The Tree of Life was booed earlier this month at the Cannes Film Festival, where it took the top prize, the Palme D'Or. Then those boos were drowned out by applause. The film features A-list actors Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, but the focus is on its enigmatic director Terrence Malick. He's made only five feature films since 1973, when Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek played murderers on the lam in the Dakotas in his film Badlands. Malick is known for using flashbacks, voice-over, memory-like sequences, and artful cinematography, and for taking on big themes in his films. His unorthodox storytelling seems to alienate some viewers and entice others.
In this week's Arts File, Kerry Nolan speaks with New Yorker film critic Richard Brody, who explains why he thinks The Tree of Life is Malick's masterpiece.