Cannes Film Festival: Terrence Malick and Brad Pitt's 'Tree of Life' draws boos, but also counter-applause

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It’s daunting to describe Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, but scattered audience members at its first screening in Cannes needed only one syllable: boo. Read the full post.

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  • jstoldr

    If someone like Paul “Resident Evil” Anderson made this movie or The New World, I’m willing to bet have of these people who are on Malick bandwagon would have a negative take on them. It’s brilliant because Malick made it….not because of what’s up on the screen.

  • JM

    Terrence Malick is a director that relies heavily on subtext. The true substance of his films is usually in the simple unsophisticated moments that convey mountains of information about human beings and our place in this world. I’m not surprised that not all people love his movies because they are not for everyone. I would have to say that he is definitely one of the last intellectual filmmakers of our time. Love him or hate him, the guy is brilliant.

  • The Gooch

    I suspect the complaints that Malick’s films are long and slow result from the lack of strong narrative. But I think that criticism kind of misses the point.

    His films are lyric as opposed to narrative. It’s like complaining that Shakespeare’s sonnets don’t have the great stories that his plays have. That’s because they’re not supposed to. They’re more meditations on a feeling, explorations of the internal monolgue that threads through our lives. They are not necessarily about a sequence of events leading to a climax and resolution.

    I think Malick’s films succeed on their own terms. Of course, no one’s required to like them. And if you believe the only purpose of movies is to tell stories, you’re likely to be frustrated.

  • Dave M

    Here’s my review of the movie I have not seen yet:
    Wind bloing through trees…water flowing over rocks…ZZZZZZ!

    Now watch all the “smart people” call me an idiot.

    • me

      hahahaha…best comment of the day

    • Rashy

      I like those quiet distilled moments, I could watch water flowing over rocks all day,lol.

    • pie thrower

      G-d bless you Dave M. I’d rather be an idiot with you than false and pretentious admirer of Terrance Malick’s films.

  • tammy

    There is such a wide variety of movies churned out daily that we are just plain SPOILED!! All movies are a form of ENTERTAINMENT. There is nothing deep or sudo-intellectual about enjoying one over the other. Am I stupid for loving the Hangover and not seeing the Oscar worthy “Black Swan” or thinking the acting in “Buried” was more riveting than the Oscar worthy “127 Hours”? There are so many arm chair critics because anybody with a computer cans BLOG about anything whether they know anything or not. Why do put so much weight on the opinion of a critic who may not share my taste on what I may actually enjoy??

  • Mark

    I like the concept, but I can’t stand Mallick. His bizarre obsession with nature is annoying and pretentious. His movies are what I like to call Picasso movies — Okay, it may be artistic, but is it any good? Everyone has their own interpretation of what art is. To some, it’s something to be enjoyed. To others, it’s something to touch their soul. Others want some deep cerebral and metaphorical meaning to everything or they consider it stupid. His fans tend to fall in the latter category: too obsessed with pretension that they can’t be bothered to think that maybe, just maybe, the only reason they think they see “deeper meaning” in his movies is because they want to see deeper meaning.

  • Leif Turner

    When has Brad Pitt made a good movie in the last 5 years.

    • disappointing

      TBH I can’t name one good movie of Brad’s where he’s the lead.

    • Woot

      2006- Babel (nominated for Best Picture)
      2008- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (nominated Best actor)
      2009- Inglorious Basterds (nominated for Best Picture)

    • Rashy

      aahhhhh, hello, The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford was brilliant!

    • Jaime

      Leif. You shouldn’t be allowed to comment. Have you seen AOJJ? He was hilarious and stole the show in Burn After Reading. Reviews out of Cannes are saying that he gives one of his finest performances in Tree of Life.

  • Absalon

    Malick’s a masterpiecemaker DOT

  • Conor

    I actually have a ticket to the red carpet in about an hour and a half. I really hope it’s a let down as I was anticipating seeing it at last year’s festival. But when everything’s said and done, critics at Cannes can be very harsh at times so there’s really no reason to view this as a sign that it’s not a good film.

    • Dave M

      I think the Cannes crew came into this movie leery. Everyone has been kissing Malick’s ass for 30 years based on the strength of his first two films and the legend of him disappearing. But a 3rd consecutive pretentious, boring movie that sacrifices a narrative for “lyrical imagery” is just too much. The emperor has no clothes.

    • Conor

      Just saw it. It’s certainly going to be a film that’s going to polarize audiences. Personally, I enjoyed it though some elements were quite tedious.

  • Absalon

    And Dave M you’re an idiot.
    Signed by one obviously member of the smart people.

  • nanook

    If a film is that polarizing, it’s a good enough reason for me to want to see it. However, I have seen every of Malick’s films and will continue to do so, but so far I have found them interminably boring, yet so beautiful, poetic and melancholy that they are a rewarding experience on a visual and emotional level. It never ceases to amaze me how a negative reaction to his films brings out all those with a super-inflated sense of superiority and immediately label everyone a moron who does not share the same lofty opinion. Oh and some of you so called film elitists, it helps to check your spelling & grammar when you are trying to impress us inferior movie goers with your superior taste in films.

  • DiMi

    At least Malick is treating film as ART rather than as a 2 hour product-placement commercial. Even if he failed – which I doubt – at least he made the effort to make a film with substance and meaning rather than just sex and violence. Bravo to him!

    Perhaps the audience of Brad Pitt fans went in expecting to see Troy or Kalifornia and ended up seeing a thoughtful artistic allegory. I blame Pitt a little bit for this.

    • @DiMi

      What ? … Why blame Brad Pitt ? That makes no sense.

    • Sierra

      Very true @Dimi… Dimi’s comment makes no sense…The idea that somehow Brad is to blame is just dumb.

      • DiMi

        Really, Sierra? You think my whole comment makes no sense, just because I think Brad Pitt is a bad actor? You are the one who is dumb.

    • DiMi

      I meant that audience members went thinking that they were going to see a Brad Pitt film, meaning an entertaining but artistically insignificant film. The audience’s expectations were in conflict with what they witnessed. Casting Pitt in a film is a cue that the film is not likely to be artistically meaningful. Malick took an unnecessary risk in casting Pitt because Pitt is very marketable and attracts a lot of PR, but he is simply not a very good actor.

    • DiMi

      I meant that the audience was probably packed with people who weren’t interested in seeing an art film; they were there to see Brad Pitt be good looking. Audiences members went thinking that they were going to see a Brad Pitt film, meaning an entertaining but artistically insignificant film. The audience’s expectations were in conflict with what they witnessed. Casting Pitt in a film is a cue that the film is not likely to be artistically meaningful. Malick took an unnecessary risk in casting Pitt because Pitt is very marketable and attracts a lot of PR, but he is simply not a very good actor, especially for a subtle film.

  • DFSF

    That’s pretty bad if you’re even able to bore the French with a moody, image-driven thinkpiece.

  • rishi

    What is the definition of overrated?
    How do you define pretentious?
    I think the Lost World was pretentious but most do not.

    Why can’t we live with our personal opinions? This is the magic of cinema- It appeals to everyone, someway or the other.

    Unfortunately, today cinema is not about the art anymore. It is business and ONLY business. Trailer hits, tweeter feeds and fast cuts define a film’s status. In such an abysmal scenario Mr Malick, like Andrei Tarkovsky before him, reign supreme.

    Now call me pretentious.

  • Jem

    Yeah and the Cannes audience also booed Pulp Fiction and Taxi Driver. My point being, see the film first before you give your final judgment based on those snooty, fickle Cannes audience members.

    • Nick

      Pulp Fiction received a standing ovation at Cannes.

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