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Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Symbolic Order of Seduction:The Tree of Life - The Order of Production and Exchange: Water For Elephants

Please follow me. - Jean Baudrillard

I'm trying.

I saw The Tree of Life for the second time tonight. Not since Pasolini have I seen such images photographed with such love. The beautiful still face of Jessica Chastain. The no longer pretty boy face of Brad Pitt, but a face with a deep depth  of character, fearless, and the beautiful ravaged face of Sean Penn. Hunter McCracken as Jack the young boy is astonishing. Here are faces of such seductive beauty, such portraits, every one, of pure appearance.



Now consider how Francis Lawrence uses the face of Robert Pattinson as a prop in Water For Elephants. He has said the camera just loves him, and he has put Pattinson in every scene, close up after close up and you can feel Pattinson's uneasiness. Just as Lawrence has constructed a 1930's circus simulacrum as a prop and to pimp it for all its worth, he has used Reese Witherspoon and Waltz as props also. Not to mention Tai the elephant dragged to the city for a premiere to pimp her too. This is what Lawrence knows how to do: use the set and his actors as props. Pattinson's face is the message, the cliched content of the scene is secondary filler.

Terrence Stamp

Here are some Pasolini portraits from Teorema:

For this film go to http://www.netflix.com

Silvano Mangano
Walter Benjamin comments on using props in his seminal essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Robert Pattinson's face has been down this road before in The Haunted Airman along with numerous cigarettes. Or his face has led to effacement. Edward Cullen was a departure whenever Catherine Blabbermouth Hardwicke got out of the way. I suspect Cosmopolis will not travel the cliched path.

The Tree of Life and Philosophy: The Phenomenological Roots of Terrence Malick (co-edited with Vernon W. Cisney)
The aim of this project is to produce a volume of essays on Terrence Malick's 2011 film "The Tree of Life", working to draw out philosophical themes from this important piece of cinema. 

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