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Thompson on Hollywood

In The Tree of Life, Malick's Experimentation Gets Under the Skin

With the debate about its Oscar chances heating up and the film now available on DVD and Blu-ray, Matt Brennan’s “Now and Then” column this week revisits Terrence Malick’s Palme d’Or-winning The Tree of Life. The Tree of Life marks director Terrence Malick’s fifth feature in the 38 years since his debut, Badlands. It’s an output that might seem thin at first glance: Woody Allen, in the same period, directed 40 (!) films, some of which (Annie Hall, Husbands and Wives) deserve to be saddled with the word “classic.” But Mailck’s genius — and, watching The Tree of Life again, I think that’s a fair word to use — can’t be seen in traditional terms. Owing more to the 1920s “cinépoems” of Man Ray, Fernand Léger, and Joris Ivens than to Hollywood narrative films, The Tree of Life, whatever failings it may have, reconfirms just how beautiful and emotionally compelling experimental filmmaking can be.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • October 17, 2011 6:46 AM
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Adventures of Tintin Early Reviews are Mixed: Delightful, Dazzling, CG Wizardry, Vidgame Action

Despite his stellar review, TOH! London critic Matt Mueller says there are a few drawbacks to Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. An "almost bombastically annoying" John Williams score, for one, creepy close-ups of Tintin are thankfully few, and a "ridiculously frantic and breathless pace" join what some other critics aren't so impressed with. But there are many fans, which should help Tintin reel in an impressive global box office (October 26 overseas, December 21 in the US).
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • October 17, 2011 6:34 AM
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  • 1 Comment

My Week in New York: Hugo, War Horse, Turin Horse, Parties, Marilyn, Book of Mormon

Monday night's mystery screening of Martin Scorsese's work-in-progress 3-D Hugo (featurette below) marks my last screening at this year's New York Film Festival. The reason that the movie was shown without completed effects or a final score (by Howard Shore) is that it's a cinephile's dream, and the NYFF audience couldn't have been a more receptive crowd. While the movie should work with families over the Thanksgiving holiday, and producer Graham King (nervously pacing in the rear of the theater as ushers passed out 3-D glasses) assured me that they wouldn't have shown the film if the movie wasn't going to finish on time, Paramount wanted to build buzz for the film via the festival and this was the only way to do it.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 11, 2011 4:22 AM
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In the Works: Returning to Kurelek's Maze

Bob Young and his two sons were lured into making successive films about The Maze artist William Kurelek, reports Bill Desowitz:It's easy to get sucked into The Maze, the surreal and nightmarish Bosch-like painting that Canadian artist William Kurelek (1927-1977) created as a mental patient in England in 1953. Comprised of 17 panels, it's a naked glimpse into his troubled mind. The Maze is so powerful and dynamic, in fact, that it ensnares you more like a movie or graphic novel than a painting. No wonder award-winning director Bob Young (The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, The Eskimo: Fight for Life) was inspired to document Kurelek's complex life with partner David Grubin for an educational short back in 1969, which has since become a hallmark of art therapy. And no wonder Young's two sons, Nick and Zack (of LA rock band, A.i.), were seduced into restoring the lost footage they recently recovered and making a much fuller work of their own via digital technology.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • September 30, 2011 8:29 AM
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Geeking Out with Cameron at the 3D Summit: Titanic, Avatar, Theme Parks

This week, in his Immersed in Movies column, Bill Desowitz talks to James Cameron at the 3D Summit. Don't try to convince James Cameron that 3-D is faltering. He's still a true believer, despite some recent 3-D blowback. He laughed if off as growing pains and negative media spin at the 3D Entertainment Summit this week at the Hollywood & Highland Center, but said it's nothing that can't be fixed with a change of perception and better 3-D authoring and presentation.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • September 23, 2011 5:14 AM
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Visual Effects Society Issues Bill of Rights to Combat Downward Spiral

Despite the fact that VFX and animated films rule the box office every year, the Visual Effects Society, representing 2,400 members in 23 countries, wants to foster change related to deteriorating quality of life issues for individuals, while leveling the playing field for facilities.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • September 22, 2011 5:11 AM
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Weekly Wrap: TIFF: Moneyball, Descendants, Deep Blue Sea; Reviews Kevin, The Lady; Media Watch

Box Office:
  • By Maggie Lange
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  • September 16, 2011 5:20 AM
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Fall/Holiday Preview: Five Glorious VFX Films to Watch, None Set in Present

Bill Desowitz lists five VFX films to watch this fall and winter season, and the reasons why:With all due respect to the highly-anticipated The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-- Part 1 and Mission: Impossible-- Ghost Protocol, in which Edward and Bella and Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt spiritually go to hell and back, the real VFXy films to look out for this fall/holiday season are Hugo, Real Steel, Immortals, Anonymous, and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. They possess the necessary CG eye candy and potential Oscar prestige, plus there's not a contemporary story among them.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • September 16, 2011 2:04 AM
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Another Trip to the Moon with Méliès: Behind the Digital Restoration of VFX Landmark

While waiting for Hugo (Nov. 23), Martin Scorsese's 3-D valentine to Georges Méliès, TOH columnist Bill Desowitz writes a fascinating account of how digital advances made possible the painstaking restoration of the first movie blockbuster from the father of special effects, A Trip to the Moon (1902). The new version of the landmark 14-minute short, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, will screen at Telluride this weekend and at the Academy's Goldwyn Theater on Tuesday. What a way to mark the 150th anniversary of Méliès's birth.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • September 2, 2011 3:35 AM
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D23 Expo Adds Two New Pixar Pics on Dinosaurs and the Inner Mind, Promos John Carter, The Avengers

The warmth in the Anaheim Convention Center Hall at D23 for Pixar and Disney animation czar John Lasseter was expressed, loudly, with a standing ovation. Also getting one was Billy Crystal (make him Oscar host already!), who's back with John Goodman in Disney/Pixar sequel Monsters University (2013). Borrowing a few pages from Comic-Con, Disney is using its direct relationship with fans and marketing synergy to promote its characters and products at its huge three-day D23. Not getting as warm a welcome as Lasseter was Disney chairman Rich Ross, who still seemed stiff in front of the teleprompters, even when he cried, "cupcakes for everyone!"
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 21, 2011 1:48 AM
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