Wednesday, March 16, 2016

[Review] Knight of Cups

With his most recent run of Tree of Life, To the Wonder, and now Knight of Cups, Terrence Malick seems to be fully content with putting out glorified View-Master projects.

The film revolves around a Hollywood screenwriter (played by Christian Bale) and his escapades with various women, as they help him "find his place in the world." It's a loathsome point of view, especially within a setting that's already overly pretentious. There's hardly even any semblance of a coherent story here, and things have reached the point where the on-paper synopsis presents more detail than what the actual film conveys. It's the equivalent of someone having to explain their artwork to you because they're the only person who *gets* it. It also doesn't help that Knight of Cups is mostly dialogue free, except for some cryptic and disjointed voiceover narration.

To its credit, the film looks absolutely beautiful. Every single shot is gorgeous, perfectly framed, and filled with natural sunlight under evocative skies--Which makes it all the more frustrating that this thing is so narratively inept and frankly boring. The unconventional, fragmented editing is dressed as experimentalism, but this isn't pushing the medium into new places--it's robbing it of dimension, as well as emotion. And this makes it a painstakingly difficult two hours to sit through, and I got the impression that I could've just looked at a nice slideshow and saved a lot of time.

Knight of Cups is also a major waste of acting talent. Along with Christian Bale, the cast includes Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Imogen Poots, and more. The actors and actresses stare blankly into the abyss most of duration, like they're not even sure what they should be doing, let alone know what's going on in the first place. This aspect makes all the performances incredibly bland, to the point of being maddening.

Apparently Malick's next film is called Weightless, and well, at least it's a good descriptor of his recent work.


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