Tuesday Snax

What's better than an Aussie puppy?
Huck, Jodi and Michael's latest addition. Me? Not jealous at all...

It’s been way too busy around here lately. But I got to meet Huck, the Aussie, on Sunday, and he was a dream. A fuzzy, razor-sharp-toothed dream. (I’d forgotten how much puppies, like babies, want to put everything in their mouths.) He belongs to Jodi and Michael, who brought him home just a week ago. When I stood up to reluctantly leave, he laid down on top of my boots and looked up at me. KILLING ME, PUPPY. KILLING ME. It took all my willpower not to pick him up, stuff him in my purse, and make a run for it.

Belated snax:

Best Photos of the Year 2011. So powerful. Warning: Some are violent/graphic/upsetting. But they’re all incredible. Especially #46! If you don’t see any other photo, at least get to #46. (Reuters)

“Pale Fire,” The Poem: Does It Stand Alone As a Masterpiece? It’s nice to have other people suss out the answers for you. Something I’ve been wondering since I read Pale Fire… (The New Yorker)

Unremembered Celebrity Couples. This is pretty interesting. Who knew that Brad Pitt and Thandie Newton were a thing? Ashton Kutcher and January Jones?? (Retronaut)

Hate Actually. Snarky critic makes some good points about why “Love Actually” isn’t such a great film after all. (The Hairpin)

Printable Holiday Gift Tags: All Free! Get on this. This is what I’ve been using for all of my presents this year. (How About Orange)

Inside the Sketchbooks of the World’s Greatest Type Designers. In another life, this would have been my vocation. (The Atlantic)

Come Together. All I’m thinking is: Why didn’t we have this brilliant idea for our Christmas card? (Awkward Family Photos)

The way of nature, the way of grace

Last night, Guion and I went on a date and saw Terrence Malick’s highly anticipated and highly regarded new film, “The Tree of Life.” It’s been a long time since I saw a film in the theater, and whoa. What an experience. Jonathan and I have been talking about it since before it came out and we’d been exchanging reviews and our own thoughts and guesses about what the film might be like. “The Tree of Life” stretched patience and attention, but it exceeded my expectations.

I’m not even going to attempt to write about the film as a whole, because I do not think I am capable of such a task, but I’ll share a few lasting impressions.

Early in the film, a voiceover from Jessica Chastain, who plays the mother, explains that in life we must choose between “the way of nature or the way of grace.” Her character clearly chooses the way of grace, living in compassion and kindness toward all people and living things. She is ethereal, charming swallowtail butterflies in the yard, and she is generous with love, cradling her sons in the aftermath of their father’s vengeance.

It is tempting, therefore, to characterize Brad Pitt, who plays the strict father, as embodying “the way of nature.” He lives by a harsh code of perfectionism and demands such high standards from his sons. But Guion and I agreed that Malick didn’t cave to such an easy dichotomy. Pitt’s character grows in complexity over the course of the film. He is not purely the villain. Though it is not his first instinct, Father is also capable of choosing the way of grace.

Overall, “The Tree of Life” struck me as a visually rich epic poem: A series of meaningful images strung together to create a deep, moving whole. Those who need linear plots in art will be immensely frustrated by this movie. Malick isn’t trying to tell you a story; he’s trying to show you the creation of the universe.

Malick, who previously taught philosophy at Ivy League universities, asks all the big questions. Is God watching us? Does God care what we do? Why are we here? The questions are asked directly, often by the protagonist, the son Jack, who grows up to be Sean Penn. Jack and his mother weave their prayers throughout their lives. It is a film, simply, about God. And God’s involvement (or lack of involvement) in the creation and sustenance of Earth and all its inhabitants.

We left the theater hushed, speechless. I was hesitant to speak. I saw the moon disfigured by the clouds and thought about the glory of God in a way that I had not done in a long time. I could be wrong, but I think that’s what Malick was hoping I would do.

Fly… fisherman

Guion and I watched “A River Runs Through It” the other night. I had never seen it before, and would have actually been somewhat indifferent toward it, except for this:

Brad Pitt as Paul McLean in "A River Runs Through It."

Previously, I had not really joined the other 97 percent of the female population in their idolization of Brad, but, I have to say, young Mr. Pitt was quite winning in this mediocre movie. I mean, just look at that face. SO young! So irresistibly cute. Guion scowled whenever he came on the screen. So I made sure to kiss him a LOT that night.

Also: Today I realized that there is a young woman who works here who actually looks just like him. Yes. It’s kind of upsetting? But she’s very pretty… in a Brad Pitt kind-of-way.

In other more cheerful news, Angela is coming down from D.C. to stay with us tonight! I can’t wait. We also have a slew of holiday parties and gatherings before we head back South for the holidays.

(And, Grace: I’ve started doing yoga again in the morning, because I might be dying.)