marty and the kids were out of town for the weekend. a co-worker asked what i was going to do. i said i wasn't sure but might take in a movie. he mentioned this one he thought i might like called tree of life. he said he didn't know much about it other than it was about a generation or two of fathers and had brad pitt and sean penn in it. i held up my hand, told him i was sold and he shouldn't say anything else. i've hit that age where i'm actually open and interested in hearing what older, more experienced folks have to say about things, especially when it comes to parenting.
the movie was playing in my favorite theater which is about a ten minute walk from my house. i arrived well on time, got some corn and a drink and settled into an out of the way seat. being saturday night and a talked about film the small theater filled in quickly. then the movie started. twenty minutes in i feared i'd made a tragic choice. i looked to my right. there was an older couple pinning my in (i had a wall to my left). i studied the couple. it looked like it would take them seven minutes to stand up if i tried to pass. there were people in the rows in front of and behind me so i was stuck there as well. i glanced back to the screen. it confirmed how screwed i was. it turns out i wasn't alone in my sentiment. when the credits finally rolled, a woman a few rows behind me exclaimed "thank god" in a most relieved tone.
since escaping that dark auditorium, my sense for the film has changed, dramatically. it has changed so remarkably that now, now i think it may be one of the best films i've ever seen. like ever. this re-consideration began as soon as my walk home from the theater. and since then, some five months later, images and thoughts from the film continue to roll through the projector in my head with great regularity. and the thoughts and emotions i'm left with are not just whimsical remembrances--they are powerful and moving. in hindsight i would call it an extraordinary work. and when the writing and directing and editing is done, is the resultant experience not the fundamental point of the medium, especially in this "entertain me" commanding society.
i won't tell you why or how this film proved so meaningful for me, unless you come and ask, but will say if you do give it a go, you need to give yourself to it. commit the ninety minutes. and i mean really commit. no checking your mail or answering the phone or watching some today and some tomorrow. you need to let it wash over you in one sitting. that's what was intended and the only way it will work. i think knowing that beforehand would have helped me as going in blind does not work so well in this instance.
and if you don't trust my sense (which would be quite wise) roger ebert just added it to his top ten films of all time (essay here) which is what reminded me to share my experience with this moving picture.