In honor of the release of Mama, Spencer and Greg discuss Jessica Chastain.
I love the Oscar race! Just looking at the potential films and seeing which will become major contenders sends excitement coursing through me, especially for Best Picture. I try to figure out the films that the Academy will love and, more importantly, which films will I love as well. I always hope that I will agree with the Academy, because despite what my feelings might be about the Academy, them giving a movie Best Picture helps a movie become more well known and helps people embrace it. So, when they give it to something less than deserving (or worse), it is like they are hurting film. This is an intense love/hate relationship for me, but I keep coming back and right now we have reached the end of summer and are entering the fall. This is usually the starting point for the Oscar season.
What a strange, odd, haunting, beautiful, and fascinating film Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011) is. As I sat there, in that dark theater, I watched with curiosity the story that was unfolding before me. Even now, thinking about it long after I saw it, I still find myself perplexed with what I experienced. This may be a fault of the film, but a part of me feels as though I was ill-prepared for it. Malick has been one of the most philosophical and mysterious filmmakers of the last few decades, making films that deal less with an actual narrative and more with the ideas of human nature, the purpose of existence, and the beauty of the world. With this movie, he has made his most grand, ambitious epic to date. Yet at the same time, it is also perhaps his most impenetrable.
There is a kind of mood in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven (1978) that draws us in without ever explicitly revealing itself. A kind of feeling, or a certain kind of tone, pervades every moment of the film; we can sense it without really specifying what it is. Could it be the result of the great cinematography by Nestor Almendros and Haskell Wexler? Or is it the haunting score by Ennio Morricone? Perhaps it is the philosophical approach Malick takes toward this material, regarding man’s relationship with man, or man’s spiritual relationship with nature? Maybe it is a combination of all these factors, but what makes this film brilliant is how, while having the ability to draw us in, it still keeps us at arm’s length. We watch the story unfold at a distance, like a silent voyeur. And in this way, Malick crafted a film resembling that of a loving memory; like a time and place that has long passed that we wish to somehow return to.