the “no refund” warning the theater put out:

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Culture Warrior

You’d be hard-pressed to find two filmmakers who are more wildly different than Woody Allen and Terrence Malick. One is a notably prolific and economic filmmaker who still releases one movie a year well into his senior years, while the other is a perfectionist who labors over his films and has thus far released, on average, barely more than one movie per decade. One has an unmistakable public persona, while the other is a notorious recluse. One makes films about life in a great city, while the other turns his lens to nature and the experience of the rural. One is as much an atheist as his characters, while the other is a spiritualist who searches for “God,” whatever that may be, through the lens of the camera. Allen and Malick are, in many ways, perfect opposites. But after watching the strong new work by each of these talented filmmakers this past weekend, it became apparent that, at least in the shared thematic preoccupations of Allen’s Midnight in Paris and Malick’s The Tree of Life, these two ostensibly dissimilar filmmakers may have more in common than meets the eye.

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The Tree of Life is a film that, as most of you have surely already noticed, will be hailed for its beauty and visual ecstasy. Everyone will discuss how every frame could make for a great photo or whether or not Terrence Malick is actually saying something with all those incredibly long non-narrative shots, but thematically, Malick backs up his eye-candy. While the headline title and statement made by actress Jessica Chastain could be read as being very hyperbolic, it couldn’t be closer to the truth. The Tree of Life does not hit the standard narrative beats, something that will either excite or annoy viewers. When there’s a 20-minute sequence of seeing the beginning of time unfold, you’ll quickly realize you’re not watching your typical drama. Here’s what Jessica Chastain had to say in our quick conversation about the film’s truthful exploration of childhood memories, the film’s structure, how Malick’s scripts read, and her interpretation of the ending.

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Drawn in at first by the ashy drawing of a rabbit smoking a corn cob pipe, I watched the trailer for General Orders No. 9 and then sat in silence for more than a few moments trying to understand what was happening. At a loss, I resorted to reading the synopsis: “Awarded for its visionary cinematography, GENERAL ORDERS No. 9 breaks from the constraints of the documentary form as it contemplates the signs of loss and change in the American South. The stunning culmination of over eleven years’ work from first time writer-director Bob Persons, GENERAL ORDERS No. 9 marries experimental filmmaking with an accessible, naturalist sensibility to tell the epic story of the clash between nature and man’s progress, and reaches a bittersweet reconciliation all its own. Told entirely with images, poetry, and music, GENERAL ORDERS No. 9 is unlike any film you have ever seen. A story told in maps, dreams, and prayers, it is one last trip down the rabbit hole before it’s paved over.” Apparently there’s some competition facing Tree of Life for “Most Inaccessible Film of the Summer.” That’s always a good thing.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr follows Jamie Chung to Thailand, hoping to get married. Unfortunately, someone slips him roofies, which made him black out and spend a drunken night in Bangkok. Once he got out of that city, he headed over to China to become the new pot-bellied dragon warrior. After all, if a cartoon panda can do it, why can’t he? That didn’t stop him from spending another night in the hospital, and maybe a little time in a Bangkok jail. And then the real horror happened… Kevin saw The Tree of Life.

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Each Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar, there’s an extraordinary prayer read in synagogue. Called the “Unetanneh Tokef,” it evokes the awesome power of judgment day, extolling God’s capacity for punishment, his propensity for mercy and man’s insignificance in the face of it all. I thought of the third part of that prayer while watching The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick’s ambitious, meditative stab at codifying the cosmos. It gets close to the essence of the reclusive auteur’s much-anticipated new picture: “A man’s origin is from dust and his destiny is back to dust. At risk of his life he earns his bread; he is likened to a broken shard, withering grass, a fading flower, a passing shade, a dissipating cloud, a blowing wind, flying dust, and a fleeting dream.” In paralleling the origins of the universe with flashes from the everyday 1950s childhood of a young boy from Waco, Texas, Malick’s film captures the ethereal nature of life. Beginning with the Big Bang and the dinosaurs and cycling through Jack O’Brien’s (Sean Penn) memories of his youth — of ballgames on the lawn during muggy summer nights, his younger brother’s warm gaze, contentious family dinners and the first stirrings of sexual feelings — Malick offers one man’s story writ large and small.

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Criterion Files

Some films represent to many the indefinable expression of a dream. Often times it’s nightmarish, as that’s what we can easily discern as being particularly dream-like because those are the dreams we tend to never forget. They haunt us, indefinitely, and some filmmakers are keen to capture that sense of uncomfortable fear of the odd, or non-understandable. Filmmakers like David Lynch and David Cronenberg seem to know it and are willing to explore and share it.

Then, there are some films that don’t necessarily look a dream, but feel like a familiar one that you don’t fully remember; because it’s too grounded to feel fantastic, but too gorgeously free so as to feel slightly detached from reality. It’s dramatic, but not “dramatic.” It’s not void of human emotional expression, but not entirely engagingly emotional. It’s both wonderful and disturbed. It’s affectingly confusing to your senses. Like a dream.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the only nightly movie news column to be cast in both The Dark Knight Rises and The Hunger Games. It will play the same character in both: a movie news column that, after delivering the news unto the people, rides off into the sunset on a badass motorcycle. It will make sense in context in both films, we promise. We begin tonight with an image of Jack Black in Richard Linklater’s black comedy Bernie, about a small-town mortician who makes friends with an elderly woman (played by Shirley MacLaine). The mustache looks creepy, but the last time Black and Linklater teamed up (School of Rock), Black was at his best. Here’s hoping that happens again when the film opens next month’s LA Film Festival.

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This year at Cannes was a year of firsts. It was a first for FSR to cover it (a situation that the larger press seemed to ignore entirely), but it was also the first time in nearly two decades that an American actress took home the Best Actress Award (known as the Prix d’interprétation féminine if you’re nasty). Kirsten Dunst took home the top acting prize for her performance in Melancholia despite its director Lars Von Trier being permanently (for the foreseeable future) kicked out of the festival. From 1985 to 1993, there was a solid run of American actresses earning the award. In that 9-year span, Americans chalked up 5 wins: Cher, Barbara Hershey twice, Meryl Streep and Holly Hunter. Then, nothing. Until now. On top of that, Tree of Life became the first American film since Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004 to win the Palme d’Or. Unfortunate rhymes aside, that’s a pretty stirring achievement (although it’s not nearly as significant as Dunst’s streak-ending win considering that 3 other American films (Pulp Fiction, Elephant, and Michael Moore’s documentary) won the Golden Palm in the same time-frame between American actress wins). However, it is timely. This information shouldn’t be merely to support a sort of nationalistic pride, but also to support cinematic pride in general. The tone of the conversation in this country is often negative because there’s an industry out there that is obsessed with bottom lines and not nearly as concerned about quality or storytelling. However, these wins (at […]

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Wouldn’t you bloody well know it. Before the festival was tarnished by the Von Trier/Nazi scandal, all anyone seemed interested in talking about was the way Terrence Malick‘s latest had split the audiences in attendance almost straight down the middle. Not only that, The Tree of Life also inspired a rejuvenated debate over the nature of film, and the sometimes opposing ideals of entertainment and art. I ended my review stating that your reception of the film would depend entirely on what you valued more in your film-making experience, and it seems we now know that the Jury values the art of something over its entertainment value. Neither approach is necessarily right or wrong, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the film was already chosen before even the first minutes of footage rolled. Held up to the light, The Tree of Life looks exactly like a Cannes film, something eccentric enough, with grand enough aspirations and some sort of importance that extends beyond what we can actually see. And that troubles me somewhat: should a film win because it fits the artistic manifesto of the festival, or should it win on quality? Robert DeNiro‘s comment after the decision answers precisely that: It seemed to have the size, the importance, the tension to fit the prize. Not, “it was fantastic,” not “it moved me,” but it fit the bill.

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as Raptureness316 and TMal4TheWin in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the pair try to avoid being pretentious at all costs while discussion The Tree of Life, dismissive reactions to art we don’t understand or like, and the nature of randomness in creation. What is art? And what does Hitler have to do with it?

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Criterion Files

In anticipation of Terrence Malick’s much-buzzed and much-argued-about Tree of Life, Adam and Landon are doing a two-part series on Malick’s films in the Criterion Collection. Part 1 – The Thin Red Line. The Thin Red Line (1998) is a film that accomplished many things. Least of which is the fact that, as the film was released twenty years after his previous completed work Days of Heaven, it established Terrence Malick as still a working filmmaker. While Malick had developed and abandoned several projects in the two decades that straddled his second and third feature films, the notoriously private director temporarily retired to France and workshopped a variety of screenplays and stage plays that, for one reason or another, never manifested. Though Malick’s sparse filmography hardly grants him a persona of being a prolific artist, his twenty-year filmmaking “hiatus” was never a hiatus at all, but was instead brimming with activity for potential projects. The Thin Red Line, then, should be thought of not as a decided return to filmmaking which assumes that the film is either a project twenty years in the making or the only thing he came across in twenty years worth making (as an academic who almost completed his doctorate and as a working journalist before becoming a filmmaker, part of the mystery surrounding the very private Malick is that filmmaking is simply one of several trades that define him – he’s like a far less public James Franco). The Thin Red Line may be more […]

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with Louder Than a Bomb director Greg Jacobs and get an update on how Cannes is shaping up from Simon Gallagher. Plus, Eric D. Snider from Film.com and our very own Matt Patches enter the squared circle of our Movie News Pop Quiz. Then, we spend less than 15 minutes defining art. Take that, thousands of years of philosophy. We get the job done here at Reject Radio, so kick off you shoes and stay awhile. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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