Not only is Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life one of the most beautiful films of the year, it’s also sparked some of the most fascinating online discourse. Critics are fairly divided, with some arguing that “The Tree Of Life has a vision that makes most movies look like crude stick drawings,” while others opine, “Tree of Life? Tree of sanctimonious mopey male egotism disguised as a search for meaning, more like.” Overall, though, the film has a high ranking on Rottentomatoes and has performed respectably at the box office.

But one thing that I’ve heard numerous times is that Sean Penn is wasted in this film. And a recent interview that Penn gave seems to affirm that the strong-willed actor himself believes his character was not put to good use. Hit the jump to read his comments.
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The answer to that question may, possibly, be ‘yes.’ (But my gut says ‘no.’) We hear about super-long cuts of movies relatively often; many a film has been the subject of rumor about an early edit running four, five, even six hours. These often refer to early, raw assembly edits that are never meant to be seen as a final film. (And, in the modern age of on the fly non-linear editing, such cuts are mostly relics of the past.) Most of the time, the extra-long cut of a movie is simply a fantasy cooked up in the imaginations of hopeful audiences.

But sometimes not. Terrence Malick is a notorious tinkerer in the editing room, where he gradually ‘finds’ his movies through a great deal of experimentation with what we often imagine to be mountains of film. And while it seems difficult to believe that The Tree of Life, which currently runs a little under two and a half hours, might be stretched to SIX hours, that’s what a recent interview may claim will happen. Read More »

I’m not convinced that this isn’t just preaching to the converted, but a new featurette in which David Fincher and Christopher Nolan gush about the work and influence of Terrence Malick is pretty cool regardless. Fox Searchlight put this together either to draw some new audiences in to see The Tree of Life, or just to please the existing audience that already pays attention to all three directors. Either way, it’s a nice little thing that will only take up a few minutes of your time. Read More »

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This week, Dave, Devindra, and Adam continue their discussion about Tree of Life, find something redeemable about the Pirates sequels, and get excited about Darren Aronofsky’s next project. Special guest director Rian Johnson returns. Check out Rian’s films on Netflix and Amazon. His newest film, Looper, will be in theaters September 2012.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Join us for our next live broadcast on Sunday, June 19th, at Slashfilm’s live page where we’ll be discussing The Green Lantern.

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Briefly: Good news for film fans in the UK who want to see the new Terrence Malick film: after Icon Entertainment totally botched release plans for The Tree of Life by announcing a plan to open it in London ahead of the Cannes premiere, Fox Searchlight and int’l right holders Summit International got more than a bit angry, and we didn’t know when the movie would open in the UK. Some behind the scenes legal wrangling no doubt went on, but the bottom line is now clear: financier Bill Pohlad and his River Road Entertainment has sold UK rights to Fox Searchlight. The company will open the film in the UK on July 8, which is the same date the film goes wide in the US.

We don’t have any word on the planned Australian or New Zealand release for the film, however. (Icon also had rights for those countries.) But this is a good step. [Deadline]

Terrence Malick‘s epic dissection of life, love and everything in between, The Tree of Life, continues its limited expansion today, opening in cities like San Francisco, Austin, Atlanta, Boston and Chicago. As more people get to experience Malick’s passion project, the famously reclusive filmmaker is apparently worried about the film’s presentation and he’s written a letter to all the projectionists who will be showing his film, complete with specific directions on how to do so.

Check out Malick’s projection wish list, as well as a hint to when he might shoot his next project (not the Ben Affleck/Rachel McAdams one, another one), after the jump. Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

The past couple of weeks have been like Christmas for Terrence Malick fans. A new film (The Tree of Life, opening limited tomorrow) and information about two more films: the IMAX documentary Voyage of Time and a new drama possibly to be called The Burial. We just got confirmation that Voyage of Time would still be happening, after most talk of the project seemed to dissipate in the past six months.

Now a new interview with producer Bill Pohlad (the day you see an interview with the reclusive Terrence Malick will probably be the day the Rapture actually happens) sheds a bit more light on both projects. Read More »

The past couple years have been slightly confusing with respect to Terrence Malick‘s slate of new films. We knew he was making The Tree of Life, which opens limited this weekend after premiering last week at Cannes, where it won the Palme d’Or. For some time it also seemed like he had spun some Tree ideas off into a separate IMAX film (possibly a documentary) called Voyage of Time. But as the release of The Tree of Life approached, all talk of and info on Voyage of Time seemed to dry up. Had the movie been absorbed back into Tree, in the form of that film’s cosmic sequences?

Apparently not. Producer Bill Pohlad spoke to press in Hollywood this evening for the local premiere of The Tree of Life, and he said that Terrence Malick still wants to make the IMAX film. Actress Jessica Chastain was also on hand, and she spoke a bit about working with the director, and the small part she shot for his other upcoming film, a modern drama that has been tentatively called The Burial. Read More »

The Cannes jury, headed by Robert De Niro, has selected the winners of this year’s competition slate, and the results are slightly surprising. In the early days of the fest two films quickly emerged as seeming front-runners for the top prize, Lynne Ramsay‘s We Need to Talk About Kevin and Michel Hazanavicius‘ silent black and white film The Artist, but the Palme d’Or went instead to Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life.

The slate of winners was surprisingly tipped towards American films and talent, or films that played very specifically towards American tendencies in a way that isn’t quite typical for a Cannes awards slate. The full list of winners is after the break. Read More »

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