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Movie Review: Tree of Life

Alternate Title: Zen and the Art of Making Movies

Story: Growing up is hard to do - at least it is for Jack, a child of the '50's from Waco, Texas. Jack is having a heck of a time figuring out what life is all about and how to reconcile the strained relationship with his father. Present day Jack seems lost in the modern world and the larger questions of the meaning of life, love and faith loom large. That section of the film takes about an hour or so. The balance of the film is the head scratching, eyebrow raising part.

Writer, director and I will add, visionary, Terrence Malick has created a film that will have some people uncomfortable at not 'getting' every frame. This film requires patience and an acceptance of the sensational visuals and symbols thrown at us. And Mr. Malick does throw everything at us. I think I even saw a kitchen sink circling in scenes of the cosmos.

I am not really sure why we had to watch 18 minutes of the creation of the cosmos, but it was truly beautiful. You will recognize images similar to the stunning Hubble photos along with sensational texture, color, sound and music. Yes, I get the idea that we are but a blip in the scheme of things - but dinosaurs?

There was a short period where I got annoyed when dialogue interfered with the beauty on the screen and then I remembered that I was watching a movie - where plot and dialogue are essential.

Your level of enjoyment watching this film will depend on whether you are able to simply sit back and allow this visually astonishing film to wash over you without explanation or if you are the type of person who needs a tidy, simple explanation of the goings on in front of you. If you are the latter type - best to stay at home.

What's it all about, Alfie?

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXRYA1dxP_0

Acting: Brad Pitt as Mr. O’Brien does some fine jaw clenching work. Sean Penn as the older Jack was a head scratcher. Not sure why this character needed to be played by larger than life, Sean Penn. Jessica Chastain as Mrs. O’Brien was lovely. Hunter McCracken as Young Jack was sensational. Laramie Eppler (R. L.) and Tye Sheridan (Steve) were fine as well.

Predilection: None

Trivia: Terrence Malick's trade marks include: narration by one or more characters. He often includes nature as a major element in his films and most of his films are shot entirely outside. He went to St. Stephen's high school in Austin, Texas and went to Harvard. He was a Rhodes Scholar. Jessica Chastain is the daughter of actor/director/'Happy Days' Ron Howard.

Critters: All manner of creature and critter from dinosaur to axolotl.

Food: A definite meat and potato movie.

Sex Spectrum: None

Soundtrack: Music by Alexandre Desplat is more than lovely.

Opening Titles: All titles are at the end.

Visual Art: Director of photography, Emmanuel Lubezki did a terrific job.

Theater Audience: About 40 people on the afternoon of July 4th.

Weather: Not a factor.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 2 - I did not like when the kids sent a frog up into space attached to a rocket.

Drift Factor: I looked at my watch a few times.

Predictability Level: Had no idea where this film was headed.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Perhaps. It won this year's Palme d'Or at Cannes.

Big Screen or Rental: This is a big screen must. The cosmos needs to be viewed on a large screen.

Length: Long at 2 hours and 18 minutes.

LOBO HOWLS: 8