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54 Responses to “To the Wonder trailers (updated)”
Looks to be part of the Tree of Life project. Can’t wait..
“It’s really odd to think of Bardem and Affleck acting in the same movie”
yes its odd to have that combo of affleck and bardem in one film, but mallicks intention is to create atmospherics and premise that goes above and beyond mere actors and personalities that come with their own baggage!
Mallick seems to try and ‘unhinge’ the characters from the actors and what we expect of that particular actor —sometimes it is also about preventing attentin being diverted from the central theme and back on himself
While there is an element of narcissism, indulgence and even pretentiousness (as some see it), mallicks work usually transcends these lower instincts….
A flurry of boos followed by cheers greeted the end credits at this morning’s critics screening of To the Wonder, Terrence Malick’s sixth film in a 40-year career that began with Badlands and reached an elysian peak of sorts last year with The Tree of Life. Malick movies often stoke reactions of awe and “Huh?” His latest, which has its world premiere Sunday night at the Venice Film Festival, pushes cinematic experiment to a degree not previously attempted by this restless, mysterious auteur — or, really, by anyone else working in narrative film. As Ben Affleck, its putative star, reportedly said after seeing To the Wonder, it “makes The Tree of Life look like Transformers.”
The simple romantic triangle of a man (Affleck), his Ukrainian wife (Olga Kurylenko) and the American girl he left behind (Rachel McAdams) becomes the theme for a modernist symphonic variation of enigmatic figures and pristine nature as captured by Emmanuel Lubezki’s ever-gliding Steadicam. This could be the most formally radical post-narrative American film ever to be released — if it ever gets released. To the Wonder plays next week at the Toronto Film Festival, but so far it has no U.S. distributor. And Malick, the most famous recluse in movies, was not likely to be explaining his film here on the Lido. A poster affixed to one of the buses that takes cinephiles to the Festival area showed a photo of Malick and, in Italian, the question “Have you seen this man”.
“Newborn. I open my eyes. I melt into the eternal night.” The film’s opening words, intoned by Korlenko’s Marina, hint at the commitment Malick insists viewers bring to his work. Go with the flow of images; trust your senses to intuit, from the music of the pictures, meanings that other movies spell out in dialogue. Malick wants to transport you from a multiplex auditorium to the cathedral of nature; To the Wonder, like all his films but especially The Tree of Life, is a ramble through the ecstasies of the natural world as experienced or ignored by little people on a giant, gorgeous planet.
On the rocky Normandy island of Mont Saint-Michel (where Michael Bay, director of the Transformers films, shot part of Armageddon), Marina and her lover revel in the physical and spiritual intensity of their affair. They tread the shoreline, where the silt has the strange consistency of a giant Baggie, and climb steps to the island’s peak — “to the Wonder.” Marina proclaims herself “forever at peace”; the movie will document that forever is a perishable commodity.
Affleck’s character, unnamed in the film but called Neil in the press notes, has fallen in love with Marina and, hardly less, her charming, 10-year-old daughter Tatiana (Tatiana Chahine), the child of a Frenchman who abandoned them years before. After their Paris rapture, Neil takes Marina and Tatiana to his home in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where he gets a job as an environmental inspector. The townsfolk are dependent on the oil industry, whose product is seeping upward, threatening crops and homes. As a toothless local says, “Sometimes we see tar comin’ out the cracks in the patio.”
The residue of Neil’s earlier life, along with Marina’s and Tatiana’s feeling of foreignness in a land so different from the one they knew, is creating cracks in their relationship. Tatiana, who speaks little English and can make no friends in Bartlesville, tells Neil that she’s “writing my thoughts” on his forehead; but he’s hiding his own thoughts about interest in his old girl friend Jane (McAdams). Marina, a free spirit who whirls through their house and the wheat fields, and does more dancing here than Michael Jackson does in all of Spike Lee’s Venice feature Bad 25, husbands her secrets from her husband: “I write on water what I dare not say”.
Another displaced person is the town’s Catholic priest, Father Quintana (Javier Bardem), whose vocation and faith are suffering their deepest challenge. He prays to feel “Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ in my heart. Show me how to seek You.” His parishioners have divined his private Calvary; an old woman says, “Father, I’m going to pray for you, so you achieve the gift of joy.” Quintana, the movie suggests, needs to see that God is nature — all around him, in the pained faces of his meager flock.
Malick is known for shooting miles of film improvisations and stitching his stories together with semi-explanatory voiceover narration. The Tree of Life took three years to complete from its 2008 production to its 2011 Cannes Film Festival premiere. To the Wonder, filmed in 2009, employed five editors to achieve the amorphous shape Malick demanded. In the process, the work of several prominent actors, including Rachel Weisz, Amanda Peet, Barry Pepper, Jessica Chastain and Michael Sheen, was excised from the film. It’s said that Malick made three different versions of his 1998 The Thin Red Line: one the release cut, the second a linear narrative and the third wholly impressionistic. With To the Wonder he went with the impressionistic cut, which is fine. But it would be a treat to see, on DVD, the longer version with Weisz, Chastain and the others. Paging the Criterion Collection!
Affleck — who according to the production notes “read works by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and F. Scott Fitzgerald” and “watched movies starring Gary Cooper to shape [his] character” — is still the male lead, but he has few lines of audible dialogue and little evidence of the fruits of all that homework. The only actor Malick lets run free is Kurylenko, the Bond girl in Quantum of Solace; her performance is less an investigation of character than an angelic fashion statement — part Piero della Francesca, part Francesco Scavullo.
The director was raised in Oklahoma and lived for decades in Paris, where he was married to a Frenchwoman; he now lives in Austin, Texas, with his third wife, Alexandra Wallace, an American. (The film credits “Alexandra Malick” as ”Ambassador of Good Will”; perhaps it was her task to inform Weisz, Chastain and the rest that they didn’t make the final cut.) So he may be telling a version of one chapter in his own story. But, as in any Malick movie, the narrative is just one element in a tapestry of sights and sounds — here, music by Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Haydn, Berloiz, Gounod and, for a football fight song, the Bartlesville High School Marching Band. And the autobiographical takes a back seat to
The romance in To the Wonder has its vagrant epiphanies, but it carries less emotional weight than Malick’s choice of faces and vistas; the supporting cast and locations capture the director’s eye and hold the viewer’s. An old black man with a wispy beard whispers a few words to Father Quintana and stirs questions of his own dramatic life in the minds of receptive spectators. An ailing woman, literally wasting away, kidnaps our attention by briefly itemizing her infirmities while clutching his infant child. Malick, the cinema’s great naturalist, nearly outdoes himself with magnificent images of sunsets in France and the American South, in a film whose true subject is visual splendor at the level of rapture.
At 112 minutes Malick’s shortest picture since the 1978 Days of Heaven, To the Wonder could also be called the longest experimental art film ever. This is a test, requiring rapt concentration and acute attention, and repaying a hundredfold. For spectators dulled by the midget movies of an arrtstically timid era, the film may be a chore. For those on Malick’s rarified wavelength, it’s a wonder.
“Can’t wait!”– ha
Satyam-” can’t wait” for Rachel or olga or the film?
Jokes apart–looking forward to your views…
That’s the thing bout Satyam-he can switch genres just like time travel and senses a ‘significant ‘ film adeptly
Hope u don’t get caught up with the ‘red bikini’ in this one 🙂
“Extraordinary trailer. Might even be better than the first one. And again this work really seems to complement Tree of Life.”
totally agree satyam–cant add more
will have to view this again
apt use of the visual cinematic medium in a ‘beautiful’ sense (not the perverse one)
Actually, i had decided to take a short break from ‘spoofs’ due to other work committments but then this trailer has made me think..
perhaps needs something on a mini scale just as a ‘tribute’ to Mallick
This ones not for box office but in an ‘indie’ setup…
will check this trailer again on my big screen telly and then will have to opine on the casting lol…lemme see
And although the ‘budgets’ are less and hence the box office returns arent a big issue here–none of mallicks films are low in amibtion or stature—to get an idea, look at the names whose roles got delted after shoot (and who darent didnt whimper!!)
there are some films where box office doesnt matter–only v few –this is one of them!
“To the Wonder, filmed in 2009, employed five editors to achieve the amorphous shape Malick demanded. In the process, the work of several prominent actors, including Rachel Weisz, Amanda Peet, Barry Pepper, Jessica Chastain and Michael Sheen, was excised from the film. ”
ok folks, just had a look on a projector. This one needs the A-team and the complete works! Remember, the likes of chastain, sheen, Weisz just got erased in this one after shooting !
But hey, its not about ‘ego’ or ‘acting’ here
its about ‘aptness’ and not ‘distracting” from the overall theme.
So lets get down to the drawing board…
As u know, my spoofs and Mallicks films in particular are ‘demanding’ mentally (& moreso physically). Also one person sometimes cant do complete ‘justice’. Hence standbys needed here..
The role thats pivotal here and that NEEDS acting skills etc–
This needs the works and my choice here would be–
Satyam &/or Utkal Mohanty (uncle) –in tandem.!!
well, I think this needs less of acting skills and more of ‘feel’ and ‘appeal’ —
Probables here—my buddy Tatiana Savick (and thanx tatiana for those lovely links u send me–this is my way of saying thanx)
Also in the mix–
Margaret Ann –who may have to pitch in this /other role(s)-lets see
surprisingly she has been the scene stealer in these rushes-shes not only stood upto but somewhat overshadowed others in this brief trailer–casting will be a difficult choice–but shall observe/assess–anyhow her role starts a bit later
Will have to make the best of the talent pool available.. Watch the space
ps–can someone tell me what dafuk that ‘animal’ is that around 1.18 🙂
I envy you! But you make a very interesting point on the ‘human nature’ but. Something ‘different’ came about in Tree of Life. So even as the human perspective was always crucial in the earlier films it was balanced out by a rather ‘independent’ sense of nature. This led to quasi-mystical moments at points but the larger gesture had a certain value. In Tree of Life however there’s a fascinating split whereby on the one hand subjectivity seems more privileged than before but on the other hand objectivity too achieves its greatest force. Many moments then suggest an older Malick, a director who’s perhaps not too far from the Tarkovsky view of the world (Zizek has often talked about this), where a certain spirituality is posited by immersing oneself into material reality (there is a very sensuous quality to the objective world outside the house when the boys are seen playing and so on). But again there are also those ‘creation’ sequences that stage a world pre-dating the advent of the human. These moments have always intrigued me greatly for a number of reasons. What is entailed when a world in which the human in any sense had not yet arrived is filmed and represented? An activity then that is totally dependent on a human already being able to represent such a world. Don’t mean to get too far afield here but in Meillassoux’s philosophy this ‘ancestral’ question is a central one. And it seems to me that Malick (himself a translator of Heidegger in addition to having a strong philosophy background even otherwise) offers an interesting riff on this. But getting back to the more immediate discussion a certain objectivity returns in its strongest form with these scenes (the dinosaur ‘event’ et al). And so here I’d argue against you. On my reading the ‘world’ emerges even more potently in Tree of Life or it is a world that cannot be completely defined by the human perspective. And on this note I did see a glimpse of the bisons in the trailer and it really seemed important vis-a-vis everything I’ve tried to argue for here.
oh ok thanx mandoo and satyam for educating me–
yep is that ‘animal’ around 1.18 a ‘bison’–i see…
i was busy checking out olga/ rachel and couldnt concentrate
thought they looked likea cross between an elepahnt and god knows what—urggh just imagining that union is gross
reminds of satyams ‘reechha’ post –wheres the link for that 🙂
I will try to answer (sorry, English isn’t my mother tongue…)
Something really change for me with Tree of Life: it was a huge opera, mystical, and most of all a dialogue between a creator (Malick) and Creation/Nature/God. I had the feeling that he was looking for his own well of creation to explain the world/life, and the well of God.
In between, the spectator was just petrified. It was really different of the contemplation of Nature in Thin red Line, just a big thanks of all this to exist.
Here, with To The Wonder (and what is that wonder ? it’s one of the name of the church of Mont St Michel that the couple visit during the beginning of their love) we find again a “human perspective”. But, this is to look at the distress of people once the Love disappear without any reason: the love of a man or the love of God (Bardem looking for his lost faith).
What makes me sad, is that Malick shoot really fast this film about the distress, as if he couldn’t accomplish his project with Tree of Life…and explain it. He edits again some frames of Tree of Life, but the feeling is different, as poor “perfections lost”.
I am sad because this director (along with Tarkovsky, Duras, Arnold) mades me watch Nature and Human kind as something incredibly organic, wonderful as filmic aesthetics.
And in this last film, I could feel that he still saw Beauty (bisons once again :), Versailles castle, woman body) but find out that Film is not enough to worship it. He films the shell of the Beauty, the shell of human nature, conscious that the spirit he was looking for, event in Tree of Life, is not there
“Something really change for me with Tree of Life: it was a huge opera, mystical, and most of all a dialogue between a creator (Malick) and Creation/Nature/God. I had the feeling that he was looking for his own well of creation to explain the world/life, and the well of God.”
Mandoo–even though English isnt your language (as u say) u got it spot on!!! nothin much to add there
I had a similar feeling on watchign tree of life ..
“He films the shell of the Beauty, the shell of human nature, conscious that the spirit he was looking for”–Wow…
btw mandoo—are u tatiana, just chekcing ? 😉
“ouf, I was quite afraid that we know each other “–
same here 🙂
oops u seem to be taking words from my mouth haha
ps–u have a v good taste ..
ps–how did affleck fare—does he hav anything to do (other than have a good time with those ladies)..?.
“It’s not “having a good” time, he is suffering a lot of the lost of love, lost of faith in love…””wow brilliant Mandoo–now that u tell me, i agree
Thats the best comment of the day!
seems i have a lot to learn from u 🙂
ps:ok who acted better and whom did u find better or more ‘hot’-olga or rachel …
“I must point out that the question of hotness is totally irrelevant, even more in a critic of a Malick film…”
well said mandoo– good comment
you are a true mallick fan 🙂
did u say there is a mallcik films ‘festival’ in france this week
ps–i saw the french film ‘intouchables’ this week–have u seen it
just to add mr/ms mandoo–i was only joking and ‘assessing’ u about the ‘hotness’ of olga/rachel. As u v rightly said, and i totally feel that one has to ‘rise above’ the lesser elements of violence/porn/bikini etc to enter/enjoy the world of mallick…
Refreshing to see someone having the correct perspective!
welcome and will look forward to more posts from u –cheers …
thanx 4 that update mandoo- this wont release in the US till april but i guess u checked it in europe?
“Incredible cinematography, but I miss the joy and the belief in human nature of his previous movies. He seems less an less enthralled by the World…”-well said
I suspect this wont be as ‘strong’ a work than the predecessor mallicks, but still…for all cniematography and ‘visual cinema’ lovers, its a feast nontheless—well, will check out the bisons lol
Who did u think did a better job–olga or rachel
was having a chat and some blokes suggested anne hathway here
Apparently there has been a poll btw the 2–what do u think folks.. http://www.midwestsportsfans.com/2010/11/girl-next-door-rachel-mcadams-or-anne-hathaway-pics/
ps–thats a cute name but mandoo reminds me of something–isnt that korean dood /dumpling –think nyc has a place that does em 🙂
Olga, without a doubt ! (I am pretty sure Rachel was cut a lot during editing, she just has few sequences !).
Olga has something really organic, she is not just beautiful, she is a kind of “filmic pattern”: hair/skin/foot etc.
It’s definitely not a strong work, for me it’s more a counterpoint of Tree of Life. But it’s nice to listen to these “small” stories as well. Bardem is great too.
And i am a freaking “visual aesthetic” lover, so Mallck is the King 🙂
Part of it is set in France, with a French voice over (with an accent), and that was the most disturbing point of the movie for me, as a French… It was really difficult to find the landscapes as “wonderful” as he seems to seen it. I was really afraid of the “Woody-Allen-destroys-Paris -Forever effect”lol
For me it’s a “every day” images, so I was less touched than… the beginning of “The Thin Red Line” for example. Thanks God it works quite well, because of music/cinematography.
ps: yep, korean dumplings, but I realize it long after choosing it 🙂
umm i love dumplings–yeah remember now–mandoo was/is a korean place in nyc and also has similar outlets in other cities
and u desribed olga brilliantly
did u see this in france?
Now mallick can pick up ANY actor/actress and make em go thru the motions—apparently the likes of chastain, weisz, sheen had to go thru lots but didnt figure (at all!) in the final cut!!
i also think rahcle macadams is looking better than she ever has in this promo–the mallick effect!
ps–lol@ ‘woody allen destroys paris forever’
on a sidenote, was just skimming thru Vicky christina Barcelona –just randomly showin on telly–loved allens work there–liked it?
@ mandoo–how will u rate this with ‘tree of life’ or ‘the thin red line’
I personally feel this will be a bit more ’empty’ but the visuals more than make uo 4 it?
Who are your favorite makers/ films btw…some nice choices there
I grind my teeth at Allen’s movie since “Match Point” (but great admirer of the old ones) so I can’t judge VCB 🙂
I am not a fan of McAdams too, but she is not too bad here. Maybe a little too plain/without roughness, and a too “looking good” look for the character. But, again, she doesn’t have a big part in the film.
Yeah, I am in Paris, and for the occasion you can re-watch all the Malick at theatre!! So it’s perfect this week, you can watch all his films!
@ mandoo–u sound like somebody i know lol-jokin
(new name eh)
As for macadams–well, im liking her quite a bit here actually..
Agree aboutthe ‘too looking good’ for her character…
“so I can’t judge VCB “–hehe i think its hard not to like vcb if u r a guy (presuming u are a guy..)
“Sherlock Holmes trying his best to unravel who Mandoo is. Well, maybe old wine in new bottle.”–haha sanju –yeah exactly
Can u help plz–u stay better updated
Ps: hope Mandoo is fine 🙂
Sam juliano–like your name cheers
This is probably Malick’s most affecting film. It’s certainly more intimate than Tree of Wonder though one suspects it’s part of the same autobiographical strand in his recent work. A pitfall in this context is the director’s increasing and perplexing (because not well-grounded) reliance on a very overt kind of religiosity which seems to either be fused with his earlier concerns with transcendence or else works altogether as a replacement for it. This is wholly apart from his New Age concerns which sometimes intersect with all of this and are taken to obscurantist extremes as well. But Tree of Life was a looser, more abstract work that could better incorporate all of these impulses. To The wonder on the other hand is much more focused and actually works beautifully as a symphonic work (in more ways than one) when it is restricted to its central romantic relationships. The whole Church angle then becomes an intrusion much as Bardem’s character too seems quite untethered to the overall narrative.
All this notwithstanding the director’s visuals continue to astound. There is probably no other living director I can think who tries to do as much from frame to frame. Though I am less a fan of his soaring classical music choices that strive toward the same transcendence another way and perhaps make for a more overwrought result than is necessary the approach largely works here. And if the film is rather moving one of the principal reasons is Olga Kurylenko who rather surprisingly turns in a remarkable performance. She’s most keyed into Malick’s word, she is in fact its principal character. Affleck on the other hand is simply lost in this outing. Admittedly his part is a rather underwritten one but he comes off as a cipher more than anything else and not only by design. One could argue that the female leads have run off with both films in this ‘diptych’. Though Pitt was very effective in Tree of Life Jessica Chastain seemed to represent its soul.
This is a film that I loved for about 70-80% of it. But the religious angle really threw a spanner into the rest of the proceedings. But again for its visuals this is still a film to be seen on the big screen. And there isn’t the kind of repetition (visual tropes) I feared here (following on Tree of Life) watching the trailer. Malick has used his geography strikingly well and for all of that older film’s grand cosmic moments I’d take the current film over it as an evocation of a primal past (the Bison scenes for instance). The sensuous/sensual language of the earlier film though continues with this one. As does the Tarkovsky-inspired impulse of trying to obtain the greatest transcendence by sinking to the most abject materialism.
If I had to choose I’d say Tree of Life is the better work but I like To the wonder more, even accounting for some of the features in it that frustrate me.
Yes the Indian DVDs have been out for a while on GoW. However as I indicated elsewhere they’re rather poor, specially on part 1 where many scenes seem too brightly lit (these are official releases). The French Blaq Out release is supposed to be excellent. I have seen some other transfers from them and they were outstanding.
On To the Wonder it’s playing in NY. It might be part of a limited NY/LA release at this point. Not sure.
Many thanx Satyam –this was a film I wanted to see but may have to catch later on DVD …
Anyhow mallicks films have a ‘lasting impact’ & will do without it for now lol
Ben afflecks part was meant to be ‘lost’ & this was a role that required a certain vibe wherein over-expression may have been counterproductive. As I’ve always felt sometimes poor/novice actors suit a part better than acting powerhouses !
“And if the film is rather moving one of the principal reasons is Olga Kurylenko who rather surprisingly turns in a remarkable performance”— now that’s a surprise really –she didn’t have much to do in oblivion (other than piggy-backing on the motorcycle!)– the reason maybe that her ‘appeal’ matches mallicks cinematography driven world!
Having said that Rachel mcadams has rarely looked better!
Ps: loved the ‘bison’ scene in the promo ( as i was rightly educated by tata/ Mandoo!) lol
Ps2: this film should have used Jessica chastain as well…