Review: Knight of Cups

By Christian DiMartino

Terrence Malick is one of the greatest filmmakers alive, but yet it is fairly obvious that his films aren’t for everyone. As brilliant as the man is, he’s always been a tough sell kind of guy. Take The Tree of Life, for example. It’s a beautiful, ambitious masterpiece. Some people saw it as such. Others threw up their arms in frustration, and asked for their money back.

His films, while acclaimed, have been known to divide people. I admit that, even though I am a die-hard fan, even I have been divided by some of his films. Days of Heaven, which many consider his finest, is a film that I couldn’t connect with, even though I sensed a great film in their. His latest film, Knight of Cups (out Mar. 4), will also divide. I liked it, but again, it is sort of hard to connect with.

The title refers to a tarot card, and the film is told in different sections that coincide with the cards. It revolves around a film producer named Rick (Christian Bale), and it basically shows him and the people who pass through his life. Such people include his ex-wife (Cate Blanchett), his brother (Wes Bentley) and father (with who has seems to have a rough relationship with), and the many women (Imogen Poots, Teresa Palmer, Natalie Portman) who he fancies.

If there is one thing that can be said about any Malick film, it’s that they all have beautiful cinematography. Like with his past three films, he has two time Oscar-winner Emmanuel Lubezki in his corner, and the cinematography in this film is so beautiful, it is one of the main reasons why I enjoyed it. Malick and Lubezki bring out real beauty in locations such as Vegas and Los Angeles. They recognize the beauty of the world, and they do their best to capture it. Job well done. The film also features a perfect score from Hanen Townshend, another Malick regular.

Yeah, there’s not really much in the way of story. It is kind of difficult to connect with some of these characters, mostly because it is a bit vague. But I like the way that Malick tells his story. Like with The Thin Red LineThe New WorldThe Tree of Life, and To the Wonder, he has just about every character narrate at some point, to give us a feel for what their feeling. It’s always been an interesting technique, but an effective one. I also just kind of like the simplicity, and the way that these characters just sort of come and go.

It also helps to have such great actors on board. Granted, not all of them get a lot to do, and here and there, there are just a few too many scenes of these pretty people just staring. But when they get their day, it’s worth it.

So I’m not telling you you’ll like Knight of Cups. If you haven’t seen a Malick film, or hate them, then really just stay away. People will hate this film, I guarantee it. I liked it, because if any filmmaker can make a movie seem like an artform, it’s Malick, and here he’s painted such a beautiful tapestry. Granted, his reach does exceed his grasp. But his reach is something to admire.

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