Saturday, June 25, 2011

There are Two Ways Through Life, the Way of Grace and the Way of MONSTERS

Since returning from Milan, I've seen two movies. The first was Super 8, a J.J. Abrams-directed coming-of-age/monster-movie that plays like something Steven Spielberg might have made 20 years ago. It takes place in the seventies and centers on a group of kids who witness a massive train accident while filming a homemade zombie movie. The train accident, however, is less of an accident than it originally appears, and the kids find themselves in the middle of a government cover-up involving some violent, otherworldly cargo.

It isn't the kind of movie that warrants deep analysis, but it's a lot of fun. The way the kids interact with each other is hilarious and—if my memory of Junior High serves me well—pretty accurate. Something about the movie made me feel nostalgic, too. As a kid I used to watch similar stuff and it made me think that someday—maybe when I was close to being a teenager—I, too, would ride all over town on my bike, crawl in and out of my friends' second-story windows at night, and find myself confronting bizarre, dangerous, and mysterious phenomena. None of that ever happened, but Super 8 made me remember what it felt like when I was young enough to think that it could. It was a fun feeling.

The second movie was The Tree of Life. It's not in wide release yet, but I saw it at a little theater in Providence with Jenni. I'd been curious about it ever since I saw the trailer last month. If you haven't seen it (or if you haven't seen the version with the voiceover), watch it.

Usually when people hear about a movie the first question they ask is “what's it about?” The thing is, you can't ask that question about The Tree of Life because The Tree of Life is about everything. Many will (and have) accused the film of being pretentious. I understand this sort of movie is not everyone's cup of tea, but I find it sad that so many are quick to disregard it as some form of snobbery. The Tree of Life is clearly the work of someone who thinks often and deeply about the mysteries of life: Where did we come from? Is there a God? If so, what is God like? Does God think about me? If so, what does He think? Why is life so difficult? How much control do we have over our lives? Will we be judged? What happens when we die? Will we ever see those we've lost again? Surely snobs aren't the only ones who think about these things.