Arthouse Handholding: Tree of Life

 
 

I am sure Mr. Gamble will have something to say about this bit of decision making that has been circling the web regarding Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life (Kurt’s Review). Has the arthouse fallen into such a rut in terms of audience awareness and open-mindedness for cinema sacrificed for safe feel-good adult dramedys? (Call it the Bottle Shock effect.) Or is this simply a ‘it doesn’t hurt to warn people?’ preemptive thinking? When David O. Russell’s Three Kings came out, some cinemas (and eventually the DVD release) had warnings that the colour palette of the film (desaturated and grainy) was intentional and not a flaw of the projection, so this sort of precedent is not unheard-of . Even if you want to just talk about content and not technical aspects, I’m sure there were warnings on Enter The Void and Irreversible in North America during their runs, and that is probably a good thing. Examples of cinema-goers being warned about unusual content or style beyond the simple rating system warnings of extreme violence or harsh language are unusual, but by no means unheard of, but still worth examining why some theatres might be proactive about informing their customers, particularly when the films have huge Hollywood stars in them, which may draw some folks that might not be aware of what the film is actually about (in terms of Brad Pitt, see also The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford). Here is the Avon Theatre notice:

 

 

Jim Emerson over at Scanners Blog probably has the best summation. Halfway down his piece is probably the best example of a warning/disclaimer that plays like comedy, yet was posted at Cannes of all places.

Back to Tree of Life, from an IndieWire interview with an Avon Theatre executive:

“The overwhelming response to the film was, in fact, positive. There was a small but vocal minority of patrons who walked out of the film, but there were a few individuals who were fairly nasty and belligerent towards the management staff, demanding their money back. There have been a significant number of people who were fascinated by the film and there were plenty of individuals who have written to us to tell us that they thought the film was a masterpiece.”

and

“The combination of walkouts and isolated instances led us to take our approach with the memo. We always want to be as direct, open and transparent as possible with our patrons and potential filmgoers. If they’re not totally informed about the movie’s stylistic approach, then they might want to take a moment to read up on it and decide whether or not it’s something they might want to see. We wanted to keep customers aware while preemptively diffusing instances like what happened last week when customers got up in the faces of our kind and caring staff.”

This sort of ‘belligerent behavior’ this was spotted by Rowthree pal Jason Gorber (thanks to Mamo! Matt Brown for the heads up on this one) as a touch of passive-aggressive graffiti in the Bell Lightbox (The TIFF group multiplex in Toronto) washroom:

 

 

Got an opinion? Got a Tree of Life cinema story? Chime in in the comments section.

Shorts Program – One Fine Day

I‘m not going to say that my introduction to Asian cinema was with Beat Takeshi but as I’ve been watching martial arts and triad movies long before I ever ran into his sly offbeat humour with Battle Royale. After BR I started to search out his movies and I discovered an artist with a very wide range.

In 2007 Takeshi created the short One Fine Day as part of Chacun son cinéma ou Ce petit coup au coeur quand la lumière s’éteint et que le film commence (To Each His Own Cinema). While there is not a lot going on in One Fine Day it does bring a smile to my face and is a good example of Beat Takeshi’s humour.

Von Trier’s Box Office Buzz

antichrist_picture_2

Chaos Reigns! I caught Antichrist [Kurt’s Review] at the only screen it is publicly playing in New York, The IFC Center on 6th ave. The midnight screening that had shown the night before was a complete sell out and the matinee films for the following day were quickly filling up. Notices were posted up around the box office, on the theater’s exterior as well as inside our waiting room for warning of the extreme gore and violence, alongside it was a “wimp’s guide to surviving Von Trier’s ‘Antichrist.'” The steps were simple, the 63 minute mark and the 85 minute mark are your cues to leave- included were film stills and lines of dialog for scenes that you should watch for to begin packing your bags in order to make it to the exit in time.

Did they post this at everyone’s theater?

As we filed into the 50-something-seat theater, and the rustling of bags and umbrellas let up, I caught a number of wrist watch alarms and cell phone alarms being set- people selecting their ring tone and vibrating patterns for their big escape. Sure enough, on my return from the bathroom at the 55-minute mark, it was only a scene or two before the high-pitched beeping and hum of pocket-alarms broke everyone’s focus. We lost three older ladies and a young guy, not to mention the woman who left immediately after the death of the child.

To say the least, I was dazzled by the film. The movie expresses the basic fears of all women: loss of child, difficulty to deal with pleasure, loss or abandonment from partner, inhibition/exhibition and overall a stunning study of this woman (Gainsbourg)’s decent into Hysteria. However…Horror flick? I don’t think so.

Would you like to know more…?

Bookmarks for September 28th through October 4th

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What we’ve been reading – September 28th through October 4th:

  • The Lynch Mob on Polanski
    “Roman Polanski is a criminal, Roberts said. "He raped and drugged and raped and sodomized a child. And then was a fugitive from justice. As far as I’m concerned, just take him out and shoot him.”
  • Let’s Make Theatre Hopping Legal…
    Would this benefit moviegoers? Sure. This will legalize something a good number of people are already doing. Just like downloading music or movies, pirates will still exist, but a majority of folks are law-abiding citizens who prefer to live within the law. People who've paid $9.50 to see a real turkey may not feel quite so ripped-off if they get to see another movie (or part of one) for free.
  • Top 10 Unanswered Questions in Geeky Movies
    GeekDad covers some of the more extensive plot holes in popular blockbusters. Mainly Science-fiction movies, because that seems to attract the folks most interested in minutae.