“All things shining…”

EW.com, where I spend all my time when I’m not Googling Pippa Middleton pictures, has a clip—er, make that an exclusive (and non-spoilery) clip—from Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, which is set to premiere at Cannes in a couple of weeks. The upside is that it reeks of that “remembered quality” that’s at the heart of Malick’s work. I’ve seen Days of Heaven too many times to actually sit through it again, but I’m still fascinated by its conflation of personal and national memory, and the tendency of both to soften and deemphasize bad experiences in favor of happy, self-flattering ones. The potential downside is, sad to say, the look of the thing, which calls to mind Ben Chaplin’s perfume-ad flashbacks in The Thin Red Line, with another Eternal Feminine archetype whirling around in a thin cotton dress and—hey, suddenly I feel like losing a memory. I also wish Malick would just one time cast a normal looking guy-dude in a starring role. Outside of Sheen in Badlands, where someone with a claim on James Dean’s looks was called for by the story, his male stars always seem picked (and then filmed) with too wide an eye for their prettiness. I’m not saying Terrence Malick is gay or anything—or maybe I am, who the hell knows?—but when I think of all the actors who could’ve brought to the part of Captain John Smith something more than musky earnestness, well, it’s a kind of a big deal.

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