Saturday, March 12, 2016


Went to see Terrence Malick's latest with a friend who'd never seen one of Malick's movies before. It was at a theater that has a big bulletin board and pens and note size paper for customers to grade and comment on flicks. KNIGHT OF CUPS was the first ever I'd seen to get all F's! But my friend gave it an A+ and called it a "transcendental movie experience"...

For those who know Malick's work, as always it's better to experience it in a movie theater where it is framed and enlarged in the way the director made it. The images, as always in his movies, are works of art in themselves. And more and more, as in TREE OF LIFE, Malick tells whatever story he ekes out of his jump cuts and lingering landscape shots etc. mostly in images, with a dash of interior monologues for his characters that occasionally overlap into actually spoken dialogue.

Christian Bale plays a Hollywood screenwriter, but one who seems to be able to garner big paydays, unlike myself and others I knew during the years I was doing that. But we don't see him writing, just ruminating on the meaning of life, his life in particular. With flashbacks and possibly imaginary conversations with his father (played by an aging Brian Dennehy but with his usual power and authenticity) and his boyhood, as well as contemporary scenes with one of his brothers and an ex-wife and several lovers, the meaning is slow to take shape, some would say "if ever"...

But the camera angles and framing and images are worth the price of admission, as are the shots of Bale and the beautiful women in his character's life, played by Kate Blanchett, Freida Pinto (would have loved to seen both their roles much bigger), Imogen Poots, Teresa Palmer, Isabel Lucas, and the one casting misstep for my taste: Natalie Portman.  She does well with her few crying scenes, but her attempts at being romantically passionate or romantically lighthearted or even just someone in love fall way short for me.

Overall, if you can slow your mind down enough to dig all that KNIGHT OF CUPS has to offer (including a cameo of Peter Mattheissen talking about monks living in caves etc. and cameo voiceovers from long gone Charles Laughton and still here Ben Kingsley) and accept Malick's preciousness as, well, something precious, you might just feel the way my friend did.

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