Friday, October 18, 2013

Terrence Malick: Six Films Streaming on Roku

A strange thing about doing these posts is that I discover strange patterns in my viewing habits, and what I have and haven't seen.  For example, as I discovered that all of Terrence Malick's films are available through one service or another on Roku, I also realized that for some reason I have only seen the middle three: The Thin Red Line, The New World, and The Tree of Life. I have at least some excuse for missing To the Wonder, which only played on the big screen once on the UW-Madison campus, but it appeared relatively quickly on Netflix streaming, so I should have caught up with it by now.  I really have no excuse for not seeing Days of Heaven; I even owned a copy of it when it first came out on DVD, but those were the days when you were never quite sure if all of the DVD authoring would be compatible with your particular DVD player, and since I could never get it to play in the correct aspect ratio, I never watched it.

Everyone was pretty excited when The Thin Red Line came out in 1998, Malick's first feature in 20 years; since then he has been downright prolific, with the last two features coming out in consecutive years.  As you may recall, there was some pretty odd responses to his Palm d'Or winning The Tree of Life when it came out in 2011.  Several theaters felt it was necessary to post a consumer warning at the box office, perhaps because some irate customers might have been expecting something more conventional from a movie with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn.

Pictured is the placard I came across when I saw the film at Thalian Hall in Wilmington, North Carolina.

I offer no such warning here.  Instead I encourage you to explore some of the most gorgeous images in American cinema, from the Oscar-winning cinematography in Days of Heaven by Nestor Alemendros, to the most adorable baby's feet you've ever seen in The Tree of Life.

Posters and Synopses from The Movie Database

To the Wonder (Terrence Malick, USA, 2012, 112 minutes)

A romantic drama centered on a man who reconnects with a woman from his hometown after his marriage to a European woman falls apart.

The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, USA, 2011, 139 minutes)

The impressionistic story of a Texas family in the 1950s. The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father. Jack finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith.

The New World (Terrence Malick, USA, 2005, 135 minutes)

A drama about explorer John Smith and the clash between Native Americans and English settlers in the 17th century.

The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, USA, 1998, 170 minutes)

Based on the graphic novel by James Jones, The Thin Red Line tells the story of a group of men, an Army Rifle company called C-for-Charlie, who change, suffer, and ultimately make essential discoveries about themselves during the fierce World War II battle of Guadalcanal. It follows their journey, from the surprise of an unopposed landing, through the bloody and exhausting battles that follow, to the ultimate departure of those who survived. A powerful frontline cast - including Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson and George Clooney - explodes into action in this hauntingly realistic view of military and moral chaos in the Pacific during World War II.

(Until 10/31/13)

Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, USA, 1978, 94 minutes)

In 1910, a Chicago steel worker accidentally kills his supervisor and flees to the Texas panhandle with his girlfriend and little sister to work harvesting wheat in the fields of a stoic farmer. A love triangle, a swarm of locusts, a hellish fire—Malick captures it all with dreamlike authenticity, creating at once a timeless American idyll and a gritty evocation of turn-of-the-century labor.

Badlands (Terrence Malick, USA, 1973, 94 minutes)

Dramatization of the Starkweather-Fugate killing spree of the 1950's, in which a teenage girl and her twenty-something boyfriend slaughtered her entire family and several others in the Dakota badlands.

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