I saw Knight of Cups on Sunday, written and directed by Terence Malick. An evocative filmmaker, he seems to be more interested in impressionistic movies these days, after not having made a film for years. Though it wasn't to everyone's taste, I quite liked his previous movie, Tree of Life, which was more a cinematic version of a classical music tone poem. Knight of Cups is in the same vein. A few random thoughts.
I really admire that someone can get to the point in their career where they will get the funding and be allowed to make pretty much whatever they want.
I also always admire when artists try something different. When they succeed, it's a moving experience. But even when they fail, it may push the art form. And even at the least, they deserve big points for the effort.
There is a lot in Knight of Cups that is absolutely wonderful -- the cinematography is beautiful and riveting, and the production design is often breathtaking.
All that is truly great. Seriously. And that's about it. The drop-off (for my taste) is precipitous.
I found it pretentious and empty.
I think I know what Malick was trying to say. And good for him. But we got the point about three minutes in, and even at that the point wasn't very substantive.
There are about four lines of dialogue in the trailer which I'll post below. You will then have seen the bulk of the dialogue. Most of the script is pontificating voice-over commentary by the various characters, mostly by the lead Christian Bale, who a very successful, but unhappy Hollywood screenwriter. And all of it near-whispered at a pace..that...is...SO...slow...as...to...try...to...be...SO...meaningful. But it is not meaningful, it...is...just...slow. And pedantic.
The film is broken into sort of chapters, with title cards like "The Tower" and "Freedom" and "The High Priestess." Beyond that I can't tell you more because I have no idea what most of them meant.
Christian Bale's character has many relationships throughout the film with incredibly beautiful women, he is very successful and quite wealthy. I understand that just because you are involved with many beautiful woman, have success and money that doesn't mean you will be happy or satisfied. But the film never really explains why he is unhappy and dissatisfied. Just that he is. So, it's near-impossible to empathize with him. Or even particularly sympathize with him.
We see a lot of shots of the sky an airplanes flying across, though sometimes for a bit of change we see a helicopter.
There were a lot of sequences filmed at Death Valley National Park, which I've been to several times and love, and so recognized here..
It would have made an extremely interesting, experimental 25-minute short. Though still a little pretentious, but worthy.
Again, the cinematography and production design are tremendous, and big points for trying something different. Well, different from most films, not his last one.
At two hours, I give myself a lot of credit for making it through. Huzzah!
And so those are my random thoughts. Come to think of it, that's sort of in the spirit of the film, although I think mine are perhaps a bit more connected to one another.
Here's the trailer. If the movie were this length it would have been too short, but still might have been okay,
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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