Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 180: Friday July 1

The New World (Malick, 2005): Ritzy Cinema 8.30pm

The place to be this weekend is definitely the Ritzy in Brixton where film buffs can catch up on director Terrence Malick's work so far prior to the long-awaited release of his Cannes Festival Palme d'Or winner The Tree of Life in the UK on July 15.

The Tree of Life has divided critics just as much as The New World did when released in 2005. On Monday night on Radio 3 critic Nigel Floyd, who is on record as saying he has liked none of Malick's work since Days of Heaven, will discuss The Tree of Life with the director of Senna, Asif Kapadia. The debate will take place on the programme Night Waves (details via this link).

Here for the prosecution on the subject of The New World is Jonathan Rosenbaum in the Chicago Reader:

'No important American filmmaker in recent years has divided audiences more than writer-director Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line), and his fourth feature in 35 years pushed me for the first time into the skeptics' corner. The subject matter is partly to blame: after four centuries of Anglo denial about the genocidal conquest of America, I was hoping for something a little more grown-up and educational about John Smith (Colin Farrell) and Pocahontas (the striking Q'Orianka Kilcher). Malick still has an eye for landscapes, but since Badlands (1973) his storytelling skill has atrophied, and he's now given to transcendental reveries, discontinuous editing, offscreen monologues, and a pie-eyed sense of awe. All these things can be defended, even celebrated, but I couldn't find my bearings. With Christopher Plummer, David Thewlis, and Christian Bale.'

Here for the defence is the Guardian's John Patterson who hailed the film the best of the last decade – and by some way. This is his article from December in full and here is an extract:

'It may seem like an exaggeration, but with The New World cinema has reached its culmination, its apotheosis. It is both ancient and modern, cinema at its purest and most organic, its simplest and most refined, made with much the same tools as were available in the infancy of the form a century ago to the Lumières, to Griffith and Murnau. Barring a few adjustments for modernity – colour, sound, developments in editing, a hyper-cine-literate audience – it could conceivably have been made 80 years ago (like Murnau and Flaherty's Tabu). This is why, I believe, when all the middlebrow  Oscar-dross of our time has eroded away to its constituent molecules of celluloid, The New World will stand tall, isolated and magnificent, like Kubrick's black monolith.'

Here is the opening.

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