Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Now on Amazon Prime: Knight of Cups (2016)

Knight of Cups movie poster
Knight of Cups (2016) - Written and Directed by Terrence Malick; Starring Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Brian Dennehy, Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Wes Bentley, Imogen Poots.

By Kenny Howell

Through a good portion of Knight of Cups, I wondered what it would be like for someone who was standing by watching the characters of the film.

They would stand in awe or maybe confusion, wondering why the characters are rarely saying anything to each other, but instead walking around each other slowly and occasionally touching, not to mention a little strange dance move of some sort every once in awhile. "Why can't they just stand still and talk to one another," the onlooker might ask.

That is just one of many tropes Terrence Malick has leaned on, and ones which I have defended in the past. But after his last film, To the Wonder, and this one, it's hard to defend it anymore. He has become a parody of himself. His characters love to go to the beach. The camera loves to follow them as they free-spiritedly dance around their surroundings, being all weird and stuff. The story is told mostly in voice over, some of it relevant, some of it nonsensical. The only thing missing this time is excessive shots of walking in tall grass. That has been replaced by the streets of Los Angeles.

This is the third in a sort of autobiographical trilogy from Malick that started with the excellent The Tree of Life, but got worse with the small To the Wonder, and even worse with this one. Christian Bale (The Big Short) plays a writer who is lost, and tries to find himself. He does that by getting with lots of pretty women in rich locales throughout Los Angeles and Las Vegas. That's about it. He cycles through the women, and the movie ends.

Malick has always been an acquired taste, but that taste is getting harder to acquire. His grand, sweeping style doesn't work with smaller stories, and it has glaringly shown in last two films. He needs to reinvent himself, because he is a one of a kind talent. It just doesn't show in Knight of Cups.

Knight of Cups is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Rating: **

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