Lisa - an absolute pleasure to meet you. Nice people who are easy to talk to are the best! You're real cool. Don't let any film talk make you feel inferior. Ever.
John and Brandon- a pleasure as always. I had such a great time nerding out.
Ben and Jason- We missed you both!
More film club gatherings are in order.
As to The Tree of Life...
I'll do a longer write up once I've done a better job of processing the damn thing. For now, here are some cursory thoughts. John, thanks for breaking the ice.
In terms of purely aesthetic beauty, probably too majestic for words. It's one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen, and probably the most beautifully photographed film I've ever seen. Many times films can just win me over with cinematography alone. I think that even if you aren't invested in the story or are confused as hell as to what's going on, you'd still have to admit that this film is a visual feast unlike any other. But, I don't think a lot of people are prepared for something like that. Most people aren't expecting to go to a movie and watch visual poetry for 2 and 1/2 hours. You've got to really either love Malick unconditionally, love film in general, or failing both, have just an astounding amount of patience for beauty to unfold slowly to really dig this movie.
Luckily I've got all three, so I loved the film. But it's damn challenging. I wouldn't recommend it lightly. It's overwhelming, at times incredibly slow and repetitive, and just about as esoteric as epic films get. John's absolutely correct–this is the most important film of the year. It's probably one of the boldest and most ambitious films of the last forty years. You really have to take it back to guys like Bresson, Tarkovsky, Kubrick, and Bergman to get this level of ambitious filmmaking. It's just that singularly artistic and unabashedly personal.
John, you're right. Brandon and I probably brought more emotional punch to the film then it supplies you with. It really either hits home as something from your life or leaves you feeling empty. Kubrick references are pretty appropriate here. While TTOL is certainly not a cold film by any means, its transience (in terms of shot and scene length) and odd detachment make it hard to get emotionally involved much like a Kubrick film. But the way Kubrick tells a story and films it is so unique and advanced that it seems as if the film itself is operating on a different level than you're used to. I would say the same about this film. It definitely asks you to watch or think about film in a different way, and for that I'd say it is an unbelievable achievement in this day and age.
I loved it. I can't wait to watch it 30 more times. It's confounding and beautiful beyond words.
We can debate it more soon, especially all the little stuff that happens that makes you go, "what the fuck?" like a chair just moving from a table on its own with zero context or explanation given. Totally awesome and bewildering and worth discussing.
A caveat though: be careful who you take to see this film or tell to see it. Let them know what they are getting into. Maybe the best preparation for this film is to show someone The New World and then tell them it will be 100 times more abstract and meandering. Then have them watch 2001 (maybe a double feature with Stalker or Solaris to really test their patience). Then maybe watch a few hours of Planet Earth with the sound off and a Brahms record playing.