Circe by Madeline Miller (♦♦♦♦)

Granddaughter of Oceanus, daughter of Titan Helios and sea nymph Perseid, Circe was different from the start. While her siblings discovered their unique gifts very early on and gained their independence—either by claiming their inheritance, like Perses and Aëstes, or by marriage to a wealthy demigod, like Pasiphäe—, Circe remained among her family in the halls of the gods. Her love for young fisherman Glaucus changed everything. Circe used a potion to transform Glaucus into a worthy suitor. Glaucus, seeing his station changed, fell in love with one Circe’s cousins, a sea nymph named Scylla. Out of jealousy, Circe put a potion on Scylla’s bath and, unintendedly, transformed her into a monster. Circe’s confession forced Helios to go to see Zeus, for witchcraft is something that gods fear can tip the balance of power. Zeus declared an eternal banishment for Circe from the halls of the gods to the island of Aiaia.

Exile was not easy but, as Circe learned, it had its advantages; being away f…

The Tree of Life (♦♦♦)

A couple (Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain) with three children begins to question God and the meaning of life after a family tragedy sends them reeling. The movie is divided into two parts, however invisibly. The first part of the film is about the tragedy and the questioning of life’s purpose. The second part is about the family dynamics when the kids were growing up, from a carefree mother to an overbearing father. The questioning reappears again in the end as one of the children, now an adult, examines his existence.

This movie seems extremely long despite running for 138 minutes. It is short on dialogs. The first part is a visual feast of nature’s most spectacular events on Earth and in space, resembling documentaries from the Discovery Channel. The second part of the movie seems incoherent, in relation to the first, providing hardly any answers to the questions posed. The oldest child obviously feels closer to her mother, sometimes wishing his father dead, but his resentment appears to predate his father’s violent outbursts.

Overall, this film is long, overwhelming, yet strikingly beautiful.