NICK CLEMENT BECOMES A DAD AND REFLECTS BACK ON A MODERN CLASSIC
LOOKING BACK, MOVING FORWARDS
Last year, when we relaunched MOVIE VIRAL, I was lucky enough to encounter NICK CLEMENT. Nick had a track record in film, having worked alongside the TONY SCOTT team. He also built a following in reviewing old classics and new releases, online. So it was a real coup to get him writing for our outfit (VARIETY magazine: we saw him first!).
Nick reminds us that movies are ultimately about community. We share in the pleasure of appreciating art and craftsmanship and equally in embracing the respectful and civil differences of opinion that can and should also be inspired and engendered. And we all develop our own library of cinematic images as a visual shortcut to express and accompany our own major events in life, both ‘dark’ and ‘light’. That is the gift of Cinema to all of us: expressing, heightening, distinguishing and defining both personal and communal experiences.
In Nick’s own case, he was delighted to recently become a Father. Belated Congratulations, Mr. Clement! And whilst he is now an even busier man than before, he took the time to express his newly found joy and sense of awe in the best way possible. He went and re-viewed a movie, of course!
NICK CLEMENT brings you THE TREE OF LIFE (2011).
In the past, I’ve written at length about Terrence Malick’s profound masterwork The Tree of Life, but that’s not going to stop me from rattling off a few more words about it, as it absolutely had to be the first movie I viewed with my newborn son. CLEARLY – he’ll digest nothing from it at 3.5 days of age, but my intent was to have Desplat’s score wash over him, with those ethereal voiceovers in the background providing soothing comfort.
This is a film that had an almost insane, instant impact on me when I first viewed it in NYC on opening weekend with my wife. And over countless viewings, I’ve been able to pull so many different pieces of thematic richness from this gorgeous, cosmic, and absolutely epic piece of film-making.
The movie best resembles a series of half-forgotten dreams, suppressed childhood nightmares and failures, bits from our not-fully-formed subconscious, with an overwhelming sense of discovery, both personal and familial, that enlivens every single moment. Yes, Emmanuel Lubezki has won the Oscar two years in a row for his astounding work on Gravity and Birdman (and now here comes The Revenant…), but it’s an utter crime that his magisterial work on this film didn’t take the top prize.
The use of wide angle lenses, steadicam, off-kilter angles, and sweeping camera moves produces an intoxicating visual landscape, with the movie offering up shot after shot of sublime imagery. I’m always fascinated with the Brad Pitt character, a tough-love 50’s father desperately trying to cling to his passion (music and inventions), while he works a job that he doesn’t care about, all in an effort to put food on the table for his family, in a way that so many people have done for their loved ones for so many years.
Love, in general, is explored all throughout this remarkably passionate piece of work, with the contrasting of a father’s tough love against the needs of his three sons (different in each case), and how fear, compassion, and respect are intertwined to expand upon the inherent needs, desires, and foibles of human behavior.
There’s a sense of loss, of untapped achievement that this film explores in certain sequences (the scenes with Penn hit these notes of personal isolation repeatedly), and then comes the final 30 minutes, which, for me, stands as some of the most beguiling, soul-searching stuff ever put into a film.
And don’t get me started on the mortally wounded plesiosaur that’s existentially contemplating its fate on that beach. Or the scene with Chastain levitating, and how Malick positioned her as the ultimate embodiment of correct and serene. She’s everyone’s mother, the Earth’s mother, a person of unending love and understanding. And then there’s the vividly constructed creation sequence (co-designed by genius Douglas Tumbull).
I could probably write a book about that 15 minute section, as I’ve watched it an absurd amount of times, especially before bed, as it puts me in an introspective state of mind that allows me to drift off into the inky blackness of the night. To say that I adore this movie would be an understatement; it’s easily in my top 10 of all-time, and a film I could watch at any point of any given day.
After spending close to a decade working in Hollywood, Nick Clement has taken his passion for film and transitioned into a blogger and amateur reviewer, tackling old, new, and far flung titles without a care for his cerebral cortex. His latest venture: Podcasting Them Softly, finds him tackling new ground as an entertainment guru, and along with his spirited partner Frank Mengarelli, are attracting some diverse and exciting talent to their site. Some of Nick‘s favorite filmmakers include Michael Mann, Martin Scorsese, Tony Scott, Oliver Stone, David Fincher, Werner Herzog, Terrence Malick, and Billy Wilder, and he’s a huge proponent of the “31 Flavors of Cinema” school of thought. Favorite films include The Tree of Life, Goodfellas, Heat, Back to the Future, Fitzcarraldo, Zoolander, Babe, and Enter the Void.