Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A New World -Director's shorter cut

Terrence Malick's movies are an acquired taste.

By no means is he a conventional storyteller. When people are asked to describe his style the word "Art" always seems to come into the conversation.

It's hard to avoid that word when considering his work, because there's no doubt while watching his films, the images he captures are often times breathlessly beautiful. He depends heavily on imagery, and visuals rather than dialogue to tell most of his stories. Often times audiences are left trying to interpret emotional, inspiring images rather than a clear storyline. To make things even more confusing his characters tend to use poetic voice-over's to articulate the feelings that they themselves are trying to work out, and can't express. Needless to say this can be very frustrating for people who want clear and conventional storylines.

I think often times audiences dismiss his work as pretentious, and overly symbolic. And in all honesty I can see a case being made for that argument. But I don't think Malick's work are those things.

I think more than any other director working today he is TRYING to create art when he makes a film.

He's not content with just telling a story. He wants to make people feel, and think, and respond in a way that's similar to when one looks at a provocative painting in a museum. His movies aren't made for people who want to eat popcorn, and have their sour patch kids, while forgetting about their lives for a few hours during a film. Which are what most films are. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

But that's just not Terrence Malick's style.

It's just a different way of using films as an art form. Which is why he is so admired, and respected in the industry, and also dismissed by some audiences who just want a fun movie.

The story of A New World is the story of the first colony in Virginia. It tells the story of John Smith and the daughter of the Chief of the Indian tribe, Pocahontas, living in newly settled America. The story explores the rivalry/reliance of the the two cultures clashing on American soil for the first time.

To describe this film one need only say that it's uniquely Malick.

To me that's a good thing.

I found the film incredibly cinematic, and artistic in a way no other film has been this year. Clearly one of the top 5 movies of the year.

It's romantic, moving, beautiful to behold, and mesmerizing to watch. I found the Cinematography incredible....simply remarkable, and the musical score inspiring. The story was interesting, and touching, and I found the acting solid and moving.

Especially impressive is Q'Orianka Kilcher in the title role, who runs through a wide variety of emotions, and experiences in a demanding role, and she delivers a moving, remarkable performance, even more impressive when one considers she was 14 years old when they started filming. Collin Farrell bounces back nicely from his shaky work in Alexander and Christian Bale turns in his usual grounded, impressive, always interesting work to round out the cast.

The romantic nature of the movie was especially well executed. It's tricky stuff considering that Bale and Farrell are at least a decade older than Kilcher. But Malick does an impressive job of eliminating a lot of the sexual tension, and making the relationships more about true love, and romance. The idea of connecting on a spirtual level rather than a lustful one.

The opening sequence in particular is mesmerizing, the combination of images, music, sweeping shots, close ups. It's a brillant use of all the cinematic elements.

The action pieces in the film are also well executed. He puts the audience right in the middle of the action. Often times we are seeing the perspective of the different characters in real time. It's really stunning to witness.

I admit the film does, however, feel a little long in some places, but if one trusts Malick, it's worth the ride.

I think if one is looking for an artistically inspiring night out at the movies. This film will fulfill that need....and more.

1 comment:

Melody said...

Hi Ray, it's Melody. I am adding you to my list-o-blog spots. I like your reviews dude.