Thursday, August 04, 2011

If You Watch Both

The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick, and Dogtooth by Giorgos Lanthimos, in the same week, you will cover the entire gamut of family life, from the way of grace, the way of nature, and the way of the psychopath.

It is a strange juxtaposition.

Malick's fifth film in 38 years has already generated a great deal of press and opinions about what it is, what it means, and whether it is even worth seeing. Comparisons to Kubrick's 2001 have been made. Some theaters post notices that anyone leaving the cinema will not receive refunds. I suspect that many years from now a more definitive examination in retrospect will seal this film as either the work of a genius or an overreaching flop. The path to release has been long, and the film was supposed to have been released two years ago. Rumors of much footage cut have circulated. What is left is almost pure cinema, very little dialog, emotional images with whispering narrators who do not so much preach as opine. The beginnings of the universe, a family growing up in Texas, the death of a brother. A more serious A Serious Man? Perhaps.

It has already won the Palme d'Or at Cannes.

I can't wait to see it agin.

Dogtooth was nominated for best foreign language film and is a much more straightforward examination of the extremes of family life with a patriach who lives in a gated estate. His three children are never allowed to leave the house and have grown up only under the twisted guidance of their parents who assert that they are protecting them from the outside world. Their world, a microcosm of the outside, has been altered in order to prevent outside influences from creeping in, but of course, creep in they must, to both horrific, comic, and liberating effect.

It is a fascinating look at family life at the extremes, but I do not think I shall see it again.

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