Posts tagged “Terrence Malick

The Tree of Life (2011)

Film #16: The Tree of Life (2011)

The Tree of Life is probably the most controversial film nominated for an Oscar this year. It’s not controversial because of any graphic violence. It’s not controversial because of any sexual imagery. Rather, it’s controversial because some people have complained that it’s too “artsy”. Too “experimental”. People have literally walked out of theaters during the film. They’ve even demanded refunds, apparently because they didn’t “get it”. I’ve gone through the IMDb message boards for this movie, and it’s riddled with posts asking “what’s the point?”. I knew all of this before sitting down for Terrence Malick’s latest endeavor (his first since 2005’s The New World), and, as such, I was prepared for some real Stan Brakhage-type craziness.

Instead, I got a quiet, philosophical, and admittedly ambitious film that is among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.


2012 Oscars Drinking Game (infographic!)


2012 Oscar Plans and Drinking Game

EDIT: For a quick infographic with the Official JAJ 2012 Oscars Drinking Game, go here.

I’ve never posted anything besides a review on this blog, but I’m more than just an amateur film critic, dear reader – I’m a human being, too. I have dreams and desires. And plans. Plans for the Academy Awards this Sunday!

Although I’m not an indiscriminate fan of the film industry – I’ve got problems with the MPAA and the current trend for films to be painfully unoriginal, to name a few – I do make it a habit to watch the Oscars every year. It’s kind of my Super Bowl, not being into sports and all.

I usually have a few people over and we play an Oscars drinking game. Every year since I started doing this (2008), I’ve managed to catch at least all of the Best Picture nominees prior to the awards show (the exception being last year when I missed three of them – The Kids Are All Right, True Grit, and Winter’s Bone).

This year, all of those traditions were in jeopardy. I no longer live at my own place, I’ve yet to see four of the Best Picture noms, and, much to my surprise, Google couldn’t provide me with a single Oscars drinking game for the show this year.

But James A. Janisse, Analytic Critic, is no quitter. No siree.

I made accommodations as far as my living arrangements go so that I can still have some peeps over, I’m devoting the next four days to catching up on Oscar fare, and I’ve decided that I’m experienced enough in this whole “Oscar Drinking Game”  situation that I can make my own.

So come here on Sunday and join me as I live-blog the Oscars. The live-blogging will get progressively more awesome as I continuously succumb to the first-ever Official JAJ Oscars Drinking Game (2012). I’m posting my unGodly creation below so that you can join me in this inebriating affair. See you on Sunday!

The Official JAJ Oscars Drinking Game (2012)

  • Take 1 drink any time…
    • …someone mentions Uggy the dog.
    • …someone makes a (liberal) political statement.
    • …someone mentions Whitney Houston.
    • …someone says “Wow” during their acceptance speech (1 drink per “wow”)
    • …the camera cuts to Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie
  • Take 2 drinks any time…
    • …someone thanks God in their acceptance speech.
    • …someone says “Scorsese”.
    • …someone says something that gets censored.
    • …a muppet appears onscreen.
    • …Billy Crystal makes reference to his hosting experiences in the past.
  • Take 3 drinks any time…
    • …someone’s acceptance speech gets interrupted by the orchestra playing them off.
    • …someone makes a (conservative) political statement.
    • …someone makes a reference to The Tree of Life being weird, experimental, pretentious, etc.
    • …there’s a mention of Michael Fassbender getting screwed over in these awards.
    • …there’s a reference to Twilight.

And the part of the game that will really test your resilience:
For every award being given, before the winner is announced, say:
1.) Which nominee you want to win
2.) Which nominee you expect to win

  • If the winner is the nominee you want to win, congratulations! Take 1 drink!
  • If the winner is the nominee you expect to win, you’re so smart! Take 2 drinks!
  • If the winner is a nominee you neither wanted or expected to win, learn from your mistakes! Take 3 drinks!
  • If the winner is the nominee that you both wanted and expected to win, nice job! GIVE 3 drinks out to someone else! (suggestion by Reddit user ajcfood)

Good luck on Sunday to all the Oscar nominees, and good luck to all of our livers!

–James A. Janisse

Badlands (1974)

Last week I watched Badlands , Terrence Malick’s feature debut. It was the first Malick film I’ve seen, but definitely won’t be the last. What a good movie.

True, it may seem a little dated by now. The film was made for a pretty low budget in the early 70s, so gunshot wounds aren’t more than a spot of red paint on the actors’ clothes. Also, Sissy Spacek’s narration, complete with her southern drawl, sometimes seems a little hokey, almost like it’s coming from an old novel. They’re just things you have to get over so you can look at the film for what it is.

And what the film is is wonderful. The performances are quiet and compellingly. Spacek and a very young Martin Sheen are the only consistent actors featured throughout the film, and it’s no problem at all that the film falls on their shoulders to carry. They’re excellent. The characters are so interesting. There’s no flattening of their motivations or feelings – they are conflicted humans who keep finding themselves in deeper and darker situations, and trying to deal with it. They’re not blindly in love; Spacek sees that Sheen’s a bit sociopathic, and acknowledges it. She wishes she was home more than she enjoys being by his side. But there’s no option for her but to go along with his crazy ideas and violent actions.

The best thing about the film is the cinematography. I know that this is Malick’s whole deal, so I’m not really discovering anything new, but no review of this movie would be complete without mentioning the gorgeous shots. Malick takes nature and puts it in the forefront of his movie. Sequences take their time as we explore the surroundings of the characters, from bugs to plants and everything in between. There’s a scene of a house burning down that is filmed in such a way that it becomes almost a dream. In fact the whole film has a sort of dreamlike quality, despite the violence that infects it.

The movie takes no rush to get where it wants to go, but it’s fine. It still has a sense of motion, and is constantly building. Malick gets away with long shots of vistas and nature because every scene builds in the conflict of the characters, and raises the stakes. By the middle of the movie, you know there’s no way these two can turn back. By the end, you wonder how they made it so far.

Some of the music didn’t seem to age as well as the visuals, but it’s okay. Though at times it seems almost melodramatic to have such powerful music accompanying some scenes, it works on a certain level. Most of all, there’s no denying that there is a clear voice and influence behind this movie. It’s not a cookie-cutter studio film to make money, it is Malick’s baby, raised and nurtured by only him, and reflective of his image. It’s a fantastic feature debut, and I’m looking forward to seeing his other three films.

Final rating: 8/10

–James A. Janisse