Before we begin, let’s just say that the discourse of films can be varied and fascinating, with many critics and academic writers offering their measured takes on everything from the new “Transformers” film to “The Tree of Life.” We would like to urge you to find these discussions that are actively going on at various websites and are likely more fruitful than hearing the opinion of a crackpot provocateur like Uwe Boll.
And now, we cede the stage to Dr. Boll.
In an interview with Screen Junkies promoting his latest, “Bloodrayne: The Third Reich,” Boll was asked, somewhat randomly, his thoughts on “The Tree of Life.” While this is a lot like asking Justin Bieber his views on abortion, Boll was more than prepared. “The opening of that movie was really good but then he completely lost it,” offers Boll, who holds a doctorate in English. “I think ‘Tree of Life’ is a piece of shit. Totally, and I think Sean Penn is ridiculous in it, like walking around in the elevator. It’s nothing. This is the thing. It’s so overrated because it’s Terrence Malick.”
He continued, offering advice to Malick on how to make a movie. “You have to tell a story that you get a connection to something. When he starts doing after 25 minutes a National Geographic break where you see volcanoes and planets coming together. Then his dinosaur episode with ‘Jurassic Park.’ You think well, what’s going on with him? What is wrong with wrong with the guy? I was not engaged to keep watching. If I would have known how this ends, I would have walked out. But I watched the whole movie because I wanted to see how it ends also. The end was I think the most pathetic thing, when they’re all at the beach hugging each other. It was fucking disastrous. It was a complete disaster and it shows also that a lot of stars have no taste. Like Sean Penn, Brad Pitt have no taste what a good movie is. They trusted the director but you have to have your own brain.” He closes by offering, “You cannot tell me you were not bored to death while you watched ‘The Tree of Life.’ “
Boll also managed to slide Lars von Trier into this conversation. “I like ‘Breaking the Waves,’ ” he says, comparing von Trier’s appeal to Malick’s. “After that was all crap. The thing is he gets all the Hollywood stars, ‘Oh, I want to work with him,’ and they don’t know what kind of retard he is.” Clearly, the man is being crossed off a few Christmas Party lists.
In a separate interview with Movieline, he took on Michael Bay, though his problems with the “Transformers” director are more political and somehow more measured. “Look, I just don’t like the Michael Bay movies and I’m sure I won’t like the new ‘Transformers’ movie,” he says. “I think there is a very combative, patriotic thing behind the Michael Bay movies which is what I hated in ‘Pearl Harbor‘ and other movies like this. It’s just, for me, over the top… The thing is, in Bay’s movies, it comes across as [the U.S.A.] is always right. As a European, you get sensitive. You get like, ‘No, you’re not always right. You were wrong with the Iraq war. You were wrong in Afghanistan. You are wrong now bombing Libya. It’s just wrong.’ In Syria, the guy killed everybody and we do nothing. In Libya, Qaddafi killed 20 people in the last 10 years and we’re bombing him. It’s absurd.”
While we may not agree with Dr. Boll, we will acknowledge that he certainly has a right to produce cinema that offers one of (hopefully) many counterpoints to big, empty blockbusters like “Transformers” or more measured, meditative material like “The Tree of Life.” Boll may overstep his boundaries (“retard”) but the cinematic world needs more expressive voices that offer strong counterpoints to the public’s acceptance of Michael Bay movies, or the critical intelligencia’s embrace of “The Tree of Life,” if only to diversify our discourse. The hope is for more eloquence and class next time around, though this might be asking much from the director of “Darfur” and “Auschwitz.”