Rating: The Good – 89.8 Genre: Crime Drama Duration: 94 mins Director: Terrence Malick Stars: Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek, Warren Oates
A blinding debut from recluse Terrence Malick. Badlands follows the kill-spree of two young free spirits in a thoughtful exploration of young adults playing by their own rules while trying to make their mark on the world. Martin Sheen gives the performance of his career as the James Dean wannabe with homicidal tendancies. Sissy Spacek is a revelation as the confused young girl who is just as culpable as her boyfriend yet just as innocent. This is a powerhouse of a film that will leave you with many unanswered questions and a great sense of unease but with Malick’s prodigious sense for visuals and sound as well as the acting of the leading pair, it’s worth the watch and then some.
Genre: Adventure, Drama Duration: 135 mins Director: Terrence Malick Stars: Colin Farrell, Q’orianka Kilcher, Christian Bale
Terrence Malick can be an acquired taste but if you accept what you are about to see is not a “film” in the conventional sense, the images, sound, and emotions he so skilfully weaves together on screen can be some of the most rewarding movie experiences. The New World tells the familiar story of the native American girl Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher) and 17th century explorer John Smith (Colin Farrell) who form an unlikely relationship in the early days of European colonisation. This is no Disney version however, as the film offers a harsh look at the barbarity of the times. In many ways, The New World mirrors Malick’s earlier The Thin Red Line which also dealt with one man’s admiration of nature and the simpler life that comes from being close to it. As you would expect from a Malick film, Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematograpahy is out of this world and together with Malick’s sense of timing the film becomes an enchanting, melancholic trip into a long-since vanished world. Despite all that, one really must be in the right mood to watch The New World. As with all Malick films, narrative takes a passenger seat to the the experiential context as the director’s desire to stretch out that context and invert the components of the story is given free reign. There’s a story told here all right, and the actors and characters are invested in it. But there’s also a grander focus that sometimes feels too big for those more traditional primary movie components.
Rating: The Good – 76.5 Genre: War Duration: 170 mins Director: Terrence Malick Screenplay: Terrence Malick Stars: Jim Caviezel, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, George Clooney
Fascinating introspection at the mental landscape of war and man’s natural or unnatural relationship to it. The Thin Red Line is very much an ensemble piece with an array of Hollywood A-listers all lining up to participate in Malick’s take on the WWII pacific theatre. There are many standout performances but Jim Caviezel’s overshadows all of them. There’s an untidy serenity to it which, though sounding like and oxymoron, is exactly the type of enigmatic quality the film needed at its centre. Malick chose well.
John Toll’s cinematography is intuitively informed by Malick’s perspective but while the visuals are in general deeply arresting, they are no more so than the use of sound in this film. The sounds of nature, man, woman, and child which Malick has always seemed attuned to like nobody else, gently come to the fore here to contextualise the narrative in their own way. Hans Zimmer provides a perfect score (perhaps his best) which lifts the film at crucial junctures and it is intricately involved in the movie’s crowning moment (in fact this score now counts as one of the many wonderful pieces of music which Zack Snyder has “borrowed” to give his trailers at least an overt sense of depth).
The decision to shoot the movie from the individual’s perspective was a brave one because it diverges from the traditional film-making template significantly. However, not only does it provide a platform for a more honest account of what soldiers go through, it also elevates the action to a level of reality beyond that of a typical war movie. The Thin Red Line came out in the same year as Spielberg’s WWII feature Saving Private Ryan, and while the latter received much praise for its realistic opening sequence, it really doesn’t touch the former in honesty or perceptiveness. The Thin Red Line is a triumph in that regard and while that may displease more mainstream movie fans who have set expectations from a war film, it will should excite those who want to see the envelope pushed further back.