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Battylands


To The Wonder The only thing left for me to ponder in Terence Malick’s latest meditation on preponderance, To The Wonder (a contemporary love story of an Okie and a Eurotrashy ditz with happy feet from Paris), is where exactly in France is that fairytale castle surrounded by mushy sandy waters? And why the fuck would they settle down in the badlands of Oklahoma instead?

To The Wonder

Well, turns out that castle is Mont Saint-Michel, in the lower region of Normandy that dates back to the 10th century. But as far as to why they (or anyone for that matter) would want to live in a newly built two story house in Oklahoma without a fucking washer and dryer? Golly, I still couldn’t tell you. And that’s probably the most enduring mystery of the film. If I had to guess, it had something to do with Ben Affleck’s job there – walking around with a picnic cooler surveying the land for god knows what when he’s not busy chasing his wife (Olga Kurylenko) through wheat fields and smelling buffalo chips. Which is probably why everyone is so loopy and dizzy and suffers from lymes disease. That being said – as if we didn’t already know Olga is not the greatest actress, we now know she sure shit can’t fucking dance either. And while Ben may not be the greatest dancer he sure shit can’t fucking act without his beard – besides the scene where he wears a lampshade on his head.  To be fair, Malick finds more poetry in the visual silence of sheer curtains blowing in the wind and adults jumping up and down on beds then good old fashion dialogue.

To The Wonder

After watching those boring ass lovebirds, Rachel McAdams is definitely a breath of fresh air as she radiates like she were in a Carhartt/Sundance catalogue, unconvincingly playing a ranch handler with not a speck of dirt or grime on her. Still, not a bad rebound for Ben.

To The Wonder

As for priest Javier Bardem – he is either mumbling to himself or to Jesus. I’m not really sure. But the scene when Olga goes to him for confession is truly a revelation, in that it’s so private that there’s no way I could tell you what was revealed and neither could Malick. You just have to go see the movie yourself to come up with your own conclusions but I’m telling y’all right now your time will be better spent at the local laundromat instead of watching them do theirs.

To The Wonder

Considering Roger Ebert gave this a thumbs up you have to wonder if he knew this was likely his last review and therefore took comfort in the Javier’s sermon of “God to the left, God to the right…” – whereas I’d have to give it a thumbs down because all I see are clowns to the left of me and jokers to the right and here I am stuck in the middle. But till then Roger, please save me an aisle seat…

To The Wonder

To The Wonder

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Hymn Haw

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation…while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” 

– The Book of Job 38:4,7

Jesus Malick! And where the fuck have you been since Days of Heaven? You should have quit while you were ahead instead of ruining your legacy with three mediocre movies. Hey Terry, I have two words for you; Harper Lee.

From the get go The Tree of Life has confluence of Darwinian and overtly preachy bible mumbo jumbo ethos that permeate the movie and beckon audiences to question the meaning of life and death. One wonders if Malick’s foundation rooted in Waco, Texas made him another byproduct spawning the likes of David Koresh to Jessica Simpson who are also fellow honorary God loving citizens. Thank whoever – Willie Nelson was spared. Either way, I was more interested in the special effects and consultant Douglas Trumball. Especially that dino scene!

But of the many haunting and fleeting images, the one that reoccurs like chapter bookends is of a glowing orb like flame that flickers in Deep Space Nine or used here instead as a standard representation of the so-called Creator of the Universe. I prefer a Black Monolith myself or Roman Castevet. Anyway, while Malick’s need for a narration and Alexandre Desplat soundtrack are overdone, Pitt and Chastain’s performance and beauty require little dialogue as Emmanuel Lubezki stunning camera work keeps us interested enough. But Sean Penn is no Benjamin Button. He meanders on a beach, disheveled and  “soul searching” with a face not even a mother can love, when in reality the true mystery is how he bagged Scarlett Johansson!

(After her Jimmy Fallon appearance it’s no wonder she has no dialogue.)

The old adage of less is more can not hold truer than in the case of Badlands and Days of Heaven, both clocking in at 94 minutes, whereas these last three are just as long as the entire James Bond series. So after surviving the Big Bang and Harold Camping’s May 21 rapture the one question I left with is why the film closes on a shot of the Verazzano Bridge over to Staten Island? Now that truly is The Land of the Lost, just ask George Harrison.

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