Malick’s “Tree,” with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, unlikely to bloom before 2011

By Sean O’Connell Someone – and I forget who, or else I’d credit them directly – posted on Twitter that director Terrence Malick could only add to the mystery surrounding his anticipated “Tree of Life” (as well as his own unpredictable legacy) if he up and decided to never release the film.

At this point, I’m willing to believe that might come to pass.

In an interesting missive posted at Indiewire, Todd McCarthy mentioned Malick as he described the rigorous selection process for this year’s New York Film Festival.

According to McCarthy, Malick’s film was promised. Of course, festival organizers for Cannes, Venice, Toronto and beyond have heard similar promises. And the director stood all of them up.

“All through our recent two weeks in the dark, we received periodic updates and tentative promises about the imminent arrival of the film for us to view; even well into the second week we were still being thus tantalized,” McCarthy writes. “Finally, of course, came word that Malick was still not done and it now seems clear the picture will not be opening this year.”

That bit of news shifts around my Oscar charts, which saved a tentative slot for Malick.

Why the anticipation? Well, Malick’s one of the last true auteurs working in film these days. He doesn’t work often, but when he motivates, he attracts serious talent. Brad Pitt and Sean Penn star in “Tree,” which IMDB says is about a family growing up in the 1950s who experience a loss of innocence.

The thing about “Tree” is that Malick already has said he’s going to begin shooting his next picture in October. Ben Affleck and Rachel Weisz have been attached to what is currently known as “Untitled Terrence Malick Project.”

Would be begin filming his next picture before “Tree” sees the light of day? It’s very possible. McCarthy speculates, “We won’t be seeing ‘The Tree of Life’ until, at the earliest, the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Or perhaps it could turn up at the New York Film Festival a year from now.”

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