Monday, September 19, 2011

Monkeying Around in the Tree of Life

I was going to play Lord of the Rings over lunch today but looks like that isn't happening as I left the god damn quest deck at home. No matter my second core set is coming in this week and I will want to rebuild my decks anyway to fully take advantage of it. So I guess I will be writing here ho hum :p.

As the title alludes I FINALLY got around to seeing Tree of Life. This has been on my radar for the longest bloody time and I just kept forgetting about it until recently. Then I decided I would want that to sink in a little before I did any writing about it. After awhile I came to a number of conclusions. First the long 15 minutish segment in the middle of the movie where they show all sorts of natural scenes and dinosaurs and stuff like that is very ineffective. I get it. The movie is framed with the question of nature versus grace. Nature being self serving and brutish whereas grace is living for others and being generally nice. Then there is a little bit of Sean Pen wandering around looking confuzzled then there is a bit of linear narration followed by the nature sequence.

The problems with the nature sequence is that what I estimated the time at around 15 minuts it felt closer to 30 and at more than one occation I was reaching for the fast foward button. Why though? The main problem is that for an extended periods of time I had no idea what the hell I was looking at. There were extreme close ups of things, I guess but as a result I was just sitting there in the dark looking at pretty colors on the screen with no real context of narration to help out. I was left to contemplate the validity of the nature/grace argument I guess but what the fuck I have the whole rest of my life to figure that one out and I don't need a break in the middle of the movie to watch abstract art to contemplate whatever.

The segment really ruined for me what I otherwise think is a fantastic, deeply moving, highly meditative movie. The movie has sat with me for over a week now, its themes playing around in my head as I poke around from one scene to the next. I enjoy unravling Brad Pitt's charecter which is one of the most complex, well rendered, charecters I've seen in any movie for a very long time. It is SO good. And yet there is this giant big red misstep in the middle that stands there glaring like the eye of suron.

See the movie itself has three different narratives going on at the same time. There is the family with Pitt, his children, and his absolutely gorgeous wife and this is linear. Then there is the Sean Penn non linear narrative which shows one of the children all grown up and him trying to reconcile with his past...and the big bulbous nature segment. With the exception of the large nature segment in the middle the movie seamlessly weaves all three narratives together perfectly. In fact if some of the more abstract images were removed or given some context I wouldn't mind. However, literally looking at an abstract sea of colors doesn't do it for me. I almost understand what it is trying to do too. These are all scenes involving nature, they show it at nature's most beautiful, to invoke a sense of both wonder and mystery. However, since it is so disconnected with the imagry from Penn's abstract narrative and the linear narrative it feels like it was just simply airdropped into the middle of the movie almost without rhyme of reason. I am okay with things like that but then why frame a movie with a question and then spend the rest of the movie complicating the question? Oh well.

I still loved it and I highly reccomend that everyone see it. The weird thing about Tree of Life is that it reached an audience that this sort of film normally has no hope whatsoever of reaching. More on that later though cause this is a point that derserve its own post. However, my time is up and that is that.

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