February 13, 2013

Emil A. Malick, RIP

From the Tulsa World:
Emil A Malick 
Emil A. Malick, age 96, resident of Bartlesville, died on February 9, 2013 at Jane Phillips Hospital. A Requiem Mass will be said at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on Saturday, February 16, at 2 PM. The family has requested no flowers. Survivors include his son Terrence and wife Alexandra of Austin, Texas, and his daughter-in-law Ann and grandsons David and Michael of Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Due to traffic, I missed the first 15 minutes or so of his son Terrence Malick's 2011 film The Tree of Life, by which point everybody in the audience who had arrived on time was getting pretty sick of the movie. So, I came in, fortunately, just as the film was finally focusing in from the Big Bang to growing up in the Oil Patch in an Eden-like 1950s small town as the son of a petroleum industry inventor, with Jessica Chastain ethereally beautiful as your mother and Brad Pitt giving the greatest performance of his career as your father. I wrote:
If you like this style (and I do, very much), The Tree of Life might call to mind other works about growing up, such as Wordsworth’s The Prelude, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, or Nabokov’s Speak, Memory. Parts of it are that good.

Someday, if we're very lucky we may see a 90-minute Editor's Cut of The Tree of Life minus all of Malick's trademark distractions, leaving us with its magnificent understated core: the Book of Genesis onscreen, the Book of Job looming offscreen.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

i like that "editors cut". sorry don't happen. no film editor could have the guts to do that to a Malick film.

Steve Sailer said...

Same thing with Peter Jackson movies.

Anonymous said...

I saw the whole thing and it was great. If Malick isn't your thing, ok, but don't slag on it. Best line, the father, without explanation- "I never had a chance to tell him how sorry I was."

(I'm not actually anonymous, but Blogger comments suck so incredibly bad I can't post a comment otherwise.)

Anonymous said...

its magnificent understated core: the Book of Genesis onscreen, the Book of Job looming offscreen.

Can you explain this? What do you mean by "Book of Job looming offscreen"?

Anonymous said...

If you came in toward the end of the Big Bang part then you were like 40 minutes late, but I guess that makes the anecdote strain credibility.

Steve Sailer said...

It doesn't strain credibility that I might have managed to show up somewhere 40 minutes late.

Anonymous said...

You mean 'shortened'.

TOL was over-edited.

Anonymous said...

Tree of Life was absolutely brilliant, with only a relative smattering of Malick's usual self-indulgence. Your formulation of it as Book of Genesis onscreen and Book of Job menacing offscreen is just right. Many directors have attempted to create a monument to youth and creation, paying homage to their roots with reverence and sadness (Fellini comes to mind), but none have succeeded so well. I think the unforgiveable crime for most critics was that Malick made the 50's seem like a terrific place to live. Don't you know the 50's were EEVIL!! Brad Pitt's Father was excellent as well: archetypal post-war middle brow upwardly striving white guy, looking like one of those guys at NASA. Half tyrant and half poet, he could lose himself in the subtle beauty of Bach, and the next second beat his son for looking at him disrespectfully. Emil was my kind of American of the old school.

Thursday said...

Let's name some films that could have been great with a good editor. I'll nominate Malick's Thin Red Line and Martin Scorsese's Last Temptation of Christ. The latter has lots of gorgeous religious iconography, but also a lot of "method actors lost in the desert." Trim the talk and it could be amazing.

Anonymous said...

"If you came in toward the end of the Big Bang part then you were like 40 minutes late..."

I'm a notorious latecomer to movies. It wasn't until I saw 'The Descendants' on calbe that I realized that I didn't come in five minutes into the movie when I saw it at the theater, as I thought, but more like twenty minutes. Didn't merely miss the Prologue and Introduction, as it were, but more like Prologue, Introduction and Chapter 1.

Anonymous said...

Another admirable thing about Tree of Life was that it is premised on the grief of a Father and a Mother, and a Brother over a dead boy. The sense of loss is overpowering, but no hint is given of the age or circumstances of the boy's death; it is treated as an irrelevant detail. Malick strips the death of incidentals and sensationalism, and focuses on the essential. That allows the sadness to infuse the whole film, even those IMAX dinosaur parts. Great stuff. I didn't like Thin Red Line, but now I have to go see his other films.

Steve Sailer said...

Peter Jackson's King Kong is at least an hour too long.

David Lynch's "Inland Empire" is completely incoherent, but I suspect that a good editor could come up with a 75 minute movie out of its bulk that would be pretty interesting.

Anonymous said...

Lynch shot his wad with that Mulholland Drive thing. Talk about a one-trick pony. He's worse than Beckett.

Anonymous said...

I'm a notorious latecomer to movies.

Why? The previews are the best part. The whole point of watching a movie in the theaters is to watch the previews. Otherwise, why bother?

Anonymous said...

http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/02/13/why-tolkien-nixed-a-beatles-lord-of-the-rings/

Anonymous said...

I confess I haven't seen Tree of Life yet. So far my favorite Malick film is Days of Heaven. I've probably seen it at leasst ten and probably more times. It only works in a movie theater and with a fairly large but not overwhelming screen. I saw it once on tv and stopped watching after a while. It's just not the same experience. Malick manages to create a mythic tragedy out of simple elements and the cinematography is lush and overwhelming. The voice over narration is a brilliant solution to the problem of continuity and adds a whole other artistic dimension. IMHO, Malick never created another film as great as this (Tree of LIfe, perhaps excepted).

Anonymous said...

"Lynch shot his wad with that Mulholland Drive thing."

ERASERHEAD is the greater work.

Anonymous said...

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/olympics--ioc-s-poor-decision-to-add-golf-costs-wrestling-its-spot-in-olympics-201325406.html

Golf? Sailor a member of IOC?

vandelay said...

You know, that might be the most conventional film review of Steve's I've read, which is saying something.

Anonymous said...

Same thing with Peter Jackson movies.

IMO, the Lord of the Rings trilogy would benefit from being edited down to a single movie about the length of Lawrence of Arabia.

Cennbeorc

Steve Sailer said...

"You know, that might be the most conventional film review of Steve's I've read, which is saying something."

Well, the good parts are so good that it's worth applying a conventional high culture approach to reviewing it. In contrast, when reviewing "Django Unchained" or "Idiocracy," it's a better use of the reader's time for me to explore what the movies' and their reception say about our society. (With Django, I did come back and write a tribute to the cinematography of Tarantino's movies, but that's pretty secondary compared to what I devoted my review to pointing out.)

vandelay said...

I very much appreciate your reviewing style. I'm not sure any prominent critics (think Rotten Tomatoes "top critics") consistently take that approach, and when they try, they don't manage to say much that's interesting.
I thought the conventional features of that review were saying something not about your style, but about the quality of the film. It's not every movie that makes Steve Sailer rave about the "indelible beauty" of a shot.

Anonymous said...

"Well, the good parts are so good that it's worth applying a conventional high culture approach to reviewing it."

Good parts? Where?

Anonymous said...

The whole point of watching a movie in the theaters is to watch the previews. Otherwise, why bother?

To watch the film in a communal setting on a big screen? In a theater setting with a big container of popcorn on your lap? I still like the moviegoing experience.

As for previews, I used to enjoy them. But now most are obnoxious, laughable and cliched. They're mostly for rock'em sock'em action movies featuring lots of explosions which I don't want to subject myself to even a few seconds of. Or smarmy comedies or earnest dramas set in exotic locales. It's very rare that I see a preview and say, "Hey, that looks interesting".

That said, I really do prefer getting to movies on time. Being late is simply a vice of mine.

BigStraightPhil said...

Quite by chance I read this quote yesterday, apparently from the Torah--

"The Torah is a tree of life to those who hold it fast"

I wish I'd known this when I saw the film.

Captain Tripps said...

Well, I’ll have to see “Tree of Life” now, since you speak so highly of it. The only Malick film I’ve seen is “Thin Red Line”. I wasn’t that impressed with it. Likely because of all the artistic distractions you note that Malick is known for. I think “Thin Red Line” is not as well appreciated because it was released 6 months after “Saving Private Ryan”, which really changed the way Americans viewed combat movies. I also think WWII combat movies oriented on ground combat in the Pacific theater are generally less viewed/appreciated than those centered on ground combat in the European theater. I think the public views the war against Nazi Germany as a more “noble” effort compared to the war against Imperial Japan (saving the world from those evil racist Nazis vs. a truly awful, brutal war with the Japanese which had a hint of anti-Asian racism).

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy reviews of books, movies, and almost anything else, so I read a ton of them. Steve is among the best reviewers, and I don't think it's just because he explores taboo subjects. (That is an advantage because many of the most interesting non-taboo themes in any given topic have been rehashed in one form or another a few times. But it's a shame I have to consume his stuff in the shadows ... literally: when I am in a public place and I open this blog, I make sure my back is to a wall. I had a nightmare a few nights ago that I commented on this blog and my comment was linked to my google account. Keep up the good work, Steve.

FredR said...

The good parts of Tree of Life are better than anything in Days of Heaven, but as a whole, Days of Heaven fits together a little better. It is a shame how much better some of our auteurs would be with a litte more discipline, but I suppose that's always been an issue with art.

FredR said...

Malick is a like Shyamalan (on a higher level though): he could be so great if he found a good collaborator to help him write his movies and deliver effective dramatic structures.

Anonymous said...

Films that could have been better with editing. I'll leave greatness out of it.
Godfather III, One from the Heart, Heavens Gate