By Andrew Harwood

A new year, the exact same series. Welcome back, cinephiles. 

For the most part, this series has focused on the larger genres of film. From comedies to thrillers, mysteries to film noir. So, this week, let’s change that. 

Film — more or less — is conveyed through textbook rules. Typically, film is held together by a narrative story, character-arc, conflict and resolution. In all, film is strictly a straightforward form of art. 

Regardless, though, there exist those who don’t play by the rules. These rebels fall into what is referred to as “experimental film.” With the moniker “avant-garde film,” it can be defined as a form of filmmaking that daringly re-evaluates cinematic customs. 

Characterized by non-linear narratives, abstract editing, minimal sound and displeasing imagery, “experimental films” are, to say the least, unique. Think of David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive,” Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless,” Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Lobster,” Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York” and, our film for the week, Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life.” 

Written and directed by Malick himself, “The Tree of Life” chronicles the story of a middle-aged man’s childhood in 1950s Texas intermixed with imagery of the origin of the universe and life on Earth. Confused? Good. 

Epic in it’s storytelling, dramatic through it’s images, heartfelt in it’s characters and daring in its study on humanity’s way of life, “The Tree of Life” is a philosophical crash-course on mankind.

Highlighted through sensation, sounds and images, with just a simple underlying yet indistinct plot, “The Tree of Life” begs the viewer to say to themselves, “make of this as you will.” 

“The Tree of Life,” released in 2011, is an experimental picture like no other with moving performances from Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chaistan and Tye Sheridan.