Monday, January 30, 2006

Terrence Mallick's The New World

Had really hoped for good things from this one. Mallick, a good Texas boy at least at times in his life, directed one of my favorite movies of all time: 1978's Days of Heaven.

Days of Heaven had a great cast with Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepherd in the leads and the wonderful Linda Manz as the young wannabe Mud Doctor: "I've been thinking what to do wit' my future. I could be a mud doctor. Check out the earth. Underneat'."

I thought Q’orianka Kilcher was quite good, if a little, er, mercurial? John Rolfe was pretty good, too, and Christopher Plummer gets better as he ages. Unfortunately, Colin Farrell plays the key male role as Captain John Smith. After having watched Alexander recently, I've decided Farrell is the world's most overrated actor. (In every battle scene in Alexander, he looked terrified.) He is no better in this role though in his defense, the dialogue of both movies left a lot to be desired.

As I think abouth comparisons between the two, it occurs to me that in many ways, the stories are similar...ambition, love triangle, etc...

Like Days of Heaven, this movie moves at a snail's pace. It's listed at 135 minutes, but felt longer. Days of Heaven compensated for the slow pace with the incredible narration of Manz (see above quote, not as funny to read it but hearing it as narration is as much a scream as it is tragic) whereas the "narration" of The New World comes from our eavesdropping on the thoughts of Smith and Pochahontas, contemplating Mother Earth (at least for Pochahontas) each other, themselves and, most painfully, his angst.

Also like Days of Heaven, New World was beautifully filmed. I believe it was filmed using only natural light. The last "film" I remember trying that was also too long: Kubrick's Barry Lyndon.

It wasn't as politically correct as I had feared, but if could have just watched the last hour, I'd have been much happier. Leaving the theater, I heard a lot of this, "I'm picking the movie next time." I have no one to blame but myself.

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