Posts Tagged ‘The Tree of Life’

Ezra’s Top 10 Favorite Films Of 2011

Posted 01 Jul 2012 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

The Artist is a relentlessly entertaining love letter to silent film and cinema in general. Well, it’s that time once again, and as always, I didn’t get around to a lot of the films I would have liked to see – as I write this, a DVD of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris sits on my desk, glaring at me – but there comes a time when every movie lover has to call it a year. I have somewhat arbitrarily picked today as that time, so here now are my top 10 favorite films of 2011:

 

# 10) MELANCHOLIAanyone with whom I talk movies already knows how much I love Lars von Trier, and though this is definitely not my favorite of his films (2003’s Dogville still takes that honor), it is nonetheless a striking and powerful depiction of the nature of depression, as well as a highly unusual and compelling look at what the impending apocalypse might feel like. The stunning opening and closing sequences alone make this film impossible to ignore, or to forget.  Read More

Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia

Posted 22 Apr 2012 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Melancholia, Denmark / Sweden / France / Germany, 2011

Written and Directed by Lars von Trier

Melancholia is a very difficult and challenging film, and I can't honestly say I enjoyed every moment of it, but enjoyment is hardly the point when dealing with such a deep and intelligent examination of despair. Lars von Trier’s latest is by no means my favorite of his films, but I do feel much more charitable about than he apparently does. Here is what the great Danish artist / provocateur has to say, excerpted from his statement on the film’s official website: “This is cream on cream. A woman’s film! I feel ready to reject the film like a transplanted organ … I am confused now and feel guilty. What have I done? Is it ‘exit Trier?’ I cling to the hope that there may be a bone splinter amid all the cream that may, after all, crack a fragile tooth … I close my eyes and hope!”

As gifted a filmmaker as von Trier certainly is, he doesn’t seem to quite have the knack for self-promotion. Then again, this could be yet another example of the perverse, impish delight he seems to take in his own self-destruction, as most recently evidenced in his controversial “I am a Nazi” joke at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. This is oddly appropriate to Melancholia, which, as the title suggests, is largely about the mysterious, fascinating pull of deep, all-encompassing depression, as well as the beauty and peace to be found in the complete destruction of absolutely everything. In fact, the latter – the incredibly gorgeous apocalyptic images that bookend the film – mainly functions as a metaphor for the former. The planet Melancholia, which has supposedly been “hiding behind the sun,” threatens to destroy all life on Earth as it draws near, yet it is also described as the most beautiful sight we will ever see. Depression may be always lurking just behind the nurturing light of life, but when it finally shows itself, we find that it is more absorbing and actually enjoyable, in a perverse way, than happiness. Read More

The Tree Of Life

Posted 10 Jun 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

The Tree of Life, USA, 2011

Written and Directed by Terrence Malick

The Tree of Life is a beautiful and extraordinary film that will undoubtedly remain one of the best of this year or any other.

Terrence Malick is a truly extraordinary and enigmatic filmmaker; over the course of the last 38 years, he has directed only five films, each one of which is widely regarded as a consummate masterpiece. The beauty and complexity of his images are almost in a league of their own. Between the sheer cinematic perfection of his work and its anti-prolific output, he is reminiscent of perhaps the cinema’s greatest auteur, the late Stanley Kubrick. His latest film is likely his best work to date (I still haven’t seen 1978’s Days of Heaven, widely regarded as his greatest achievement up until now), and it certainly feels like his most personal, while simultaneously tackling the huge metaphysical ideas of Kubrick’s own greatest work, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

The Tree of Life is a staggeringly ambitious film that evokes not only the monumental beginnings of all existence in the universe, but also the tiny, specific details of ordinary lives; the result is a flawed but profound epic on the scale of 2001 with the emotional resonance that Kubrick’s more detached approach is often accused of lacking. It is also a film that deserves comparison to Darren Aronofsky’s extremely underrated masterpiece The Fountain (2006) in its themes of the interconnectedness of all time and space and the way in which we are all affected by forces beyond our control and understanding. It is the rare film whose flaws only make it more intriguing, since life itself is flawed and disconnected in much the same way. Above all, while comparisons can be made to other masterpieces in Malick’s own career as well as those mentioned above, this is a wonderfully unique and original film, with a style and voice unlike any I can recall. Read More