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The tree of strife

Gazette staff July 25th, 2012

Oscar nominations notwithstanding, it turns out that spending $32 million on a meditative study on the meaning of our existence doesn’t make you the most popular kid in class.

Credit: Brad Gregg

Fresh from the critically acclaimed but audience-polarizing drama The Tree of Life, director Terrence Malick reportedly is still tinkering with his Oklahoma-lensed follow-up, To the Wonder. While the drama is packed with star power — Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem and Jessica Chastain among them — it still has no firm release date … and not winning over distributors to secure it one.

In fact, the movie “has scared [them] away,” according to film journalist Jeffrey Wells in a July 14 post on his hollywood-elsewhere.com.

The micromanaging Malick, who shot much of To the Wonder in Bartlesville — where he grew up and where his parents still reside — isn’t known for speed. (Two decades separated the release of his second and third features, 1978’s Days of Heaven and 1998’s The Thin Red Line.) Wells took the famously reclusive director to task for not even allowing so much as a single teaser image to be released yet, although Wonder was shot in 2010.

Wrote Wells, “In other words, the same buyers who were going ‘what the eff is this?’ after seeing The Tree of Life are again throwing up their hands and muttering to themselves in the general vein of ‘here we go again,’ ‘life is too short,’ ‘Jesus H. Christ’ and ‘not me, babe.’ “The fact that To The Wonder is allegedly homeless nearly two years after principal photography is the proof in the pudding. Terrence Malick needs an intervention. … Malick’s endless dithering and dilly-dallying indicates that [his producers] are not forcing the issue and have decided to serve him in a passive, whatever-Terry-wants sort of way.”

In summary, “Terrence Malick ... has been enabled to death by his friends and supporters,” Wells wrote, “but Malick needs a strong Starbuck in his life.”

Malick heard you, Wells. He said he’ll take a grande Caffè Mocha. No, wait, make that a venti Iced Cinnamon Dolce Latte. Er, hang on, a tall Skinny Caramel Macchiato. With no-fat whip. And two Splendas. No, three. Wait, substitute Sweet & Low. Or perhaps …

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