• As Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life," which opened in major cities at the end of last month, is getting ready for its nationwide rollout, a how-to featurette has been released by distributor Fox Searchlight Pictures in the hopes that it will help shepherd the meditative film across the dusty trails that await. Because in order for a movie to make money, as Mike Fleming of Deadline New York reports, it needs to connect with a young audience and as anyone who's seen "The Tree of Life" knows, this might be a head-scratching challenge for the distributor.

  • If Terrence Malick is a saint of cinema, then this is his holy lesson. Over a four-decade career, the mercurial American visionary has mastered absence and flowered a daunting mystery. After making one of the most impressive debuts in American film history, 1973’s "Badlands," he quit talking to the press. After the dreamy masterpiece "Days of Heaven" five years later, the perfectionist dipped a toe back in and quickly removed it. He then famously disappeared for twenty years.

    Swathed in stunning cinematography, pieced together by mood and memory (rather than linear story), "The Tree of Life" is a radical contemplation of mystery. These mysteries take forms from childhood curiosities to cosmic riddles, stretching from the Big Bang to a fifties Texas family and on to the end of time.

    Michael Phillips, the Chicago Tribune critic, calls The Tree of Life “an infinitely more forgiving 2001: A Space Odyssey.” Critics and viewers will find a natural similarity with "Tree"’s centerpiece, an already famous twenty minute pre-historic spectacular, sketching the origins of the universe and the planet Earth. Stars, cells, seas, volcanoes, trees, sharks, jellyfish and, yes, dinosaurs. This section, though, seems to be a critique of "2001" rather than agreement. If Kubrick were still with us, he might feel the need to reply.

  • For the last twelve months the film world rallied behind […]

  • The 8:30am screening at the Cannes Festival is the most important one of the day, for a number of reasons. It's held in the Lumière Theatre, which sits over 2,200, it's early, and is bound to be attended by serious cinephiles and journalists (parties-bound festival-goers can't be expected to roll out of bed until about 11am and will try and catch Competition films later on in the day, if they make it). Finally, and because of the previously cited reasons, that screening is also a good yardstick for a movie's success for the remainder of the festival, and, often, beyond. In this case, Terrence Malick's "Tree of life," which was expected last year but not delivered (at Grand Hotel press conference, the single question raised by a fearless journalist was, "why is Terry Malick's Tree of Life not included in the selection?"), and which was shown on Monday, was the film-event of the still-ongoing Cannes Festival (and no, these sorts of events don't happen at every Cannes Festival) and a divisive one at that. Are all film-events divisive ones? No. When E.T. was shown, Steven Spielberg got a standing ovation that lasted nearly eight minutes. "Tree of life," with its overwrought message about the meaning of life and eminently-good Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, got boos, hisses, and plenty of applause. How that reaction will reverberate over the life of the movie is anyone's guess.