November 18, 2011
Tree of Life
JAMIE DOUCETTE News Editor
On Nov. 8, the final installment of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, was released after years of anticipation from its fiercely loyal fans. The fourth book in the series, titled “Inheritance,” stays true to the themes of adventure, identity and coming-of-age. The cycle follows a boy named Eragon and his dragon Saphira as they journey across the land of Alagaësia in an attempt to kill the evil
King Galbatorix. Fans of the series will not be disappointed with “Inheritance,” which does an impressive job of concluding the many branching storylines of the series. Beloved characters are all afforded their due attention, and the novel contains a satisfying amount of sword fighting and magic. It remains nuanced and tells an immense story without ever feeling rushed or abridged. The first hundred pages feel somewhat slow, but the story builds momentum as it progresses, bringing the familiar and exciting pace present in the first novels. As with the other books in the series, there are times when descriptions meander and the narrative briefly loses focus. Casual dialogue intermittently feels contrived or unnatural. Occasionally, seemingly irresolvable challenges are circumvented by heavy-handed deus ex machina. Always considered unremarkable in his fundamental writing, Paolini nevertheless has a truly fantastic story to tell. The conclusion of the “Inheritance” is undoubtedly a noteworthy contribution to modern fantasy. If you are one of the many who have invested your time in the thousands of pages in the cycle, this is the conclusion you are looking for.
ONE OF MALICK’S NATURE SCENES: He depicts a metaphorical change between reality and subconsciousness. BRIAN DRUMMEY Focus Editor
Before hearing about “The Tree of Life,” I stumbled upon its trailer online. Consisting of a few dramatic voiceovers and random scenes from the middle of the movie, it didn’t introduce a clear storyline. Although it was nondescript, it proved to be an accurate indicator of the film’s stylistic elements by providing a sample of the breathtaking scenery and dramatic classical score. Sean Penn fans will be disappointed by his misleading presence in the trailer because his uninspired performance in the movie only lasts about 10 minutes. Twenty minutes in, the “storyline” breaks into a 15-minute nature montage à la National Geographic. Asteroids, dinosaurs, jellyfish and intergalactic sensations inexplicably fill the screen. In interviews, director Terrence Malick explained that these phenomena symbolize life, death and contemplation, important ideas presented in the film’s introduction. Once past the bizarre, psychedelic intro, the actual narrative begins. Hunter McCracken plays young Jack, who seems like a normal 12-year-old boy, throwing rocks, swimming with friends and doing household chores. But his authoritarian father proves to be Jack’s source of pain and suffering, causing him to question his self-worth at a young age. Only briefly is he reprieved from his father’s wrath, at which time his mother fills the void with her optimism. Jessica Chastain shines as this angelic counterpart to Brad Pitt’s overbearing father figure.
Penn’s limited role in the film is as Jack’s modern day self. Uttering only a few lines early on, he becomes an aimless wanderer through his alltoo-real life in the city and through metaphorical desolate landscapes. He represents the detrimental effects that his father had on his 12-year-old psyche. Though religion and its relationship to Jack is a major theme, there is no bible-thumping or scripture-reading; Malick instead allows the viewer to interpret it as they choose. The film is an aesthetic masterpiece unlike anything I’ve ever seen. At times, it is comparable to the floating mountain sequences in James Cameron’s Avatar, but with real footage. Using some simple flyover shots of actual scenery, Malick captures the serene aspect of nature, but his unorthodox (and old-fashioned) special effects are perhaps the most breathtaking. An unorthodox man himself, he defies all modern technological advances by using paint, smoke and high-speed cameras to reenact galactic and atomic phenomena. At times I was unsure what I was watching, but it was so extraordinary that it had me hooked. Compared favorably to “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “The Tree of Life” attempts not to tell a story or prove a point, but as Roger Ebert puts it, “encompass all of existence and view it through the prism of a few infinitesimal lives.” For the cynic, this will be the longest two hours of your life. However, those able to embrace this unique perspective will thoroughly enjoy Malick’s journey.
Asteroids, dinosaurs, jellyfish and intergalactic sensations inexplicably fill the screen.
Concert Calendar Father, Son, Holy Ghost
SARAH GUINEE Features Editor
11/19- Rainn Wilson at Paramount 11/26-Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Key Arena 12/02- Uncle Kracker at Emerald Queen Casino 12/02- The Kooks at Showbox at the Market
12/05- Sting at Paramount 12/16- Jay-Z and Kanye West at Tacoma Dome
Following their diverse self-titled debut album and a sprawling EP, Girls take us on a journey through the soul with their beautifully odd and eccentric second album, “Father, Son, Holy Ghost.” The new record from the San Francisco duo of Chris Owens and Chet White combines elements from across the musical spectrum, making it one of the year’s most enthralling albums. Each track differs from the last, as the album journeys through rock, pop, techno and every genre in between in just 11 songs. From the excited and jumpy opening track “Honey Bunny,” which pops with alternative flare, to the somber, sweet “Vomit,” the slow powerful climax, Girls’ new album is an audio treat. Avid listeners will notice the in-
fluence of Pink Floyd, David Bowie and other Space Rock groups. This not only makes every track diverse but also brings back fond memories of the first time you ever listened to “Dark Side of the Moon,” old David Bowie and other music of that caliber. “Father, Son, Holy Ghost” is easy to recommend to fans of Girls’ previous recordings, those looking to hear diverse and calm Space Rock reminiscent of the seventies and anyone looking for something out of the ordinary. Girls’ second album will take listeners on a journey through rock and roll history as each new song transports us into the hearts and minds of the artists. It not only accepts the influence from rock and roll’s golden age, it embraces it, making it an effortless pick for anyone’s best album of the year so far.
12/04- Reel Big Fish & Streetlight at King Cat Theatre
SCOTT BOWERS Staff Artist
GIRLS: Chris Owens and Chet “JR” White.