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June 30, 2011 5:03 PM   Subscribe

Reports suggest that director Terrence Malick's recent film The Tree of Life, starring popular actor Brad Pitt, is experiencing a 5-10% walkout rate. Are misconceptions about the film driving audience members out of movie theaters in anger and bafflement? (previously)
posted by Nomyte (192 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah, but what's the Walkabout rate? 5-10% Jenny Agutter is still better than no Jenny Agutter at all.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:08 PM on June 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


It's "Vanilla Sky" all over again.
posted by ColdChef at 5:09 PM on June 30, 2011


We're currently showing it at my theatre. It's an arthouse theatre; our audience seeks out non-mainstream, independent and foreign films regularly and loyally. I can confirm that we're also experiencing about a 5% walkout rate, maybe even a little more than that, which is highly unusual for us.

I don't know, I haven't seen it yet (and therefore will probably be leaving this thread now to avoid spoilers). I'm a big Terrence Malick fan, but I can imagine that if you don't have some idea of what you're getting into, you might find that his movies aren't to your liking. The New World got some seriously mixed reviews when it came out too, didn't it?
posted by penduluum at 5:10 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Typical Theater Goer,

Warning: Movie no all explosion go boom.

Zug zug,

-Terrence Malick
posted by munchingzombie at 5:12 PM on June 30, 2011 [15 favorites]


I'm glad Brad Pitt is adventurous in the roles he chooses, but this is an inevitable result of an A-list star doing challenging work. See also Brad Pitt in The Assassination of Jesse James ... (of course that movie was both challenging and bad).

I'm a big Terrence Malick fan, but I can imagine that if you don't have some idea of what you're getting into, you might find that his movies aren't to your liking. The New World got some seriously mixed reviews when it came out too, didn't it?

I haven't seen it yet, but my understanding is that the movie is beyond your standard Malick when it comes to its experimentation with structure and non-linear storytelling.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:12 PM on June 30, 2011


Tree of Life is 18 minutes shorter than Transformers 3, yet which one are people walking out of? Crazy.
posted by boubelium at 5:14 PM on June 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


Does the tree turn into a giant robot and shoot up New York? No? Well, what use is it, then?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:17 PM on June 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


Tree of Life is 18 minutes shorter than Transformers 3, yet which one are people walking out of? Crazy.

It'll make more money, be better know and be seen by more people. You know why? Because it's what more people are looking for from a movie.

Hands down, they think it's a better film and nothing you can say will change that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:18 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm one of the folks who find Malick and extremely boring director.

I found, The Thin Red Line, very predictable, boring. Yes, the scenes were shot very pretty, but the plot was annoying as hell.

I could tell from the trailer that this be a similar style movie.
posted by KaizenSoze at 5:19 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


See also Brad Pitt in The Assassination of Jesse James ... (of course that movie was both challenging and bad).

No! That movie was challenging and awesome.

I liked Tree of Life, but it can be a bit of a slog, and I can certainly understand how an unadventurous moviegoer used to linear, straightforward narratives would be baffled and turned off. It also requires patience with breathlessly "lyrical" philosophical voiceover, though it actually bothered me less here than in Malick's previous films.

I basically held my breath through all 2.5 hours of Jesse James though. It did Malick better than Malick. Gotta watch it again one of these days.
posted by eugenen at 5:19 PM on June 30, 2011 [14 favorites]


I fully plan to rent both ToL and Tran3 when they hit Redbox. And I fully agree with the "not enough guns/explosions/tits" comments about the average American movie goer floating around.
I suspect that this movie was badly positioning in the season; summer is not when you release a movie like this or say, On Golden Pond or A River Runs Through It. Summer is when you have the guns/explosions/tits.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:20 PM on June 30, 2011


I saw "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" on opening weekend. A couple of older ladies sat right behind me. During the opening segment one of them started saying "I can't stand this...I can't stand this..." and they walked out during the opening credits. They probably expected a zany and easily digestible Jim Carrey comedy. Apparently a lot of people walked out of showings of "Sunshine."
posted by thescientificmethhead at 5:21 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is unsurprising. Other Malick films are still tell stories the way most films do. This, not so much. I adored it, it was probably the most intense cinematic experience of my life, but it is very much unlike what people expect from movies. It exists about halfway between Persona and Dog Star Man. Films like this don't normally get traditional theatrical releases at all.
posted by I Foody at 5:21 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I enjoyed Malick's previous films, but Tree of Life didn't work at all for me. I didn't walk out, but a good 20% of the audience did at my screening.

BTW, here's one theatre's way of cutting their losses.
posted by fairmettle at 5:21 PM on June 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


They probably expected a zany and easily digestible Jim Carrey comedy.

I got a group of people to go see The Truman Show opening weekend. At least three people went along who had never heard of the movie and had no idea what it was about other than knowing that Jim Carrey was in it.

If there was ever a movie I could have walked into completely cold, even with false expectations, it would have been that one.
posted by hippybear at 5:23 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seems about right based on the showing I went to. Packed house, and the cinema was noticeably emptier when the lights came up.

Honestly it's excruciatingly slow, and if you aren't nostalgic for your childhood (bonus: in the 1950s) then it's probably a pass. It's shot well and acted superbly, however. The space/dinosaur scene seems campy to a child of the internet age.

If you want a 12-minute beautifully hilarious substitute, spend a buck and watch Don Hertzfeldt's (hand-drawn!) the Meaning of Life. It feels like a better investment.
posted by t_dubs at 5:24 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I found, The Thin Red Line, very predictable, boring. Yes, the scenes were shot very pretty, but the plot was annoying as hell.

The book is intentionally boring. The movie was not going for a Bruckheimer Black Hawk Down wartertainment style. I thought it represented the book quite well.

I'd be interested to know how many people who walk out on this would also have no problem walking out on Days of Heaven.
posted by ageispolis at 5:27 PM on June 30, 2011


Apparently a lot of people walked out of showings of "Sunshine."

You mean Eternal Sunshine yada yada..., surely, not the really-awesome-at-the-start-and-oh-it's-Event-Horizon Sunshine?
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:28 PM on June 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


You want walkouts? Project a reel or two of Irreversible.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:28 PM on June 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


Malick is a dull and unimportant film maker.

We're in an era where people can download films in minutes at home. Films in high definition, 6 months before their cinematic release. Whether people sit in or walk out of a big building where a film is being played is of zero relevance to anything.
posted by fire&wings at 5:29 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


I loved Wendie Malick in Just Shoot Me!, but this doesn't seem very funny at all.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:29 PM on June 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


Oh I didn't know this guy did The Thin Red Line, I absolutely adore that movie and the soundtrack is a heartbreaker. Absolutely beautiful film in every way.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:29 PM on June 30, 2011


I'm not surprised. I recall actually being amazed that no on in my screening walked out. Not that I was thinking of walking out myself, (I'm a film snob) but it is definitely not what your average movie goer is looking for these days.

More interested would be to find out at what minute mark do most of these walk out occur. My guess would be at least 70% of those 5 - 10% leave within the first 40 minutes.
posted by matt_od at 5:29 PM on June 30, 2011


not the really-awesome-at-the-start-and-oh-it's-Event-Horizon Sunshine?

Yeah, what was up with that? That was 2/3rds of a top-10 of all-time sci-fi movie and then it was all like "jk lol!"
posted by ORthey at 5:30 PM on June 30, 2011 [16 favorites]


Malick is a dull and unimportant film maker.

Oh. Well, that settles that, then.
posted by steambadger at 5:31 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Malick is a dull and unimportant film maker.

Unimportant to whom? You? Sure, but who gives a shit.
To the filmmaking community? Hah, yeah right.
posted by matt_od at 5:31 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only movie I've seen by this guy is The Thin Red Line. That movie was horrible. Horrible horrible horrible. Three hours of voiced-over internal thoughts of several different characters intending to sound deep and introspective but winding up sounding teen-angsty, with none of the characters having thoughts that are noticeably different than those of the others. Seriously, you could take that script and shuffle it, changing whatever character that is shown oh-so-seriously pondering while whatever oh-so-serious voiceover is going on, and I defy you to detect a difference.
posted by Flunkie at 5:32 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


We're in an era where people can download films in minutes at home. Films in high definition, 6 months before their cinematic release.

If you could flick me a torrent link to a DVD promo of Transformers 3 I'd sure appreciate it.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:32 PM on June 30, 2011


Christopher Nolan and David Fincher on Terrence Malick's Tree of Life.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 5:33 PM on June 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


KaizenSoze: I found, The Thin Red Line, very predictable, boring. Yes, the scenes were shot very pretty, but the plot was annoying as hell.

Really? Wow... I find that so surprising. That movie blew my mind.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:33 PM on June 30, 2011


There is a majorly long semi-abstract fugue pretty soon after the characters are introduced which isn't typical even for Malick.

The fuckin' UNIVERSE!? B O R I N G

Nobody walked out when I went, but that was opening night.
posted by mike_bling at 5:33 PM on June 30, 2011


I love Malick, I really do, but sometimes I wonder why he doesn't stretch himself more. Wes Anderson, for instance, gets a lot of criticism for making the same movie over and over again, but Malick, likely because he's arthouse and all that, doesn't seem to get that criticism from those who love him. He does what he does so beautifully and so well, but I can understand folks getting tired of the wandering shots of nature mixed with detached voiceovers that permeate his films.

That said, he's a unique talent and his movies are a significant part of American cinema.
posted by ORthey at 5:34 PM on June 30, 2011


Just because people don't like this particular film does not make them knuckle-dragging neanderthals who just want to be sedated by more Michael Bay films.
posted by proj at 5:36 PM on June 30, 2011 [20 favorites]


I can certainly understand how an unadventurous moviegoer used to linear, straightforward narratives would be baffled and turned off.

Oh yes, those proles.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:37 PM on June 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


Three hours of voiced-over internal thoughts of several different characters intending to sound deep and introspective but winding up sounding teen-angsty, with none of the characters having thoughts that are noticeably different than those of the others.

I'll agree with that - I could have done without Jim Caviezel's rambling remembrances of his life back home. Those were pretty bad.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:37 PM on June 30, 2011


Just because people don't like this particular film does not make them knuckle-dragging neanderthals who just want to be sedated by more Michael Bay films.

That's presumably an aside to me but I'm serious, I actually want a link to TF3 because a) I actually genuinely want to see it, and think of me as you will for admitting that and b) apparently it was available in high-def 6 months ago and it's because of that that cinemas and filmmakers like Malick don't matter any more...or something.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:39 PM on June 30, 2011


Oh, and I loved Jesse James, hated Thin Red Line and have pretty much no desire to see this film. I do not mind non-linear, cerebral, or unorthodox. However, non-linear, cerebral, unorthodox doesn't always produce a great film.
posted by proj at 5:40 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you want a 12-minute beautifully hilarious substitute, spend a buck and watch Don Hertzfeldt's (hand-drawn!) the Meaning of Life. It feels like a better investment.

OMG! Don Hertzfeldt!? Mr. Silly Hats ONLY? Now that is money well spent.

And now, angry ticks fly out of my nipples!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:41 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Eternal Sunshine" was cheesy, illogical and dreadful. Unlike "Malkovich", "Adaptation" "Synecdoche" and, yes, even "Human Nature".

All right, who wants some? Outside, in the car park, NOW.
posted by Decani at 5:41 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Warning: Movie no all explosion go boom.


Oh please.
This is the filmic equivalent of "Oh yeah? Well what do you listen to? Justin Bieber?!"

It's disingenuous to assume that the only reason one could have for not liking this film is that they are of the Paul Blart set, expecting to see some usual mainstream pap.

That certain people find it totally inconceivable that anyone but a total rube could do anything but love the new Malick film is exactly what I was railing against in the last Malick fpp a few months ago, and something that I have brought up debating the merits of the film with friends since we saw it a couple weeks ago.
And that is: I doubt there is any film that Malick could have turned in that they wouldnt have loved, regardless of quality.
I get the impression that certain people already had most of their review worked out in their head before they even entered the theater, with words like "rapturous" and "visual feast" all but preloaded and ready to be plopped wherever they fit between other breathless 50¢ adjectives.

Its absolutely possible that perfectly reasonable, intelligent people found ToL to be ponderous, at times unintentionally silly, and far too insistent on its "look at me Saying Big Things cuz Im totally doing that as hard as I can" themes. Themes that btw arent nearly as groundbreaking as the film seems to believe they are.

Every year we get one film that people adopt as their personal Cineaste Merit Badge that supporters are so proud of themselves for "getting" that they think that any criticism of their crown jewel just has to (has to) be coming from the yokels in the cheap seats.

If you loved ToL thats great. If you were indifferent to it thats great too. If it changed your life, that too is awesome. For real. That's whats great about art. But me thinking it's a worthy-effort but a huge misfire doesnt make your palate more refined or mine less.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:42 PM on June 30, 2011 [30 favorites]


Yeah, "Human Nature" was just dreadful.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 5:43 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, I gave up on Brad Pitt after Benjamin Button. What the fuck was that? What a shockingly painful and shitty film.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:44 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just because people don't like this particular film does not make them knuckle-dragging neanderthals who just want to be sedated by more Michael Bay films.

None of the neanderthals I knew ever dragged their hands (I'm very old). Also, none of them would have been caught dead at a Michael Bay film (too loud). I seriously wonder how they would have reacted to Tree of Life? My guess is, they would have stove in the projectionist's head to ward off the sorcery. Then they would have walked out.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:44 PM on June 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


We had 3 folks leave out of about 40 at the Sunday afternoon showing we went to, so yeah, that sounds about right. They made it through 50 minutes, at least.

It's a completely fearless movie and one of the most interesting ones I've seen this year (certainly the most interesting one I've seen in a theater this year). But I'm not sure it's completely successful - in fact, I'd suggest it's kind of unfocused and rambling in ways brilliant Malick films like The New World and Days of Heaven, for all their poetry and abstract storytelling, weren't. The 20-minute galaxy/evolution sequence is gorgeous (I'm trying to find an article I just read about the experimental short Malick sampled in that sequence but am coming up empty) but feels like a kludge solution to the larger questions he seems to have wanted to raise. In the end, it just didn't fit together for me, and kind of dissolved at the end in a way that felt unsatisfying.

But man, the gentle unfolding of the family story is great, and the filming feels so loose and gorgeous, particularly when Malick is doing his "groove on nature" thing (outside of that evolution sequence, I mean). I'd love to see someone do a straight family drama in that style.

Btw, I'm always surprised at how many Malick fans I meet who've somehow managed not to see The New World. If that includes anyone here, you're really missing out. The integration of the story (which there's more of than usual) and Malick's poetic impulses is at least as good as in Days of Heaven. Seriously, it's my fave of his films. It unfolds slowly, of course, and tests your patience, of course, but it really delivers.
posted by mediareport at 5:45 PM on June 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


We will have to ask Mark Sisson how paleo man would have reacted, I suppose.
posted by proj at 5:46 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The space/dinosaur scene seems campy to a child of the internet age.

Wait. It has a campy space/dinosaur scene? AWESOME!!!!!!
posted by The World Famous at 5:46 PM on June 30, 2011


I don't go to the theater very often, but when I do I like this kind of film. I don't really go to be entertained (I own like, what, $7,000 worth of DEDICATED ENTERTAINMENT EQUIPMENT at home), I go to be submerged. I like that cinema experience. For what it's worth, I'd get the same kick, on the different end of the spectrum, from Transformers 3. If ToL is meditative, T3 is exhilarating in as far as being a cinema kind of lets you, uh. Drop your pre-occupation with being entertained? Up your suspension of disbelief? I like the wholeness of it.

Anyway, this is one of those things where I just have to be like "Other people have drastically different experiences than I do!".
posted by GilloD at 5:48 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


+1 for the XTC quote.
posted by chrisgregory at 5:48 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


BTW, here's one theatre's way of cutting their losses.

Oh shit, is that the Avon in Providence?

More related to the conversation, I find the characterization of moviegoers in this thread a bit troubling; adjectives like "unadventurous" and phrases like "definitely not what your average movie goer is looking for these days" and "Typical Theater Goer, Warning: Movie no all explosion go boom" make it seem like not liking this movie (or this type of movie) means that you're just not smart or with it enough or have no appreciation for things that are truly good. Plenty of people don't like movies that you like and it doesn't mean that they are stupid or beneath you. Some people (including me) pretty much just go to movies as entertainment and not art because it's something we do to relax. It doesn't mean we're stupid or unintellectual, it just means we don't like the same things you do. This is especially true because many films take some effort and background to understand, they're not not something you just go into and appreciate context-free. You need to learn how to understand stuff like this (please correct me if I'm wrong about this particular movie, it's just something I've noticed; I have friends who've told me that there's stuff I don't like because I just don't get it, and that's probably true, but it's not a failure on my part, it simply means that I just don't get it. I don't make fun of them for liking it, they don't need to have a problem with me not liking it). The fact that you have this context and appreciation and I don't doesn't mean I'm an idiot, it just means I've directed my time and intellectual energy in different ways.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:49 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have complaints on several levels about this film, but just for starters, there's a lot of voiceovers that need to be more clearly attributable to a specific character, there's a stunning amount of spacey digression, the central event of the film happens offscreen and is never described or explained in any kind of satisfying level of detail. And his vision of Heaven or the afterlife is almost insultingly simplistic and a disappointing stab at resolution.

Geez, when I sat down to write this, I didn't intend for it to be a hit job. There's lots to like about this movie, some scaring honest recollections of family life, it's visually gorgeous, you care about the characters. But it's about 45 minutes too long, and as a date flick, it's a mood killer.
posted by newdaddy at 5:49 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


BTW, here's one theatre's way of cutting their losses.

I love that they had the guts to do that. It's a fair statement for a movie theater to make about an experimental film.
posted by mediareport at 5:49 PM on June 30, 2011


I don't think anyone was saying that if you don't like ToL you're a knuckle dragging, Michael Bay/Paul Blart loving neanderthal. We're saying you're one of those if you walked out on it!
posted by matt_od at 5:49 PM on June 30, 2011


It's disingenuous to assume that the only reason one could have for not liking this film is that they are of the Paul Blart set, expecting to see some usual mainstream pap.

People who are not "of the Paul Blart set" can summon the patience to finish watching a movie. As previously stated, it's significantly shorter than the new Transformers sequel.

People who are not "of the Paul Blart set" research the movie they're about to see before paying the full price for a ticket. And with tickets costing an arm and a leg these days, research seems like a commonsense idea.

People who are not "of the Paul Blart set" can ever so briefly step out of their comfort zone and watch some pretty pictures on a giant movie screen, even if it's not your typical movie with your typical idea of narrative development. Seriously, anger because a visual spectacle doesn't follow the extremely restrictive demands of modern moviemaking conventions?
posted by Nomyte at 5:50 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


exists about halfway between Persona and Dog Star Man

It gives every suggestion of being a Brakhage film with a Hollywood budget and star.
posted by Trurl at 5:50 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Incidentally, I gave up on Brad Pitt

He's fantastic in this one. The acting - even the kids - is superb throughout, but Pitt is really, really good this time out.
posted by mediareport at 5:51 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is ridiculous! I walk out on movies when I don't enjoy them AT ALL (rarely) and would rather be doing something else. That doesn't mean I'm not as grown up as someone else who sits through a whole movie. Some people are walk-outters, some people are not. Check your elitism and worry about yourself before passing judgment on those with different preferences.
posted by proj at 5:51 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Plenty of people don't like movies that you like and it doesn't mean that they are stupid or beneath you.

No but see this is important because this is what Im talking about: people who align themselves with a film more because of what it means about them to have liked it.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:52 PM on June 30, 2011


This...this looks like someone rammed Koyaanisqatsi into Mad Men in a particle accelerator.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:53 PM on June 30, 2011 [33 favorites]


This is ridiculous! I walk out on movies when I don't enjoy them AT ALL (rarely) and would rather be doing something else. That doesn't mean I'm not as grown up as someone else who sits through a whole movie. Some people are walk-outters, some people are not. Check your elitism and worry about yourself before passing judgment on those with different preferences.

I kind of thing that's exactly what it means. And that doesn't make you a bad person. But summoning the patience and abstract critical skills to enjoy and interpret a piece of art- whether you like it or you don't like it- is, I think, a very grown up skill. Overcoming your boredom, etc etc.

Look, I still play D&D- I don't think any of us are "100% GROWN UP" on the spectrum.
posted by GilloD at 5:54 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


People who are not "of the Paul Blart set" can summon the patience to finish watching a movie. As previously stated, it's significantly shorter than the new Transformers sequel.

People who are not "of the Paul Blart set" research the movie they're about to see before paying the full price for a ticket. And with tickets costing an arm and a leg these days, research seems like a commonsense idea.

People who are not "of the Paul Blart set" can ever so briefly step out of their comfort zone and watch some pretty pictures on a giant movie screen, even if it's not your typical movie with your typical idea of narrative development. Seriously, anger because a visual spectacle doesn't follow the extremely restrictive demands of modern moviemaking conventions?
posted by Nomyte at 5:50 PM on June 30 [+] [!]


This is also ridiculous and a major case of projecting your own ideas onto a diverse set of people with different preferences than yourself. Because people walk out on a Malick film, they are incapable of enjoying any movie that doesn't follow the "extremely restrictive demands of modern moviemaking conventions?" That's drivel. For a start, you have no idea why people leave or what they enjoy. Second, what are you, Malick's agent? And third, this is a golden age for inventive film. To act like Malick is the only innovator in the field is beyond absurd.
posted by proj at 5:54 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


This...this looks like someone rammed Koyaanisqatsi into Mad Men in a particle accelerator.
You stole that from me! I said that (basically, not the particle accelerator part) in the men's room after watching the film!
posted by matt_od at 5:55 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is ridiculous! I walk out on movies when -

Sorry, that's as far as I got. Lost interest.

/not really. I just can't resist an obvious joke. I am the Paul Blart of on-line comedians.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:55 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Incidentally, I gave up on Brad Pitt after Benjamin Button. What the fuck was that? What a shockingly painful and shitty film.

That's like giving up on hamburgers because you went to a shitty barbecue. The movie wasn't called The Curious Story of What Every Other Film Brad Pitt Will Ever Be In Is Exactly Like.
posted by cortex at 5:58 PM on June 30, 2011 [26 favorites]


Is the population of hipsters up 5%?
posted by casual observer at 5:58 PM on June 30, 2011


The movie wasn't called The Curious Story of What Every Other Film Brad Pitt Will Ever Be In Is Exactly Like.

Be fair - that was the subtext.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:59 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


And third, this is a golden age for inventive film.

Thats a point I forgot to bring up.
It's simply not 1978 any more.
The visuals, while beautiful, are pretty commonplace to anyone with a copy of iTunes.
The final scene looks like any number of pharmaceutical commercials.
Even the "lyrical" images in the stable middle third are nothing new to anyone who saw an AT&T commercial in the 90s.
And this says nothing about the stale themes.

I'm not going to be cowed into some artificial awe just because some self-appointed tastemakers insist that this stuff is weightier and bolder than it really is.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:59 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Actually, now that I think about it, the acting of the kids in this film is so good it should start a fucking revolution in the way kids are filmed. Child actors almost always give me hives; when they show up they're usually the biggest disbelief I have to suspend. That Malick could get such amazingly natural and yet very nuanced and emotionally powerful performances out of the kids in this movie is amazing.

Seriously. Other directors need to study how he did it and start the fucking revolution already.
posted by mediareport at 5:59 PM on June 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


I don't like subtext, I prefer to see dubbed versions instead.
posted by cortex at 6:00 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


People who are not "of the Paul Blart set" can ever so briefly step out of their comfort zone and watch some pretty pictures on a giant movie screen

I kind of thing that's exactly what it means. And that doesn't make you a bad person. But summoning the patience and abstract critical skills to enjoy and interpret a piece of art- whether you like it or you don't like it- is, I think, a very grown up skill.


I see what you mean but I think that both of these comments are missing that pretty much all of us have a very finite amount of time to do things that we choose to do or that we do just to enjoy. If that's how you want to spend your leisure time that's awesome, but being as we are all adults odds are good that we spend much of our time doing stuff we don't want to do. Why would we want to take our limited personal time and spend it doing something we aren't enjoying? I don't mean crazy hedonism, I just mean if I'm watching a movie I don't enjoy I could stop and watch a movie I do enjoy or read a book or something. I agree that "summoning the patience and abstract critical skills to enjoy and interpret a piece of art- whether you like it or you don't like it" is a "grown up skill" but I also think that learning to cut your losses and use your time as best you can to maximize your happiness is an important skill too.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:00 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


People who are not "of the Paul Blart set" can ever so briefly step out of their comfort zone and watch some pretty pictures on a giant movie screen, even if it's not your typical movie with your typical idea of narrative development.

Huh. I'm not "of the Paul Blart set." I haven't seen Tree of Life yet. But if it's boring me to tears and is in clear need of a serious edit, I don't see why I should suffer through the whole thing just to prove that I'm intellectual enough or something. I almost never walk out of a movie and I love me some esoteric craziness, for sure. But come on, now. You're not seriously suggesting that anyone who is not willing to sit through, basically, any movie no matter what it is is "of the Paul Blart set," are you?

Would you sit through Paul Blart: Mall Cop? If not, your argument sort of loses whatever small amount of steam it had.
posted by The World Famous at 6:01 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


I liked it because apparently you can be into God, LSD AND Freud. I never knew that.
posted by mike_bling at 6:03 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Would you sit through Paul Blart: Mall Cop?

No, I would find out what kind of movie it is before I went to it.

I have no problem with people who don't go to see ToL. Some people like Paul Blart, and it's clearly none of my business.

As far as the "cutting your losses" argument goes, I doubt that the people who walk out of ToL then turn around and go to a movie they'll actually enjoy. Once you've paid for the ticket and sat through a good portion of the movie, you might as well watch it, unless it's revolting or unusually offensive.
posted by Nomyte at 6:07 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, I gave up on Brad Pitt after Benjamin Button. What the fuck was that? What a shockingly painful and shitty film.

Yes, Benjamin Button was a total bore, but soes this mean you didn't see Pitt in Inglourious Basterds? Because if so I feel bad for you. IB was violent, odd, touching, funny, smart, and surprising...and Pitt was the second-best actor in the film. He was only eclipsed by Christoph Waltz, who won the Academy Award.
posted by misha at 6:07 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I watch a lot of movies on TV nowadays, so I don't get to walk out of the bad ones. I just turn them off. But no one gets to see me walk out. It's a hollow victory.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:09 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nomyte, you're fighting kind of a ridiculous battle now. You've never gone to see a movie and then found out it's disappointing, despite your research and the accolades it earned? Other people walk out on films if their time is too valued to do something they don't enjoy. I'm an academic and frequently read things I find boring for their value; I always give films their fair shake. I can sit and concentrate for a long time. By rights, I should be making the case that you make -- lord knows I know plenty of highly elitist academics. However, I find the case that you're making to be absurd.
posted by proj at 6:09 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I loved it but it was a Malick film and it's not really a crowd pleaser. I'm not sure what people were expecting or maybe people just wander into movies without knowing anything about them? It's only playing in one small theater in my city while there are thirty showings of Thor/Green Lantern/Transformers/etc. in the area so you'd have to go out of your way to find it and then be offended by it.
posted by octothorpe at 6:09 PM on June 30, 2011


No, I would find out what kind of movie it is before I went to it.

If you somehow inadvertently went to it or you read a weird review that totally mischaracterized it or something, would you sit through it? Would you ever so briefly step out of your comfort zone and watch some pretty pictures on a giant movie screen, even if it's not your typical movie with your typical idea of narrative development?
posted by The World Famous at 6:10 PM on June 30, 2011


I don't like calling everyone who didn't like the film philistines. I can easily see why someone might have not liked the movie or even hated the movie even though I loved it. But I think the invocation of Truman Show or Eternal Sunshine points to an important issue. Tree of life isn't weird like those are. If you have had the diet of films that most people have had, even most borderline film snobs have had. Tree of Life will be by far the weirdest movie you have ever seen. I cannot think of a film as unusual in how it tells a story and the risks that it took that has been released as widely as Tree of Life has.

You know how sometimes you go to a Chinese food restaurant and you order something and the waitress warns you that it is really spicy. And you are all like, whatever I love spicy food how spicy could it be?, and then you get it and it is so spicy you get a runny nose and are just crying because it's seriously way too spicy for you.
posted by I Foody at 6:11 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would never walk out on this film. I would never walk into this film. This is what Blue Ray, big screens, and surround sound were invented for. I love films that make me feel intellectually and culturally superior. A lot! But masturbating in arthouse theatres is usually frowned upon, unless it's in the film, or the film about the making of the film, or the director's cut of the making of the film. So I just buy the Blue Rays and put them on my shelf for my friends to see that I own. Then I masturbate while they tell me what great taste I have in movies. It's much faster than actually watching the films. Of course I do this with Paul Blart Malware Cop and iTransformers, too. Just with different friends. I've actually never turned on my home theater. Not sure how to hook the damn thing up, and who has the time, what with all the masturbating.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:11 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


This film is still with me, a week later. I particularly liked the voices and the leading questions, that move the film from past to past, to present. The lush soundtrack, with birds singing, I found to be comfortingly real. The various ways the film watches its characters, and the reruns of old fifties marital conflict and crooked ideals, was like a visit to my past. My family owned both family cars from the sets, at one time or another in our history.

The beauty of this film, has lingered with me, for days. I have never seen a film by this director, a very adventurous and alluring work.

I understand the walkouts, some religious people might take offense to a more holistic, less human style God. The pace was slow in places, and particularly I felt he had a difficult time at the ending, too many images.

The dynamic of the fifties marriage is something that many boomers probably don't want to delve into, being the source material for bad memories. I think the film is powerful in the way it works on memory. It is so soft, so beautiful, you let the wolf into the house, before you realize what it is going to do. Yet the film is so artistically crafted it softens its own blows.

It floats like a butterfly, flower, to surface, to impending catastrophe, lightly carried on the currents of familial affection, loss, resolution, and infinity.
posted by Oyéah at 6:11 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't go to see it on the strength of that trailer, not because its boring but because it's not boring enough.

Seriously, it looks like all the clichés of Hollywood-schmaltzy naffness plugged into a pseudo experimental format and I can't see it pleasing either demographic.
posted by pmcp at 6:12 PM on June 30, 2011


I would have walked out, but I was sleeping. It seemed like a perfect example of aspirational viewing to me.
posted by jasper411 at 6:13 PM on June 30, 2011



KaizenSoze: I found, The Thin Red Line, very predictable, boring. Yes, the scenes were shot very pretty, but the plot was annoying as hell.

Really? Wow... I find that so surprising. That movie blew my mind.


For me, experiences are of course personal, it was very predictable. There was a scene right near the beginning, they send two scouts ahead after meeting no resistance. As soon as they heading out, I said to myself, they are going to get shot at almost the same time by completely invisible enemies. Ten seconds later, bang. Practically, everything was foreshadowed with a sledgehammer.
posted by KaizenSoze at 6:14 PM on June 30, 2011


I always give films their fair shake.

Obviously you don't.

I think the deeper argument here is whether a piece of art deserves something other than quick judgment. The argument is that a person shows better character and grows a little intellectually when they challenge themselves to experience something they don't like at first.
posted by stroke_count at 6:16 PM on June 30, 2011


I can't see it pleasing either demographic.

It's "pleasing" plenty of folks, pmcp, perhaps not least because they realize it's possible to enjoy many, but not necessarily all, things about a movie. It's not a binary thing for many of us. Anyway, your impression based on viewing the trailer strikes me as far off the mark, but I'd suggest if you've never seen a Malick film you might want to start with Badlands, his (relatively straightforward while poetic and open-ended) first film, or The New World, to me the most directly engaging of his later films.
posted by mediareport at 6:18 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


The argument is that a person shows better character and grows a little intellectually when they challenge themselves to experience something they don't like at first.

That's what they said about the Bush administration. Didn't care for the second act, either.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:19 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also commend the wardrobe and set design people. I remember my Dad gardening in his suit pants, I remember Mom dressed up to serve dinner, and I remember we children running wild in the Summer, often verging on outrageous catastrophe, and making it home for dinner, with nothing to say about our adventuring. The fog truck, I had forgotten about the boys riding their bikes in clouds of DDT. They did their research. It was outrageously beautiful, and always shot in a very special light.
posted by Oyéah at 6:20 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought Tree of Life was amazing and beautiful. Certainly one of the best cinematic experiences in my life. But I also realise it's not for everyone, and I don't mean some people "won't get it", it's just not a movie that will appeal to a majority. And that's okay.

We had about 10 or so people walk out in a crowd of 100, so 10% seems right on the mark.
posted by liquorice at 6:21 PM on June 30, 2011


Btw I'm not exactly in the walkouts camp either. Walking out is their prerogative and I respect that. I tend to stick with things to conclusion myself.

Also I never found the film all that long or impenetrable.
If anything some oblique daring and dash would have been happily welcome.
The reason that the second act works so much better than the first and third isnt because it's more linear. It succeeds because you can feel a statement and reason for being propelling it along.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 6:23 PM on June 30, 2011


Maybe this film is a little like Amarcord by Fellini, without the famous Fellini "strange", but wait, there is a scene in a bedroom, and a breathless abandonment of the place.
posted by Oyéah at 6:23 PM on June 30, 2011


I've noticed a similar walkout rate at the movie theatre I work for. The manager of the theatre has taken to telling people Brad Pitt is "only in it for about thirty seconds," based on the testimony of some of the people who walked out. That tells me that people are checking out somewhere in the first act of the movie, before the meaty middle set in the 1950's.

I'm disappointed. I'm not surprised. You can lead an audience to Malick, but you can't make it think, as it were.

Now, I believe movies are important, and special, in their own way, so it could dishearten me to see people devouring The Hangover: Part II or Transformers 3 while they reject The Tree of Life (I already have an emblematic case study, and I've only been working there for two months!) But after an encounter I had last week, I'm at least not upset about it.

After the credits for The Tree of Life finished rolling and the audience, muttering and blinking, had finished filing out past me, I stepped into the cinema to clean it. An old woman was shuffling towards the exit, on a walker, just as I entered the room. "Have a good night," I said, in the timbre I've perfected through years of work in the service industry.

"That was a wonderful film," she said. "Have you seen it yet?"

"No... no, I haven't. I'm seeing it on Monday, though, and I'm excited."

"That's good," she said, wheeling her way out the door. "It's different. It's not for everybody. But stick with it."

I'm not sure exactly what I'm trying to say about this, except that there's a certain wisdom in recognizing that something can be both "wonderful" and "not for everybody." The people who expected a Brad Pitt summer action vehicle don't deserve scorn, not exactly. And given the choice between a piece of art that will comfortably placate everybody, and a piece of art that will make ten percent walk out demanding refunds and have one single solitary person stay behind to tell me it requires patience and an open mind, but is rewarding and wonderful (filled with wonder!), I'll take the second every time.

Hey, look! Right on time, today's issue of my local arts and entertainment newspaper has printed a letter on this subject! Let's see:

Re: "A master of meditative beauty"

What in the name of Angelina Jolie where [sic] you smoking, Robery Moyes! [sic]

It must have been some pretty freekin [sic] good shit to make you give "Tree of Life" five stars.

Only in the mind of a stoned teen-ager or the vapid flatland of star-addled Hollywood could such a piece of shallow pretension pass as some kind of deeply meaningful art.

In my opinion, you should be made to stand outside the Odeon theatre on a Saturday night and hand out $10 bills as you give an apology to all the bored-looking patrons.


Note that the title of the review this letter is a response to literally contains the phrase, "meditative beauty". Hey, I'm back to being angry!

posted by EmGeeJay at 6:24 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


I haven't seen Tree of Life but I love Malick's other films.

Here's the thing, I have an unusual tolerance for long, drawn out movies, but not in a single sitting. I really wish there was a disclaimer that you could have in front of people and say, "Don't worry, you don't have to see this in one sitting, it is alright." Sure I had cinema teachers who would kill me to say this, but this is the truth. I'll probably see Tree of Life, half one night and half the next night and love it. This is how I saw a good portion of Antonioni's films, and I love him and I love cinema as a result.

Okay this is a bit cheating as this is still in showing in theaters, but really, watch movies this way. Let it soak in, watch it over several nights, enjoy it. This is how I enjoy other works of art (books, music) why not film?
posted by geoff. at 6:24 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


apparently you can be into God, LSD AND Freud.

Would this be a good combo to get into just before the movie?
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 6:24 PM on June 30, 2011


Geoff, I had to do that with "Spinal Tap"
posted by goalyeehah at 6:28 PM on June 30, 2011


Only if God gives you the LSD, and Freud takes a left right in front of you and goes to Hangover 2. The movie is a stand alone item, fully engaging, no need for mental floss.
posted by Oyéah at 6:30 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sorry - I didn't quite mean to sound so black and white about it. All I mean is that from the look of it there will not only be people who walk out because there aren't enough Brad Pitt moments but it also looks a bit over blown and pompous for serious art-house people.

But as I said, I'm only making that judgement based on the trailer. So I am completely ignorant to the actual film and should probably shut up. I'll try and check out some other Malick stuff, Badlands does sound pretty interesting from the imdb description/reviews.
posted by pmcp at 6:34 PM on June 30, 2011


It's disingenuous to assume that the only reason one could have for not liking this film is that they are of the Paul Blart set, expecting to see some usual mainstream pap.

It would be. But, as per the linked articles and anecdotal evidence in this thread a lot of people are walking out because they see Brad Pitt's name and go having no idea what they are about to see.

There are plenty of reasons to walk out of a film. Not all of them are stupid.

Seeing that nice girl from Saved By The Bell on a movie poster and being shocked when Showgirls comes on is pretty stupid.
posted by munchingzombie at 6:34 PM on June 30, 2011


All joking aside, this really is the kind of movie that I would only watch on Blue Ray in my own home. I have a hard enough time putting up with other theater goers with movies that are purely for the thrills. The distraction of trying to soak up the atmosphere of this type of film while people around me are shuffling and muttering in boredom and frustration - and then filing out mid-film - would absolutely ruin any chance I'd have at immersing myself in the experience.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:35 PM on June 30, 2011


I can imagine that if you don't have some idea of what you're getting into, you might find that his movies aren't to your liking.

There is a such a thing as a "Terrance Malick film", and if you're into his more recent films (Badlands being an outlier exception), then you will probably like Tree of Life. There are people that like "Terrance Malick films." It's not a statement of intellectualism or anti-intellectualism to like them or dislike them-- it's just a style that really resonates with some people but not others.

In the modern age, "great visuals" and the like are available to everyone and in all movies. In the opening night showing in DC, people laughed at the end (so I heard) because, I think, the themes and scenes are somewhat dated to the point of being treated as humorous, in the same way that we chuckle at 70s-era Public Service Announcements.

The praise for the movie here in the thread is mostly on a meta-level: eg, "the acting of the kids in this film is so good it should start a fucking revolution in the way kids are filmed" and "I also commend the wardrobe and set design people. ... It was outrageously beautiful, and always shot in a very special light." These are the sort of things relevant for filmmakers. Those who have a stake in the craft of filmmaking may appreciate this for a long time to come. But for those for whom there are many options with which to spend 2 hours of non-fungible time? There are so many more satisfying alternatives with which to spend your time that it doesn't surprise me at all if someone who's not into "Terrance Malick films" isn't going to sit all the way through this.
posted by deanc at 6:36 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


I no longer make any apologies when defending Brad Pitt's acting. He's a good actor. Period.

I realized this after watching the scene in the deeply terrible Meet Joe Black when he, as Death, speaks with a deep patois in conversation with a Jamaican woman dying in a hospital. It's a scene that, shall we say, requires an exceptional suspension of disbelief.

Keanu Reeves could not have pulled it off. Neither could Russell Crowe. Nor Dustin Hoffman, for that matter.

Brad Pitt pulled it off. Don't ask me how.

He can act.
posted by Trurl at 6:36 PM on June 30, 2011 [10 favorites]



Brad Pitt pulled it off. Don't ask me how.

He can act.


I like Pitt, the best saying I heard about him. He is a great character actor, trapped in a leading man's body.

He rocked in, Snatch, even if you couldn't understand a damn word he said.
posted by KaizenSoze at 6:39 PM on June 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


If you like Malick's other films, by all means- go and see this in the best theater that you can. Be forewarned-- it's experimental even for Terry.

If you hate Malick's other films, those are going to seem heavily plotted and easy to watch in comparison.

If you've never seen a Malick film, but like art films-- eat lunch, drink a green tea, and give it a shot.

If you've never seen a Malick film and are only going to see this for Brad Pitt, just get back in the Transformer's line.
posted by schmattakid at 6:40 PM on June 30, 2011


Being spatial has it's drawbacks.
posted by clavdivs at 6:41 PM on June 30, 2011


Hmm, I didn't realize walking out was a thing people regularly did without being outrageously offended. I guess I tend to go to movies opening week when it seems like a greater number of people who really want to see the film are there; or maybe there's less a of a culture of walkouts in the Bay Area. Or I'm just oblivious. The only time I've ever noticed people walking out of a film were when two creeps who had been snickering through all the sex scenes in Crash (Cronenberg) had to leave in a very obvious and huffy way when James and Vaughn have sex in the car.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:42 PM on June 30, 2011


The praise for the movie here in the thread is mostly on a meta-level...

For what it's worth, I don't think praise of the amazingly natural acting in a movie is "on a meta-level" at all. Certainly my praise wasn't meant that way. The acting is across the board wonderful in this movie, and that much of it comes from children is downright astonishing. It's hard to imagine more straightforward, non-meta-level praise for a movie.
posted by mediareport at 6:42 PM on June 30, 2011


The acting is across the board wonderful in this movie, and that much of it comes from children is downright astonishing.

Remember the quality of the work he got from Linda Manz.
posted by Trurl at 6:45 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmm, during the trailer, my browser buffered the clip of the kids playing near the DDT truck.
that is an odd omen.
posted by clavdivs at 6:46 PM on June 30, 2011


"Eternal Sunshine" was cheesy, illogical and dreadful.

Yeah, I'll meet you outside to duke it out over this one.

Unlike "Malkovich", "Adaptation" "Synecdoche" and, yes, even "Human Nature".

Hm. I wonder what it says about our respective tastes that I have watched none of these movies, nor even heard of the latter two.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:49 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's like giving up on hamburgers because you went to a shitty barbecue.

I'm a vegetarian, so I guess what I'm saying is I'm also a Bradpittarian.
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:50 PM on June 30, 2011


And the reason I've given up on him is not because I don't think he will ever be good in another film, like he was in Fight Club, but because I have literally had my lifetime ration of Brad Pitt. Benjamin Button was, what, seventeen, eighteen hours long?

Comes a time in a man's life he has to stand up and say "That'll do, Pitt. That'll do.
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:54 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I kind of thing that's exactly what it means. And that doesn't make you a bad person. But summoning the patience and abstract critical skills to enjoy and interpret a piece of art- whether you like it or you don't like it- is, I think, a very grown up skill. Overcoming your boredom, etc etc.

Look, I still play D&D- I don't think any of us are "100% GROWN UP" on the spectrum.
This strikes me as both silly and absurdly patronizing. "Doesn't make you a bad person"? And even you aren't all grown up?

In any case, I sat through all 170 awful minutes of The Thin Red Line. If that means that I am "very grown up", then frankly, I would prefer that I weren't.
posted by Flunkie at 6:54 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


so it could dishearten me to see people devouring The Hangover: Part II or Transformers 3 while they reject The Tree of Life

You couldn't pay me to sit through one of the Transformers movies, but I'm not disheartened to see people line up for them. The way I see it, watching one of them is punishment enough.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:55 PM on June 30, 2011


GilloD wrote ...(I own like, what, $7,000 worth of DEDICATED ENTERTAINMENT EQUIPMENT at home)...

How much of that is in Monster cables?
posted by troll at 6:58 PM on June 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


Do people actually ask for refunds because they didn't like the movie? I wouldn't imagine doing that. Then again, I usually have some idea what I'm going into.

(I didn't walk out on Tree of Life but I thought about doing so. I may have fallen asleep at some point, but I'm not sure if I did.)
posted by madcaptenor at 6:58 PM on June 30, 2011


My fiancée is in film distribution and she's just pissed that this marathon of audience punishment soaked up all the art-house screens and slow-pretentious-movie-lovers she might have sold on Meeks Cutoff or Bellflower.
posted by Now I'm Prune Tracy! at 6:59 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I walked out of The Thin Red Line. It and Armageddon are the only two movies I've ever bailed on in the middle.
posted by killdevil at 7:10 PM on June 30, 2011


Ten seconds later, bang. Practically, everything was foreshadowed with a sledgehammer.

Well foreshadowing is almost a theme in the Thin Red Line. I loved the Thin Red Line but I watched it at home in my own time.

I won't be seeing TOL at the cinemas. I don't have the stamina for long films. Being in control of the viewing experience helps me enjoy most films - it is like reading a book.
posted by vicx at 7:10 PM on June 30, 2011


Reports suggest that director Terrence Malick's recent film The Tree of Life, starring popular actor Brad Pitt, is experiencing a 5-10% walkout rate.

I *KNOW*, I just *KNOW* deep down in my heart that there are men and women who were dragged to a Kate Hudson rom-com...and they just couldn't handle it...and they left their SO right then and there. I'd like to think the walkout/breakup rate is like 23%.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:12 PM on June 30, 2011


I really liked the film: I found it immersive and beautiful and moving. But I work with a bunch of people whose cinematic tastes, while diverse, are probably better informed than 95% of the general population, and a few of them walked out of "The Tree of Life." It'd be ludicrous for me to think any less of them for doing so. The film's not for everybody, and that's that!
posted by estherbester at 7:13 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


The cosmic bit was actually really quite brilliant, and sublime in the most kantian/romatic sense of that word--and i'm really glad i saw that bit, even the dinasours. But i got this impression that the entire creation of the world happened to tell the story of an idyllic middle america, a middle america where women didn't have a voice, where men were violent, and children were in paradise until death. in the most obvious 70s stoner way possible--though i do find Pitt's ongoing project of constructing a post-masculinity, and the implications of violence there in kind of fasciating)

the films was atttempt to remake christian themes into a animist/pagan mode was interesting, but it's something Malick keeps doing (the rending of the earth in thin red line, the trauma of original contact in the new world, the tree house scenes in badlands) and this was a retraction and expansion of that--expansion b/c of the cosmic bits, and a retraction because of its obsession with that american domesiticity.

i think it failed at that, i think that the expansion and retraction meant that the entire film was off its marks, and in this sense, lacked a cohesion--i like abstract, i like ceberal, but this wasn't quite that (a 4 hour movie of the creation of the universe, w/ none of the texas stuff, or a story of texas, told in a quiet elliptical style, would both have worked well, but the two together, didn't work for me---though the 6 hour cut might)

. also, in places it was gorgeous (though i do want to make a super cut called terrance malick's rustling grass), it was v. much like 2001--though 2001 started in the paolethic era and ended in fucking space--it's epic thrust and sublimity were for a cause, this one collapsed into bathos.

(side note--it was the most literally opedial movie i've seen in a v. v. long time, which i thot was interesting, but added to my feeling that this was a worn out movie, a movie with no ideas beyond 1978. Even with Penn working in that big sexy office tower--those shots of the elevator going up and down at night, like Zabrieske Point or Point Blank)

(also about opedial--that's abstract sexuality again--how come no one fucks in Malick's movies, even in Badlands)
posted by PinkMoose at 7:19 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I basically held my breath through all 2.5 hours of Jesse James though.

Is there a version of that movie where I can switch the narrator's voice off? I don't think I can like it until I see that version.
posted by OddlySurreal at 7:34 PM on June 30, 2011


I haven't seen Tree of Life yet, but I have a love for Malick. Largely because of granfaloon-type feeling of connection with him. I haven't (at least yet) made the filmmakker thing happen for me on any commercial level, but he and I had similar experiences growing up, a generation apart, including formative years in school in the same small town in Oklahoma.

Malick wrapped principle photography on his next film, set in Bartlesville, that small Oklahoma town, a little while back. Looking over his imdb page, it appears as though this may be the only time since Badlands where he would have been editing one project while shooting another. If ToL isn't entirely successful, it may well be that his focus was divided more than it usually has been on his other films.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:34 PM on June 30, 2011


it was v. much like 2001

Legendary special effects wizard Douglas Trumbull served as visual effects consultant on the film. He did special effects for 2001, Blade Runner, and Close Encounters.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 7:34 PM on June 30, 2011


Tree of Life sounds super boring and unappealing to me - and I watch Godard for fun.
posted by serazin at 7:40 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Christ, I walked out of Sideways and it was playing in my own living room.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:44 PM on June 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


I really liked the dinosaur scenes, not just because, well DINOSAURS, but how unusually normal they were portrayed. The plesiosaur on the beach sort of inspecting a wound? The dinosaurs in the river, is one wounded or hiding? Why did the other one put the foot on its head, then sort of stroke it back? From the descriptions of the film, I was expecting T.Rex v. Stegasaurus or Brachiasaurs eating trees, ala Jurassic Park, but what I got was much more thought provoking.

I have to say the first half was more enveloping and emotional than the second half, which seemed to be a treatise on childhood. I wasn't raised in the 50's (70's for me), but a lot of it still hit home. Running around in a boy wolf-pack breaking stuff and climbing trees. Thank god my Dad wasn't crazy about a lawn though.

So what I'm trying to say is that I didn't walk out.
posted by pashdown at 7:45 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


To quote Sean Penn. "If you want to be entertained, go get yourself two hookers and an 8-ball of coke."
posted by cazoo at 8:03 PM on June 30, 2011


Seeing that nice girl from Saved By The Bell on a movie poster and being shocked when Showgirls comes on is pretty stupid.

Many, many years ago, I watched an elderly couple get huffy and publicly walk out of a theatre. The film? Caligula. Can't say as I blame them, but geez, gramma and grampa, had you read the entertainment section of the paper any time in the last month? No less an authority than Roger Ebert himself had walked out on it, I think probably everyone else in the sparse audience was there to rubberneck at an accident.
posted by gimonca at 8:23 PM on June 30, 2011


To quote Sean Penn. "If you want to be entertained, go get yourself two hookers and an 8-ball of coke."

Charlie Sheen is the most thoroughly entertained man in the world.
posted by hippybear at 8:27 PM on June 30, 2011


Enjoyed Tree of Life despite its problems.

Really enjoyed Jesse James.

Really enjoyed Eternal Sunshine.

Really enjoyed Showgirls.

I think I just really love movies.

*goes back to watching Mel Gibson's What Women Want*
posted by hermitosis at 8:42 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, "Human Nature" was just dreadful.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 1:43 AM on July 1


Only if you failed to spot just how Pythonesquely far into his cheek Kaufmann's tongue was thrust. I thought it was bloody hilarious.
posted by Decani at 8:50 PM on June 30, 2011


I saw Tree of Life twice opening week. The first day these two old bats at the end of the aisle wouldn't shut up ("This is weird!" "Are those dinosaurs? Did they go back in time through that space portal?!") and someone at the back yelled, "I'll give you your money back if you leave."

I found, The Thin Red Line, very predictable

Unless you mean "America triumphed at Guadacanal," this is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever read. What about Mulholland Drive? Were you able to see everything in that movie coming as well?
posted by dobbs at 8:54 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


My favorite review comes from the trailer's YouTube comment:
NO! MOVIE NOT GOOD! MUST SEE TRANSFORUMERS FREE! THIS BAD! NO ACTION, JUST PURE BEAUTY! I NO LIKE MOVIES LIKE THIS! ME WANT TO BE MAD AND WALK OUT OF THEATER, THEN GO HOME AND MASTERPOOP
posted by birdherder at 8:57 PM on June 30, 2011


You guys you guys you guys you guys,

What the H-E-double hockey sticks ( ;) ) is going on here? Just the other day I was watching my movie (THE TREE OF LIFE!!!) with my elderly friends from down the block, and one of them turned to me. "Terry," he said (MY FRIENDS CALL ME TERRY), "Terry," he said, "This movie is great." And here's the shocker: my friend is a nincompoop. I know!!!

Let me tell you fellows a story: After I made Days of Heaven (which I wanted to call "Love with Locusts," but they wouldn't let me), I started writing a book because of that Star Trek guy. G? I think his name was G. Which now reminds me of George Clooney! But I'm carried away. So I wrote this book, and it was about the universe and stars and the interrelation of all things. It was pretty great!!! Then I talked to my friend Jack Fisk and he said, "Terry," (TERRY!!!) "There's no way to get teenage girls to see this movie." And you know what? Jack was right.

I'll be honest: I'm disappointed in the movie too. I wanted Johnny Depp, but when I called him he said something about Why is all the rum gone? (THAT'S FROM A MOVIE, LOLOL) But I wound up with Brad Pitt. He's okay, right??? Did you know that it takes 45 minutes for sunlight to get to Jupiter?

But I like my movie, now! I saw it with my mom, but not my dad (INSIDE JOKE). It won an award!

In conclusion, please see my movie. If you send me a postcard that says you saw my movie, I'll try to get Richard Gere to visit you on your birthday. He's a pretty swell guy! He reminds me of what Heidegger said about oh jesus did you see that lightning
posted by "Doctor" Terence Malick at 9:15 PM on June 30, 2011 [22 favorites]


I find the characterization of moviegoers in this thread a bit troubling; adjectives like "unadventurous" and phrases like "definitely not what your average movie goer is looking for these days" and "Typical Theater Goer, Warning: Movie no all explosion go boom" make it seem like not liking this movie (or this type of movie) means that you're just not smart or with it enough or have no appreciation for things that are truly good. Plenty of people don't like movies that you like and it doesn't mean that they are stupid or beneath you. Some people (including me) pretty much just go to movies as entertainment and not art because it's something we do to relax. It doesn't mean we're stupid or unintellectual, it just means we don't like the same things you do.

So basically, you're an average, unadventurous moviegoer who resents being identified as such. You don't appreciate film as an art form, but don't want to be seen as someone who has no appreciation for things that are truly good.

...

Okay.
posted by gonna get a dog at 10:03 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


SPOILEY SPOILERS ABOUT TREE OF LIFE

I felt like it was an extraordinarily beautiful story about a boy and his family with a really weird and sort of silly mysticism bit at the end. The whole walking-along-the-shore bit was just so ... okay, it struck me as lazy. I know that Terrence is not lazy and that it was very deliberate but I mean lazy from like a storytelling craft standpoint. For instance: the shot of the mask falling through the water, and the fact that we have a bunch of obvious symbols in that shot that had no grounding in the story/narrative. They were just like: now I'm just going to shoot some symbols I feel are relevant. It's very direct; the whole last fifteen minutes or so are. And as much as I wanted to find the movie perfect because my god it was powerful, I just felt like it would have been better if that stuff had been presented differently. For instance, with the mother throwing her hands in the air and saying, "I give my son to you," I felt like the same effect would have been achieved with just that line of voiceover, and even that is exceedingly direct. But instead not only do we get the indulgence of the voiceover but a lengthly scene that didn't really increase the emotional impact of the line and instead ended up evaporating some of good will towards the film in general.

I don't know if everyone knows this but T.M. had a younger brother who played the guitar and killed himself as a young man, and that piece of context really changes the film, I think. The decision to not mention the boy's cause of death becomes an interesting topic of its own, in that light.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:28 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


neuromodulator, I didn't find the shore stuff obvious. What did it represent for you?
posted by dobbs at 10:50 PM on June 30, 2011


More related to the conversation, I find the characterization of moviegoers in this thread a bit troubling; adjectives like "unadventurous" and phrases like "definitely not what your average movie goer is looking for these days" and "Typical Theater Goer, Warning: Movie no all explosion go boom" make it seem like not liking this movie (or this type of movie) means that you're just not smart or with it enough or have no appreciation for things that are truly good. Plenty of people don't like movies that you like and it doesn't mean that they are stupid or beneath you. Some people (including me) pretty much just go to movies as entertainment and not art because it's something we do to relax. It doesn't mean we're stupid or unintellectual, it just means we don't like the same things you do.

But the opposite holds true, too. I don't find the "entertaining" films to be fun and relaxing; I find them endless and dull. Politely demurring when invited to go see the summer blockbuster with a group inevitably results in somewhat of a pile-on to explain The Definition Of Fun Things And Hey Don't Be Such A Stick In The Mud. (For the record, I usually just say "ohh, s'okay, not my cup of tea but I'll meet up with you afterwards/another time. No treatises on film as art whatsoever.)

I don't think that there's any reason to project "unadventurous" and "what the average movie goer is looking for" into backhanded insults. Mainstream means mainstream. That's fine.
posted by desuetude at 10:53 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


And then there's the other option which is that you might love art-house films, hate Hollywood, and still think this movie bites.
posted by serazin at 11:06 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I mean really, Terrence Malick is like fake art movie, right? It's big budget, it's got a matinee idol star, but it's artsy so we're supposed to think it's smart?
posted by serazin at 11:08 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, here it is: the guy whose experimental film gets sampled by Malick in the evolutionary sequence in Tree of Life. His name is Scott Nyerges and there are more of his films at his web site:

Nyerges was first contacted by Malick’s production company in 2009 about possible involvement in the film. Ultimately it resulted in the production licensing 12 seconds of Nyerges’ 2008 short Autumnal...Curiously, "Autumnal" and Nyerges are not listed in the credits of the film on IMDb, though he was compensated by the production for his footage. But he recognizes a still image used in the film’s poster as a digitally enhanced rendering of his work..."They were interested in avant-garde filmmakers who use abstract imagery," Nyerges recalls.

Nyerges is puzzled that amidst all the hype surrounding The Tree of Life, more attention hasn’t been given to artists whose work clearly feeds into Malick’s vision. "In the media coverage on this film no one’s really mentioned that they used the work of experimental filmmakers in these sequences."


[p.s. to Trurl: he studied under Brakhage.]

And what does Nyerges think of The Tree of Life? He praises it as ”an ambitious, lyrical, visually beautiful work. I give Malick credit for doing something very brave – essentially dropping a 20-minute experimental film in the middle of the narrative...

“It wasn’t much, but I got paid more money for licensing that one clip than I’ve ever been paid for ten years of filmmaking. This is not a field to get into if you want to be rich.”

posted by mediareport at 11:13 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


T.M. had a younger brother who played the guitar and killed himself as a young man, and that piece of context really changes the film, I think.

Wow, I'll say it does. Thanks for that.
posted by mediareport at 11:16 PM on June 30, 2011


I don't think that there's any reason to project "unadventurous" and "what the average movie goer is looking for" into backhanded insults.

Except for the fact that pretty much anyone would take being called adventurous as a compliment and the clear implication of "what the average moviegoer is looking for" is "I am above average". It's condescending, and meant to be so.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:43 AM on July 1, 2011


TSA Bans In-flight Screenings of 'Tree of Life' Due To Concerns Over High Walk-out Rates
posted by ShutterBun at 1:35 AM on July 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


I saw it yesterday, needing to kill a couple of hours, based on the high rating it got over at Rotten Tomatoes. I was unaware of this whole controversy, but there were times when I did want to walk out, too. It's not a normal movie experience. I almost dozed off at a couple points. And I'm not sure I understood it. I'm not even completely sure which son was the one portrayed by Sean Penn, later in life.

The movie's gimmick is that it's a bunch of flashes of memories. The ending was completely mystifying and obscure. And there was no explanation for why the Sean Penn character suddenly, later in life, decided to revisit the memories that make up the bulk of the movie.

All in all, I'm mystified that the movie managed an 85% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
posted by crunchland at 2:16 AM on July 1, 2011


After reading all of these comments I've come to the conclusion that people just don't have the patience to 'experience' something. Sometimes you have to allow something to happen in front of you and just deal with processing what you saw later.
posted by tmt at 2:18 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


The periodic gauzy colored lights belong to one of my uncle's collection of Wilfred lumias.
posted by brujita at 3:33 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Top didn't strike me as being any different from the other Malicks, but after hearing the Hatikvah in the trailer, I expected the film to have something to do with Judaism.
posted by brujita at 4:24 AM on July 1, 2011


There was a scene right near the beginning, they send two scouts ahead after meeting no resistance. As soon as they heading out, I said to myself, they are going to get shot at almost the same time by completely invisible enemies. Ten seconds later, bang. Practically, everything was foreshadowed with a sledgehammer.

I would suggest hat the point of that scene is actually to do with the reaction of the man who has ordered the two scouts forward and with the fact that he then has to order the rest of his men forward and move forward with them himself, into the guns. Perhaps you were too busy congratulating yourself on your perception to notice this?
posted by biffa at 4:44 AM on July 1, 2011


Reminds me of when my parents walked out of Memento because "It's just some guy staring at his tattoos!"
posted by mattholomew at 4:58 AM on July 1, 2011


Reminds me of when my parents walked out of Memento because "It's just some guy staring at his tattoos!"

The thing is that lots of people here on MeFi are the kinds of people who really liked Memento and other independent films, but suddenly because they don't like "Tree of Life," they're suddenly "average" people who only like things that are "unchallenging" and "don't have the patience to 'experience' something."

Maybe it's an experimental film where the experiment failed.
posted by deanc at 8:25 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


It doesn't bother me at all that some people aren't interested in seeing this film and I don't think they're worse people or unsophisticated rubes or anything like that as a result.

What does bother me is getting up and walking out partway through and deciding that the movie was "bad". Judging a work of art based on a fraction of that work of art is a really shitty thing to do. You might not think someone was a moron for not liking [Painter] you liked, but you might think so if their opinion was based entirely on the bottom-left 3" square of one of [Painter's] paintings.

I've watched a lot of movies, some good, some bad, some utterly terrible. I've literally never walked out of a movie and I've only turned off one movie, and that was Bats, which I saw about 15 minutes of. And you know what, even though the bottom-left 3" square of that movie had cheesy plastic bats in it, I still wouldn't consider myself to have anything like a relevant opinion on it, and if it came up in conversation I'm more likely to say "Yeah, never watched it" than "Yeah, it sucked".
posted by mstokes650 at 8:28 AM on July 1, 2011


.I've literally never walked out of a movie and I've only turned off one movie, and that was Bats, which I saw about 15 minutes of.

Oh, yeah, you missed out. In the second half of the film the director really established his thesis statement. You should have stuck with it; changed my life.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:44 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The turning point really was that lacuna late in the second act where, in the sudden too-stark respite from guano and sonar and leathery wingflaps, the veiwer is confronted by the realization that the film is not about bats at all but about the fragility of man, the damning circumstances of the human condition.
posted by cortex at 8:52 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've watched a lot of movies, some good, some bad, some utterly terrible. I've literally never walked out of a movie and I've only turned off one movie, and that was Bats, which I saw about 15 minutes of.

You know, I totally understand simply deciding that life is too short to waste time with something not working out. I don't think I've ever stopped watching a movie because I didn't like it, but I did consider doing so with "Brick." And my decision to stop watching it would have been perfectly justified-- everything I didn't like about it in the first half hour was exactly what I didn't like about it for the rest of the film.

Watching part of a movie is not like looking at only 'the bottom-left 3" square' of a painting. It's like recognizing that you don't like still lifes and moving on to another painting you're more interested in rather than focusing on it in detail. In fact, I don't really think you can really begin to appreciate art until you're willing to expose yourself to a lot of different opportunities and make sure to triage the ones that you don't want to waste time on so that you can invest in what you do want. I know, from experience, that I'm not going to like Terence Malick movies, so I move on, allowing me to spend time on things that actually satisfy me. If we're going to engage in artistic one-upmanship, I think that actually makes me more sophisticated that the person who forces himself to sit through things that he doesn't like and try to come up with reasons I should enjoy it (the above-mentioned "rapturous" and "visual feast" being the red flags).
posted by deanc at 8:57 AM on July 1, 2011


I 'ding' television all the time. I usually can tell after watching the first 20 minutes whether or not I want to invest any more time in a television series. I gave up on The Killing this way. If I'm bored with a movie on cable, I'll turn it off and do something else. Somehow, when I've paid admission, I'm more invested, so Timecop is the only movie I ever actually walked out on.
posted by crunchland at 9:13 AM on July 1, 2011


Maybe it's an experimental film where the experiment failed.


Unfortunately the Snobby Taste Everything-is-Subjective Arms Race has led us to a world in which people accept that the experiment itself is enough. It happens a LOT with music nerds online too.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:31 AM on July 1, 2011


I know, from experience, that I'm not going to like Terence Malick movies, so I move on, allowing me to spend time on things that actually satisfy me.

And you didn't go see the movie or walk out partway through. So my post was pretty clearly not addressing you, no? I would bet you know you're not going to like Terence Malick movies because you've seen some other one all the way through. You decided you don't like [painter's] still lifes because you've seen some other still lifes by painter, or some still lifes by a similar painter - not the same as deciding it based on just part of the picture.

See also the Game of Thrones threads where people who'd only seen the first two episodes decided it was stereotypical fantasy and therefore they didn't give a fuck. You don't actually know how wrong you are until you get to, oh, episode 9 or so. I find this whole thread an interesting contrast from all the recent anti-spoiler threads, actually - people going from stressing the importance of the big twist at the end and how they need to know absolutely nothing about anything in order to have the proper enjoyment of it, to turning around and declaring that everything there is to know about a film, or a filmmaker, is obvious from the first fifteen minutes of any movie. Sometimes it just feels like everyone's looking for excuses to not like anything.

I don't remember the end of American Psycho 2 but I also don't remember if we explicitly turned it off, or just stopped paying much attention (or I just repressed the whole memory?) So possibly there's a second movie I didn't finish. The only memorable part of that was realizing that it was nothing like American Psycho -- bottom left 3" was enough to tell me it wasn't like that other painting, at all. If you want to argue that these people went into Tree of Life genuinely expecting it to be like Transformers 3, and that 15 minutes was all they needed to realize otherwise, well...okay, I guess. I'm not sure that's what was happening there.
posted by mstokes650 at 10:01 AM on July 1, 2011


Oh, yeah, you missed out. In the second half of the film the director really established his thesis statement. You should have stuck with it; changed my life.

In my defense, it was at a party, and it was high school so we couldn't drink. We turned it off and put on some music or something instead.

Centuries from now it'll stand out as one of those quirks of fate, like "...if only Hitler had been accepted to art school" -- the historians will shake their heads and say "...if only he'd watched Bats all the way through."
posted by mstokes650 at 10:02 AM on July 1, 2011


We're in an era where people can download films in minutes at home. Films in high definition, 6 months before their cinematic release. Whether people sit in or walk out of a big building where a film is being played is of zero relevance to anything.

Yeah, but the 95% of the public who don't pirate unreleased films do matter.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:05 AM on July 1, 2011


The most walkouts I ever personally saw was in Through a Mirror Darkly. When I walked in, I was one of the younger people in the audience. When the movie ended, I was one of the oldest. I'll grant that the rotoscoping took some getting used to, but I suspect that the way the film only makes sense if you get drug culture may also have had an effect.

Funnier still, though, was One Hour Photo. I suspect a lot of people there were expecting a standard Robin Williams feature and... it just wasn't. I didn't see if there were a lot of walkouts, but the expressions on people's faces as the credits rolled were hilarious.

It sounds like I wouldn't like Tree of Life, though. That sort of movie tends to distract me by saying "Look at me! I'm so DEEP!" and the pretentiousness turns me right off. That has more to do with how I experience media than the media itself though, I guess. (It can't be worse than the latter Matrix movies which were all "Look at me! I took one unit of an Intro to Philosophy class once and nobody has ever had these thoughts before!")
posted by Karmakaze at 10:23 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just don't see what's adult about eating a bowl of shit and then sneering at people who quit the dish halfway through. If you hate a movie and you've put an hour into it, cut your losses and go grab an ice cream cone. (The last movie I walked out of was Flags of Our Fathers, because I found it terminally boring).
posted by Bookhouse at 10:47 AM on July 1, 2011


Haven't seen it yet. Need to, though.
posted by doctornemo at 10:51 AM on July 1, 2011


*sigh* The key point that so many people missed with Bats is that exactly one of the bats in every frame is an actual live bat, while every other bat is either a rubber replica of the original live bat or a CGI copy of the rubber replica. In this light, then, the entire movie becomes a meta commentary on Roland Barthes's The Death of the Author through a sly deconstruction of Thomas Nagel's, What Is it Like to Be a Bat?. In Bats, then, with the death of the author made literal, the viewer is left to reconstruct their own ontology of authenticity via qualia, as vertiginous a mental exercise as might be expected from parsing a replica swarm in real time. Note that in key scenes introducing the replica swarms, a highway road sign is prominently displayed welcoming the viewer to Derrida County. The final play on authenticity is that key scenes are shot outside of Foucault's Deli, which is actually nothing more than a glorified gas station food mart. In the world of Bats, then, even Foucault is left serving up nothing more than mass-produced copies of arguably tasteless originals. It's quite literally rubber batshit insane all the way down.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:51 AM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


The most walkouts I ever personally saw was in Through a Mirror Darkly. --- Do you mean A Scanner Darkly? I remember seeing that with some friends, close enough to opening night that we got promotional movie posters as a give-away, and I don't remember anyone walking out. Waking Life, on the other hand, was almost impossible to watch.
posted by crunchland at 11:32 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh man, Waking Life was like listening to a college freshman back home for the summer after taking PHIL 101.
posted by proj at 11:36 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't care if the film is footage of Malick taking a shit. I'll watch it from beginning to end, and probably rewatch it.

SRSLY, though. Is anyone really expecting a film by Malick, however hyped and sold by the studio, to be easy popcorn viewing?

Dear Average Movie-going Public: you are cordially invited to suck it up. Do your research and stay away, or learn about extending your comfort level a little. Sometimes difficult things are worth the time you put into them.
posted by clvrmnky at 11:43 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course, other times difficult things aren't worth the time you put into them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:51 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't care if the film is footage of Malick taking a shit. I'll watch it from beginning to end, and probably rewatch it.

So, why should the fact that you will apparently sit through anything have any bearing on what anyone else is willing to sit through?

Would you watch it from beginning to end and probably rewatch it if it was Paul Blart: Mall Cop but had Malick's name on the opening credit?
posted by The World Famous at 11:52 AM on July 1, 2011


I don't care if the film is footage of Malick taking a shit. I'll watch it from beginning to end, and probably rewatch it.

Some might say that this is a sign of either not considering your time to be particularly valuable or not having matured enough to the point where you are aware of your own likes and dislikes enough to make firm decisions.

There's a difference between plot twists that turn a movie into something you didn't expect ("What Lies Beneath" starts out seeming like a crime thriller but... is different) and realizing that you simply don't like the movie's "shtick" and are bored/annoyed by the whole thing.

The thing about The Thin Red Line, for example, is that I did stick through the whole thing, and it didn't have any payoff beyond what I already got from up about an hour in. Seeing it through to end conveyed no additional benefit, beyond the feeling of "accomplishment" I get from sticking it out when I finish a movie or a book.
posted by deanc at 11:56 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you mean A Scanner Darkly? I remember seeing that with some friends, close enough to opening night that we got promotional movie posters as a give-away, and I don't remember anyone walking out.
Yeah I did -- sorry. I think it had a lot to do with the theater I was in. Most of the audience there were seeing whatever that week's blockbuster wasn't, which tended to be along the lines of a documentary or imported British films. (Though it is also the only theater in the area showing Tree of Life, so art films, too.) I think the drug culture stuff was just a poor match for that particular community.
posted by Karmakaze at 12:03 PM on July 1, 2011


Yeah, I couldn't make it to the end of Waking Life either. Great idea. Boring as fuck in execution.
posted by serazin at 12:03 PM on July 1, 2011


Waking Life was deliberately titled to highlight what the viewer would be missing by sleeping through the film. Thus, by "watching" Waking Life, one is forced to reject actual waking life. Which, upon consideration, provides a revelation akin to awakening. Everybody do The Neo, say "Woh!"

Woh!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:29 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course it's elitist to take the leap from someone walking out to believing they should be watching transformers 2. But those people are in the majority. I don't feel sorry for them. I would never push someone to see tree of life, and when someone tells me I should see transformers 2, I just tell them it's not my thing. But I promise you if I mention I loved tree of life I'll hear a 5 min rant about how much it sucked continually for the rest of my life.

Tree of Life is a particularly difficult movie to like because many of the community that usually likes this sort of movie hates it also. I've heard of lot of Senor Cardgage type opinions along the line that here's 4 paragraphs why the movie sucked, "but if you enjoyed it, great! Can I tell you again how much tree of life sucked?" Which when you think about it, is about as elitist and condescending as any opinion in this thread.

I didn't think the movie was perfect. I thought the ending was rushed and unfinished and a little too easy. At time there didn't seem to be much cohesion, but that might have been by choice. But I'm happy I saw it and I'd like to see it again. I felt challenged, and entertained, and I've thought about the movie quite a bit since I left the theatre. That's enough for me. It sucks that it took a month to get to my little town, and I'm thankful for the one theatre out of 5 that decided to show it.

All joking aside, this really is the kind of movie that I would only watch on Blue Ray in my own home.

It wouldn't be the same. Seriously, it seems every friend I have takes the time to tell me they don't go to movies any more. They've got this awesome home theatre with surround sound that's just as good. And honestly, it's not. Yes, a home theatre might be as good, or even better, for watching the hangover part 5, but unless you've spend serious big bucks, it's not going to be the same experience in watching tree of life.

I agree, however, that it sucks to watch movies that are immersive with people talking and shuffling. That's why I normally only go to the movies on a weekday, late, 3 weeks after the movie has opened. I saw tree of life with about 6 other people. Hardly noticed they were there, no one walked out.
posted by justgary at 12:50 PM on July 1, 2011


Listen, you call a movie "The Tree of Life," and I am going to expect 150 minutes of Qabalistic exegesis. No more, no less.
posted by malocchio at 1:15 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tree of Life is a particularly difficult movie to like

This seems like a self-esteem-preserving euphemism-- ie, instead of saying a movie is "bad", say it is a "difficult movie to like."
posted by deanc at 1:29 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Which when you think about it, is about as elitist and condescending as any opinion in this thread.

Well of course what you said is true. I mean, you bothered to type it out and post it and everything.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:30 PM on July 1, 2011


I used to feel that way about theaters, justgary, but now I am an old man. Bigger screens aren't necessarily better for me, because my transition trifocal lenses don't really allow me a field of vision great enough to appreciate the difference between sitting close to my 52-inch HDTV vs. sitting far enough away from a movie screen to take it all in without whipping my head around on my old, creaky neck like a spastic terrier. Likewise, although movie theater sound systems definitely have a greater range, volume, and fidelity than my home surround system, that's not necessarily a plus for my old, sensitive ears, either, because movie theaters seem to opperate on the assumption that if the bass doesn't actually cause your molecules to vibrate, then you clearly deserve the hose again. My surround system doesn't have the quality of the movie theater system, but it does come with one feature that makes it vastly superior: a personal volume control.

Additionally, my home theater has several special features that the theaters do not, such as fully adjustable reclining leather seats, a fully stocked bar, and a pause button for when the fully stocked bar calls to me or requires that I visit the restroom, which I seem to need to do with increasing frequency, these days. And in all honesty, for movies like we are discussing here, I often find myself replaying small bits that I might feel require a second look to fully appreciate. It's a personalized experience that you just can't get in a theater.

And I'm not social enough to feel any loss at the lack of human connection. I rather treasure it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:08 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everybody do The Neo, say "Woh!"

Now that is a spelling of "whoa" I have never come across.
posted by adamdschneider at 4:16 PM on July 1, 2011


Many, many years ago, I watched an elderly couple get huffy and publicly walk out of a theatre. The film? Caligula. Can't say as I blame them, but geez, gramma and grampa, had you read the entertainment section of the paper any time in the last month? No less an authority than Roger Ebert himself had walked out on it, I think probably everyone else in the sparse audience was there to rubberneck at an accident.
posted by gimonca at 11:23 PM on June 30


Heh. I know this couple. Unbelievably, they made it most of the way through Sammy and Rosie Get Laid - they made it exactly to the point where {SPOILER ALERT} SAMMY AND ROSIE GET LAID - and THEN decided to walk out in a huff.

To this day, I remain mystified just what movie gramma and grandpa thought they were going to see when they bought their tickets to a movie CALLED Sammy and Rosie Get Laid.

People are funny.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 5:50 PM on July 1, 2011


Judging by the people who walked out at my showing, they had no idea what they were getting into. I know this because they were talking using their outside voices, and said things like "Who picked this movie?" and "What else is playing at the theater?" and [crack] "Dude, pass me that beer." I really don't care if you walk out of a film. It's actually kind of exciting when 1/4 of the theatre leaves, because it makes you realize how different the thing you're watching really is. But try to shut the fuck up while you're doing it.
posted by one_bean at 6:52 PM on July 1, 2011


I just don't see what's adult about eating a bowl of shit and then sneering at people who quit the dish halfway through. If you hate a movie and you've put an hour into it, cut your losses and go grab an ice cream cone. (The last movie I walked out of was Flags of Our Fathers, because I found it terminally boring).

You can just decide that you don't personally like the film. You don't have to defend your opinion by characterizing the rest of the audience as feces-eating snobs.

If people who walk out of films would just do so quietly and discreetly, that'd be fine. The problem is the defensive eyerolling and muttering and heavy sighing and post-movie grousing.
posted by desuetude at 7:15 PM on July 1, 2011


You can just decide that you don't personally like the film. You don't have to defend your opinion by characterizing the rest of the audience as feces-eating snobs.

My comment was a response to people saying that someone walking out of a movie that they personally hated was immature and unsophisticated. I find this opinion to be silly as eating a bowl of something disgusting. If you like a film then it isn't a bowl of shit to you and therefore it's not really what I'm talking about. Obviously I don't think people should walk out of a film they enjoy.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:22 PM on July 1, 2011


If we can somehow turn the discussion toward the question of people walking out during the shit-eating scene from Pink Flamingos, the universe may explode.
posted by cortex at 7:46 PM on July 1, 2011


would hitting stop button constitute a minor galactic event, say a white dwarf during the scene were they take Holofrenes to the basement?
posted by clavdivs at 8:03 PM on July 1, 2011


If we can somehow turn the discussion toward the question of people walking out during the shit-eating scene from Pink Flamingos, the universe may explode.

Of course people walked out after that. It was after the credits.

The scene with the song Surfin' Bird is another story all together.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:08 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


If we can somehow turn the discussion toward the question of people walking out during the shit-eating scene from Pink Flamingos, the universe may explode.

That was a Copra film, right?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:37 PM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've seen several people on this thread post about how The New World was by comparison a tighter film.

I saw the original director's cut of The New World at the Arclight in LA. We were told we were the only theatrical audience who would ever get to see it.

I haven't seen Tree of Life yet so I may eat my words, but the director's cut of The New World, which was much longer than the theatrical release, was very meandering and didn't really have a throughline. It was hallucinogenic - not in the sense of visual hallucinations, but in the sense that the events seemed disconnected and many of the scenes felt isolated from each other, with pretty, somewhat dreamy visuals interspersed in between that didn't really show you how you got from narrative point A to narrative point B. I don't regret that I saw it, but man, that was a long one and I'm not sure I could sit through it twice.
posted by rednikki at 11:30 AM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, why should the fact that you will apparently sit through anything have any bearing on what anyone else is willing to sit through?
Is that the "facts" you arrived at? Nice missing logic there. Remind me to ask you how the fuck you got from "I like Malick" to "will watch anything"? Because if you equate one with the other, you are just the same sort of bullshit film elitist who confuses opinion with fact this entire thread is wringing its hands over.

And, you know what? My opinion is actually worth a bit more than some, because I have an extensive and reasonably complete understanding of the vocabulary and history of film. I like genre films that satisfy or challenge the genre, and I like auteur films that are their own thing. And I have the experience and knowledge to back up my defences of so-called bad films.
Would you watch it from beginning to end and probably rewatch it if it was Paul Blart: Mall Cop but had Malick's name on the opening credit?
I don't fucking know. Maybe? I don't see movies, and have not seen this one. But, on the strength of Malick's previous offerings (and the choices are few) I very well might. How is this wrong? What difference does it make.

My point remains: few movies are worth walking out of, and if you are so put off by this film then you were unprepared and possibly missing the entire point of cinema. I'm not saying you have to like some arbitrary film. I am saying if a film by an auteur puts you off so much the fault (as it were) lies at least partly with the viewer.

Like opera, you probably shouldn't go to some films without being adequately prepared. Reviewers will tell you if the film is hard to watch.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:13 PM on July 2, 2011


My opinion is actually worth a bit more than some, because I have an extensive and reasonably complete understanding of the vocabulary and history of film.

Yes, yes, more than we can possibly imagine, etc.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:18 PM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Confused Italians...
posted by chavenet at 11:04 AM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


All joking aside, this really is the kind of movie that I would only watch on Blue Ray in my own home. I have a hard enough time putting up with other theater goers with movies that are purely for the thrills. The distraction of trying to soak up the atmosphere of this type of film while people around me are shuffling and muttering in boredom and frustration - and then filing out mid-film - would absolutely ruin any chance I'd have at immersing myself in the experience.

IRFH, that is the virtue of The Tree of Life: because its audiences are small and devoted, there is none of the usual nonsense (at least not when I saw it). The Varsity 1, a week ago today, had maybe twenty people in its 215 seats. No walk-outs.

I myself found it a little creaky in the final quarter, when the father is away on business and the son is testing his limits with the mother. Of course, no one goes to a Malick movie for zippy narrative thrust, but I thought we were wandering for most of a reel there with no advancement. Gorgeous, though.

And my local arthouse cinema is showing it as well, and has a sign in the box office clearly plagiarized from the one that fairmettle posted above.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:24 AM on July 20, 2011


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