Quite probably America’s only cinema impressionist poet.
Badlands – Ramon Estevez & Sissy Spacek spend their Summer vacation on a killing spree. This ain’t your Frankie & Annette type Summer movie.
Days of Heaven – This is flawed because I never liked Brooke Adams or Richard Gere for the matter (although he’s pretty good in An Officer and a Gentleman and The Hoax). The weird thing is, Malick wanted John Travolta as the lead. Linda Manz was a find, and her accented voice overs really add to the poetry of the film. Néstor Almendros won an Oscar for cinematography (though you could argue that half belongs to Haskell Wexler. Or you could argue that Malick should share the award since he pushed the cinematographers to use existing light over artificial).
The Thin Red Line – Superior to Private Ryan in every way (except the visceral impact). Intellectually and artistically great. Not for everyone. Adrian Brody apparently filmed a much larger part (one of the leads actually), and was dismayed to discover his part reduced to a couple words. He found this out while bringing his family to see the movie. However, if he had done his homework, he’d know this is S.O.P. for a Malick film. Just ask Richard Gere about Days of Heaven. Production is just the collecting of raw materials for Terry. Post production is where he paints. Still, it sucks for the actors who expected more screen time.
The New World – I’m gonna say this is Terry’s most experimental film to date. It has overlapping voice over and lots of non-linear editing. A lot of the time I can’t understand what people are saying. I don’t know if that’s because of the mix or the accents. It’s slightly redundant, and I’d like to see Malick do something else besides a treatise on man and nature. We’ll see. But it’s still beautiful to watch.
The Tree of Life – This won Terry the Palm d’Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival (he won Best Director at the 1979 festival for Days of Heaven). This has divided people (cineastes and mouth breathers), into people who hate it and people who love it (or those who are confused by it). I really liked it. In fact, I saw it twice in under a week. There are certainly some redundancies in Terry’s last 3 films, but for me, I was swept up in the artistry. Image and sound worked together and gave me the cinema poetry I crave from a Malick film. Read my review for more.