Posts Tagged ‘movies’

The Tree of Life

July 3rd, 2011

I saw Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life yesterday, and when I left the theatre, around midnight, and crossed the parking lot, the trees and lights and cars looked more sharply focused, with clearer, more saturated colors, brighter highlights, more richly detailed shadows, than they had before, and everywhere I turned my eyes was full of life and motion, even though there was no wind.  It’s a powerful film.

There is no narrative as such, although there are narrative elements, and much of the central third seems roughly chronological.  There’s a man, Jack, who is now a successful businessman in some major city.  He may be an architect.  He’s having some sort of crisis of identity in his profession.  Much of the film focuses on his life as a boy in Waco, Texas, in the nineteen fifties.  The focal point of view in these sections is Jack’s, mostly, but it is unclear whether we are seeing things as they happened or as he now remembers them.  His mother is idealized.  He was a troubled early adolescent.  (Who isn’t?)  His relationship with his father was and remains troubled.  His father’s relationship with himself and with the mother was troubled.  Jack is the eldest of three brothers.  The middle one, the sensitive, musically creative one, died at the age of nineteen, devastating the mother.   The movie doesn’t tell us how or why he died.   The youngest brother was just sort of there, a mere vague presence, so far as Jack was concerned.  At the end of the movie, Jack experiences some sort of reconciliation with his brother’s death and his father’s emotionally brutal masculinity and other issues residual from his childhood.  He looks up at the cold, glassy skyscrapers he inhabits and smiles, a warm, embracing smile.

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A new remedy for soul deficiency!

August 27th, 2010

I have found a perfect remedy for the soul-deficient phantasmagoria of Avatar – which I’ll admit I enjoyed, being as shallow and escapist as the next guy – in a movie of brilliant colors and exotic, dramatic settings, about a culture so alien that ordinary American vocabulary barely can describe its workings and relationships, mixing technologies both ancient and new, focused on reincarnation and the survival of ancient teachings, and (here’s the kicker) a deadpan factual narrative, taking place just a few years ago on our planet earth.  Called Unmistaken Child, it follows a young Buddhist monk, Tenzin Zopa, as he seeks and finds the reincarnation of his deceased spiritual master, Geshe Lama Konchog.

OK, “replacement” not “reincarnation” for you skeptics out there.  The movie plunks us squarely down in Tenzin Zopa’s frame of reference, in which it’s not an issue.  For those inclined to debate on such subjects, there’s little here to change anyone’s mind, although the astrologer consulted by the monks (via video from Taiwan) as to the Lama Konchog’s post mortem whereabouts scores two fairly impressive hits when he says that the child’s father’s name begins with “A” and the location has the letters “TS” in its name.  When the infant candidate, a year or two old, demonstrates his creds by selecting objects that belonged to the deceased Lama from among similar objects with

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