Reviews written by registered user
|4 reviews in total|
I'm so glad The Tree of Life has both thrilled and annoyed audiences because it's a film that reaches for a very high branch on the cinematic tree. Every filmmaker wants to make good movies--me included--but we create within the confines of our times. Malick seems to have ignored what most of his fellow established filmmakers have been producing, and chosen a course that is both intimate and grand, bordering on grandiose, and outside of what an average audience expects on a Saturday night. He's not being pretentious, because that would suggest an ego in service only to itself; he's being ambitious. It's as if he wants to wrap his arms around the profound questions of creation, both the universal, and the small steps of a baby growing into a man, and share his feelings, visions and memories of it. The movie is like our own memories--sad, sweet, half-remembered,--and told with more originality-per-minute than a stack of blockbusters out this summer. I understand if not everyone can connect to Malick's ambitious film about life and what it feels like for a young family in Texas, but I do hope that critics of it will appreciate the honest heart that made it, and demand more from movies, and movie makers, than just distracting entertainment.
The personal documentary is a well worn, some say "tired," format for young filmmakers just starting out. But in Cynthia Wade's funny and touching portrait of her divorced parents and how their lives shaped her own, the personal film has found an elegant practitioner. Bravely, Cynthia Wade not only exposes her parents' failed marriage, but the lonely life she leads too as she wonders if she'll ever meet a man she can love and marry. The film-making is subtle and painfully funny and uses wonderful Super 8 footage that her father shot in the 1960s and 70s to connect us to the past. This is a film for anyone with "parental issues" (pretty much all humankind) and for those doubting souls who wonder if happiness will always be a harvest reaped by somebody else.
"Shelter Dogs" forces viewers to confront a very real moral dilemma--how we treat "man's best friend." It's a tough film with some very emotionally wrenching scenes, but it's also a tender film, filled with compassionate people who do their best to patch up the problems that society ignores. Told in the best tradition of social-issue documentaries, the film spends a year in the lives of animal shelter workers as they make life and death decisions about the pets that other people discard. But unlike many so- called "hard-edged films," this one runs the gamut of emotions-- from poignant to funny--, with lots of room for reflection. I liked it a lot, even if the subject matter disturbed me. To me a great film is one that takes me someplace I've never been, entertains and touches me along the way, before depositing me back home a little wiser for the journey. Shelter Dogs does that. It reveals people and pets at their most vulnerable and, like "Hoop Dreams," surprises us by the outcome. I highly recommend it for anyone who owns a pet, or ever held a puppy and delighted in its affection.
Short films are tough to pull off, but this little gem makes you laugh and cringe. Cringe only because of the plight of the main character, a struggling actor with an unfortunate role in an episode of an America's Most Wanted-type show, who falls afoul of a vigilant citizen who mistakes him as a real criminal and proceeds to kidnap him--and worse. It's easy to compare the film and the filmmaker with more established names--the Coen brothers come to mind,--but this little morality play stands on its own and will hopefully serve as a warning to star-struck wannabees who step off the bus at Hollywood.