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The Tree of Life

The opening on-screen quote from the Book of Job ought to be a tip off: “Where were you when I established the foundations of the earth?” And soon afterward, Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life takes us to that creational event, rendered in an explosive, fiery extravaganza. Malick’s ambition and means are certainly large scale and visionary. What they’re meant to communicate is considerably more difficult to say.


Boarding schools have functioned as different kinds of microcosms in many films over the years, from Zero de Conduite and Madchen in Uniform through If…, Dead Poet’s Society, and last year’s Never Let Me Go. So viewing a new film in such a setting sets the mind to wondering which slot to fit it into: political allegory? Pedagogical uplift? Psychosexual parable? Cracks is happy to play with all of those, whether from overambition or simply trying to keep us from figuring out where it is going until it has pulled us in.

Third Star

The latest in the Amherst Theaters’s “From Britain With Love” series, presented in conjunction with the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the UK Film Council, Third Star has a beginning you need to pay attention to. I warn you because it’s imagery is so striking that you may find yourself looking at it rather than paying attention to what you are hearing.

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