If the rumours are true, I’ll be experiencing “To the Wonder” from my sofa within just a few days. Oh, the irony that the first film of the year I’m truly pining for will star Ben Affleck! But those in the know realize that “To the Wonder” is not a Ben Affleck film…it’s a Terrence Malick film. And they are also probably aware that Malick, the reclusive genius, is releasing a new work for the second time in less than 24 months. Remarkable. His debut was the brilliant “Badlands” in 1974, followed by “Days of Heaven” in 1978. Then 20 years until “The Thin Red Line” in 1998. Seven years went by until 2005’s “The New World”—Malick’s masterpiece, and my second favorite film of that decade. And, of course, my best movie of 2011, “The Tree of Life”. Malick is 5 for 5—but over the course of 37 years! It’s quite an accomplished oeuvre, and Terrence is certainly an auteur. But a prolific director, he is not. So, a new project from him is always in event. And I’ve been stressing for months about “To the Wonder” getting to a theater near me, so that I could watch it as soon as possible. My hope was that all of the attention Ben Affleck has been getting the last few months would translate into a stopover at the multiplex on April 12th. It seems that my worries are over, however. It’s been leaked, for at least a couple of weeks now, that “To the Wonder” will premiere on Video On Demand the same day that the film arrives in theaters. That means that even if it only plays at a lone venue across the Hudson River from my suburban New Jersey home, I’ll still get the opportunity to check it out if a public screening proves unmanageable. I took Anthony Lane of The New Yorker to task on this blog a few months back regarding just this scenario, after he lambasted film-goers for using the VOD option instead of attending an auditorium showing. I said it then, and I’ll repeat it now—many of us don’t have the choice. What he should have been writing in that article was praise for folks who seek out headier fare like “To the Wonder” or Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia”. Well, I’m understandably excited about the latest from Terrence Malick. And equally ecstatic that the almost septuagenarian has another trio of projects in various stages of production, all expected to be released over the next couple of years. Be still my rapidly beating heart. And on a poignant note, despite a mixed advance reception from critics(so far), “To the Wonder” is said to be the last official review written by the late Roger Ebert. And he gave it a big “thumbs up”. As a proud member of the Malick cult canon, Ebert’s swan song critique is more than enough for me. Expect my appreciation soon—after I click a button and immerse myself in it from my couch.
Terrence Malick’s “To the Wonder” on VOD!!!