The Tree of Life

TOL posterFox Searchlight (2011) 139 min. PG-13

Director: Terrence Malick

Screenplay: Terrence Malick

Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki

Editing: Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber & Mark Yoshikawa

Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Jeanette Scott

Costumes: Jacqueline West

Score: Alexandre Desplat

Stars: Brad Pitt (Mr. O’Brien), Sean Penn (Jack), Jessica Chastain (Mrs. O’Brien), Hunter McCracken (Young Jack), Laramie Eppler (R.L.), Tye Sheridan (Steve), Fiona Shaw (Grandmother)

“Think of a tree, how it grows ‘round its roots. The branch breaks off, it don’t stop, but keeps reaching toward the light.” – The New World

Terrence Malick has always been an acquired taste. His movies are mood pieces paced to the cadence of internal monologues whispered rhetorically by his characters in hushed, reverential tones onscreen. Striving for more than the movie medium can encompass, he’s a visionary seeking to push past its restricting barriers to self-expression. When the man stays focused there’s no director better at vividly evoking the sentient, existential sensations of simple human perception. His movies pulsate with the vibrancy of life as we experience it at almost a subliminal level. They heighten our awareness in a way that makes us feel as if we were experiencing a movie fully awake and responsive for the first time.

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The Adventures of the Wilderness Family

Pacific International Enterprises (1975) 100 min. G

Director: Stewart Raffill

Screenplay: Stewart Raffill; Story: Arthur R. Dubs

Cinematography: Gerard Alcan; Editing: R. Hansel Brown

Production Design: Ronald Kent Foreman

Costumes: Beau Barthel

Score: Gene Kauer and Douglas Lackey

Stars: Robert Logan (Skip Robinson), Susan Damante Shaw (Pat), Hollye Holmes (Jenny), Ham Larsen (Toby), George ‘Buck’ Flower (Boomer)

When I first caught up with it on pay cable as a kid in the 80’s, I was wild about The Adventures of the Wilderness Family and its sequels. I’d been hunting down a DVD in recent years but hadn’t managed to come across one (a special edition has been released but it’s not offered through Netflix yet). Yesterday, by pure chance, I came across an old discarded VHS copy at a rummage sale and as I quickly snatched up and pocketed my find, mused over the priceless treasures some people choose to toss out. At least until I got it home and popped it in an old VCR I keep oiled just for such an emergency. Continue reading