"The New World"
Directed by Terrence Malick.
Written by Terrence Malick.
Starring Colin Farrell, Q'Orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer
and Christian Bale.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 1/10/06
The man that brought us "The Thin Red Line"
does not work very often, so when he does you betta recognize, fool!
(I guess when you only work once every ten years or so on average,
you GOTTA recognize, eh?)
I got a freebie to catch Terrence Malick's
latest epic, "The New World", which was shown at the AFI Silver
theater in Silver Spring earlier tonight. Strangely, this is
the first time I have been to this theater, but now, after going, I
can say hands-down it's the best theater in the Washington area.
There are about 30 seats near the back that are basically VIP seats,
but I got to the movie early enough to snag one and let me put it
Daddy was hangin' the fuck out!!!
Comfy plush, big armrests, a side table for
my tasty beverage and assorted food that I could have bought out in
the lobby, and unobstructed sightlines for my viewing pleasure.
Mmmm, it's almost as good as bacon. Almost.
Much like the theater, "The New World" is
peaceful, serene, a breath of fresh air and a fantastic picture for
those that love the movies...although, I sensed while watching that
many people--certainly the untrained eye--will watch this film and
get bored, because there is simply a lack of things going on.
Colin Farrell is the lead performer in this film but I hesitate to
call him the star of it, because his character, Captain John Smith,
isn't really the driver of the film's events, its main character nor
is he the film's true essence. In fact, I think he has less
than 50 lines in this movie; he is mainly our point of view when the
Captain Newport-led English--arriving in Virginia in 1607 attempting
to set up a camp--send Smith to learn about "the naturals", "the
savages" that already occupy said land. Over the course of
what might be a year, Smith becomes ingrained learning from a tribe
of native people, including a young girl named Pocahontas (Q'Orianka
Kilcher), who takes Smith under her wing while learning the white
man's bastardized language and the white man's devastating knack for
showing up and killing the rightful owners of a land to take it
over. Smith leaves the tribe to return to his camp, only to
find it in ruins and on the verge of a mass mutiny. More
months pass, and finally, Newport (Christopher Plummer) returns from
his trip to England with more settlers, more women, and more
supplies. By this time, a whole bunch happens that puts
Pocahontas in the hands of the settlers and in an affair with a
widower (Christian Bale) who seeks the hand of a native princess.
It may sound like the film has this big
story with many details and an epic scope. In reality, "The
New World" is one continuously beautiful shot of the outdoors,
complete with badass Indians in tribal makeup, nature shots (much
like the work in "The Thin Red Line", you will occasionally get
shots of things like spiders crawling or water flowing or characters
petting tree branches) and transition sequences. Time passes
quickly, quietly, sometimes accompanied by a score, sometimes not.
Because of the language barrier during the Smith/Pocahontas initial
courtship, there is about 30 minutes of screen time where almost
nothing is said to any other character directly, although voiceover
is used sporadically throughout. Even when lines are spoken,
you don't always understand them, because the English English that
is spoken is hard to pick up.
This movie is quiet. But, I loved it,
oh I loved it so! It's very artsy, but not artsy-fartsy, in
that Malick is patient with his filmmaking but doesn't appear to be
giving us shots for the sake of art. The cinematography is
very simple, with long, beautiful shots of forests, plains, the
village, the water. He doesn't fall victim to MTV-style quick
cuts and snap camera movements. The characters don't have long
soliloquies on the state of the union, or lack thereof, although one
Indian character does begin to wax prophecy when he talks about the
white man and their attempts to take over the coast. "The New
World" just gives it to you straight, and it makes for a well
thought-out night at the movies.
The performances mostly get by, but the work
of rookie Kilcher is perfect. (I understand she won the
National Board of Review's Breakthrough Performance by an Actress
Award this week, and I can see why.) She does most of her work
without any sound, but her hand movements in her expression of love
for Smith really do speak to the audience, along with a smile that
could win awards for years to come. Kilcher has the majority
of the film's screen time and she leaves a lasting impression as an
actress with a bright future ahead.
One last note--the version that I saw of
this film was about 130 minutes, but I understand that a longer
version has been running in New York & L.A. over the last two weeks,
and that the wide release version will be different than what I saw
tonight. If I had to guess, it will be shorter than what I
saw, which is too bad--I didn't think there was much to be cut from
this beautiful-looking print of the flick. Whatever version
you see, I think you will enjoy the experience, more so if you like
your film served in a high society mug.
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard