Monday, August 22, 2011

Quote of the Day, Jr.

"I didn't at all find on the screen the emotion of the script, which is the most magnificent one that I've ever read. A clearer and more conventional narrative would have helped the film without, in my opinion, lessening its beauty and its impact. Frankly, I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing there and what I was supposed to add in that context! What's more, Terry himself never managed to explain it to me clearly."

-- Sean Penn, expressing his disapproval with the final cut of Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life

You know, Sean, you pompous tool, the default position with most of America is not caring one bit what you think. This kind of bullshit is why. Malick is a genius; you're a jackass. He doesn't have to explain a damn thing to you. Shut up and act.


Luke Weiss said...

i would reverse this. Malick is a douche.
His ridiculously bloated-yet still weak philosophy is on display in every movie he makes. Sure his movies are beautiful to look at, but so are pornos at times. and we don't drop the G word on their directors. I give far more credit to Lubezki for the beauty of this and the new world.

I am not one to defend actors. But how can you use the word 'pompous' in a post referencing Terrance Malick if the word is not solely used in reference to Terrance Malick.

Michael Murray said...

Lordy, the truth is that the Emperor had no clothes in The Tree of Life. I love Malick, absolutely adore him, but it was a really bad, really pretentious and impenetrable film, and I'm glad that somebody has had the courage to call Malick out on it. The critics, by and large, seem too scared to look dim to come out and say what is so clearly evident: even geniuses are capable of clunkers, and Malick made a clunker.

FabMax said...

Chez, you missed the second part of the quote:

"“But it’s a film I recommend, as long as you go in without any preconceived ideas. It’s up to each person to find their own personal, emotional or spiritual connection to it. Those that do generally emerge very moved.”

Thanks, Pajiba.

Chez said...

That's a fair point, Fab. Certainly tempers this a bit. I'm still not a Penn fan and, sorry, Luke and Michael, Malick is brilliant, but it's important to put things in context.

That said, the thing Penn needs to keep in mind -- something he hates -- is that in the end he's not simply "an artist," as he lives to fancy himself, but a commodity as well. On this particular film, he and Malick weren't contemporaries; he was the actor, the tool, Malick was the director, therefore I think it's wrong for Penn to go off on the finished product in any way. Especially considering that the film is still in theaters and hasn't had a DVD/Blu-Ray release yet.

Nick said...

have yet to see 'tree of life' but if it is as emotionally honest as 'the thin red line' i'll be happy.

Michael Murray said...

Penn was happily subordinate to Malick in the Thin Red Line, but The Tree of Life was something different altogether, and he didn't put Malick's head on a spit but in fact still encouraged people to see the film and make up their own minds. The movie was a disaster, and walking around calling it a work of genius nobody else can understand would be intellectually, morally and artistically dishonest, rendering Penn much more of a douche than right now, when he simply said something that was baldly obvious.

Anonymous said...

Penn is a loudmouth but in this case he happens to be right.

Movie sucked - self indulgent steaming pile - why do people insist on perpetuating the idea that somehow Malick is the greatest filmmaker of our time.

if this film was presented to the world as that of an NYU film student it would be universally called out for the film it really is - but because this hermit who makes a film every 15 years served it up - suddenly this film is a masterpiece.

I would sooner see Brett Ratner film marathon that be forced to sit through tree of life again.

Chez said...

You know what's great about this country? Everyone's entitled to be completely wrong in his or her assessment of The Tree of Life. Even you two.

Ref said...

Hmmmm. Haven't seen this film, but Penn is a magnificent actor and someone I would pay attention to, agree with him or not.

Luke Weiss said...

Chez, wherein do you find his genius?
You keep saying it, but I would expect more... hinting at a post justifying your views.
I find his films to be dripping with his vision and philosophical musings. they eclipse story, cohesion, script. He tries to cover it up with voice-overs, but that is gloss on what are almost always self-indulgent piles of pretty pretty shit. Not only that, but his vision and philosophical musings are not even all that interesting.
I prefer my moviemakers make better movies, and my philosophers make better philosophy. Maybe someday Malick will realize that he is a filmmaker and actually make one.
until then I will save 'genius' for those who truly deserve it: the Coens, and, well, just them really.

Luke Weiss said...

AND - since when are you, of all people, in favor of a subordinate keeping his mouth shut about his superior? Only when the superior is a 'genius'? or only after the film goes to dvd?
what's that all about?
I am sure you wouldn't object if say, Ewen Mcgregor went off on George Lucas before the tripe filled star wars movies were released, which he did several times.
but tell me if I mis-represent you.

Chez said...

Here, Luke. This is what I wrote about Malick and Tree before just before its release. Sorry if his brand of filmmaking is too self-indulgent for your obviously highly refined sensibilities.

As for speaking out against a film you've been paid to star in and promote, putting yourself on par with the person whose vision the movie solely belongs to, it's an arrogant thing to do -- more so when that director is someone as admittedly divisive but still challenging of convention and highly regarded as Malick. Penn was just doing what he always does -- being Penn. It doesn't matter one fucking bit how he would've directed it -- which is exactly what he's alluding to -- because he wasn't the director. Stanley Kubrick -- another daring, visionary filmmaker who did whatever the hell he wanted because he could -- once famously said, "One man writes a novel, one man writes a symphony, it is essential that one man make a film." Penn wasn't that man this time around, and if he had been his typically linear thinking and lack of true insight into the human condition beyond whatever therapy Stella Adler taught him to undergo in the pursuit of his craft would've produced a much less evocative -- and probably much less interesting -- movie.

Tree of Life was a very personal movie -- regardless of its massive themes. And it was a profoundly moving experience because of it -- as powerful as it was occasionally confusing. A little like life itself.

That enough of an answer for you?

Luke Weiss said...

I get that you don't like penn - that is not my problem. He may very well also be a douche. but any employee ought to have the right to ridicule his employer. Malick doesn't have the moral high ground just because you like him a lot, or because penn is a douche. I stand by this: you would be the first to parade a similar quote from someone you like about someone you don't like. Tell me I am wrong!
However, I also see now that for you Malick's work is very personal and affecting, and that is something I will not ridicule. Nonetheless, I find none of the profound anythings in his work that you seem to see all over it.
So to suggest that he is an inexorable genius is a bit of a stretch, as I am not his only detractor. Now, I also admit that suggesting he is an inexorable douchebag is also a stretch.
I will not play the middle-of-the-road all-opinions-are-worthwhile game though - I still think he is a douche, and I still think I am right!

We can agree on kubrick though. there was a visionary.

Chez said...

Did I ever mention how much I love exclamation points? Love 'em. I definitely take you much more seriously now that you're using them.

Your argument is crap, Luke. Not about Malick or Kubrick or whatever, because you're entitled to your opinion on what movies you like and don't like. But one more time for the cheap seats: Penn was paid to both act in and, yes, promote The Tree of Life. I'm sure if you asked him, being that he's an "artist" with shitloads of supposed integrity, he'd tell you that he's only supposed to act and then be free to speak his mind to whomever while the promotion for the film is still going on. True, no one's tying him to a stake driven into the ground and forcing him to say very nice things to each and every person who talks to him, but a studio and producer still very much expect him to do his part to push the finished product instead of being a petulant child who thinks his opinion is somehow more important than any obligation he may have to be a professional.

Once the initial promotion is done and the film has made all the money it can in its theatrical run and upon its early DVD release, then have at it. I still think it's mildly unprofessional -- and incidentally, I thought the same thing when Shia Labeouf and Megan Fox criticized Transformers 2 and that was the worst movie I've ever seen -- but at least at that point his job is over. Penn's full comment, of course, wasn't quite as acerbic as the portion of it a lot of people are latching onto and rightfully questioning, but he's still expected to be more than simply an actor; whether he likes it or not he's supposed to provide commerce in a business in which millions, sometimes billions of dollars are riding on a piece of work he's a part of. But, yes, Penn has a history of being a sullen prick who can't imagine himself as a commodity because his abilities and overall craft are of such monumental import to the world -- so that fact has to enter into any debate over what he said about The Tree of Life.

Luke Weiss said...

i just cannot hold sacred any of this promotion stuff.
I am also having serious trouble understanding why (or in fact believing you when you say) you do. That business is shameless and stupid most of the time, why suddenly have a nearly moral stance on promotion and professionalism? They don't promote out of professional devotion and decorum. They promote because the game is box office take, and for many, their careers depend on their ability to turn that crank. Come on though, this isn't a presidential campaign. There needn't be some kind of united front until the take comes in.

on the damn exclamation points - I was almost rid of them, my fucking wife uses like 60 per electronic communication. It has unfortunately rubbed off on me.
but seriously, you are going to snark off on two of them?

Chez said...

You're getting paid an obscene amount of money to do a job. Fucking do it. You're not a whistle-blower exposing some misdeed or malfeasance and you weren't mistreated at the hand of the director; you're just pissy because you disagree with his vision and would've done it differently. Get over it. Get over yourself.

Luke Weiss said...

No, that's penn.
I'm just pissy because I have a child coming and no job.

Chez said...

I was referencing Penn. Sorry to hear that, though. Obviously, I know what that's like.

Luke Weiss said...

I know you were. I'll save you the smiling emoticon - but I am smiling.