Author Topic: Knight of Cups  (Read 11732 times)

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ElPandaRoyal

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Re: Knight of Cups
« Reply #60 on: March 02, 2016, 05:29:09 PM »
+1
That was funny! One thing that keeps popping in my head, and it maybe just happened because I saw this the same week the Oscars happened, but after a few days of people talking about all the Hollywood glamour bullshit, here is a movie that gets some amazing, beautiful shots around Hollywood and beautiful people to be in it, and completely de-glamourizes everything. It's the saddest beauty I think I've ever seen. Did I like the movie? I don't know, and I don't really care. I'm just glad I've seen it.
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Re: Knight of Cups
« Reply #61 on: March 03, 2016, 04:50:30 AM »
+1
Definitely a cool insight into Malick's process. I do like the idea of Malick's style focused on Hollywood, seems like a nice change from the typical sublime sort of stuff he works with. Suddenly interested in watching this again.
There's somthing so fascinating about the process- I mean, typically you have a scene where a moment is created, staged and observed but with Malick- you get the feeling that the moment has always existed and luckily enough someone was there to capture it.

Also, damn, that Tears for Fears thing never fails to impress me. It should be official.

Just Withnail

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Re: Knight of Cups
« Reply #62 on: March 03, 2016, 05:22:00 AM »
+2
For me, as interesting as it is reading about the process, I think it might have ruined a lot of the experience of these last couple of films of his. I feel like I can tell actors have little idea of what they're doing, often emoting without a feeling that it comes from within the character. Like I said a few pages back (or in another thread?), after Tree of Life I wanted Malick to go further and further into twirly-territory, to push his form to the boundaries of abstraction and find intensity of emotion in these violent juxtapositions that he used to do so well.

Since his form was recently hovering so close it felt like there could be very interesting possibilities for him there. But as he's actually gone more towards abstraction the intensity has been replaced by a flatness for me. The images don't seem to crash anymore, and I feel like he's lost a grounding in character that I now feel was a very important reason why his previous films work. The form has become so washed out now, saying the same thing over and over (both from film to film and within each film), and the additions to his pallet of the various digital cameras and an urban setting, that could have welcomed back this intensity of form, instead become just cosmetic additions.

Bah, I'll stop talking now, this was a lot of negativity. One day I'll write about the things I do like about it.
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Re: Knight of Cups
« Reply #63 on: March 03, 2016, 02:05:16 PM »
0
This is all true.

Drenk

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Re: Knight of Cups
« Reply #64 on: March 03, 2016, 03:34:45 PM »
+1
I loved how this movie showed the character walking inside his own memories. It felt like watching LA as if I were remembering the town. I've never been to LA. It's thin on character, but less than To the Wonder: I liked Bale's journey. That man is stuck. Sometimes, the movie is, too. But never too much. I liked it, a lot...
After disliking To the Wonder a lot, I'm glad to see that Malick's new method doesn't only propose what seems like auto-parody—to me, at least. And I'm very curious to see the next one.
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jenkins

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Re: Knight of Cups
« Reply #65 on: March 03, 2016, 04:14:27 PM »
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completely de-glamourizes everything. It's the saddest beauty I think I've ever seen. Did I like the movie? I don't know, and I don't really care. I'm just glad I've seen it.

I mean, typically you have a scene where a moment is created, staged and observed but with Malick- you get the feeling that the moment has always existed and luckily enough someone was there to capture it.

a flatness for me. The images don't seem to crash anymore, and I feel like he's lost a grounding in character

I loved how this movie showed the character walking inside his own memories. It felt like watching LA as if I were remembering the town.

i like remembering the manufacturing of ourselves as characters is part of the illusion we create for ourselves. Seinfeld and Obama chat this topic in Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. movies are reflections of reality, characters are reflections of reality, and reality is this strange thing in the center (which no one appears able to control).

monadism, which has been crawling through my mind recently, it's a philosophical perspective on metaphysics. it's not wrong to say that Malick brings philosophical game. this is an example of a philosophical perspective that could so easily welcome Malick with open arms:

Quote
Philosophical conclusions

This theory leads to:

1. Idealism, since it denies things in themselves (besides monads) and multiplies them in different points of view. Monads are “perpetual living mirrors of the universe.”

2. Metaphysical optimism, through the principle of sufficient reason, developed as follows:

a) Everything exists according to a reason (by the axiom "Nothing arises from nothing");

b) Everything which exists has a sufficient reason to exist;

c) Everything which exists is better than anything non-existent (by the first point: since it is more rational, it also has more reality), and, consequently, it is the best possible being in the best of all possible worlds (by the axiom: "That which contains more reality is better than that which contains less reality").

description of monads:
Quote
they are eternal, indecomposable, individual, subject to their own laws, un-interacting, and each reflecting the entire universe in a pre-established harmony (a historically important example of panpsychism). [...] Monads are centers of force; substance is force, while space, matter, and motion are merely phenomenal.

i'm not trying to generate a conversation on monads, i'm not a scholar on this topic, or attempting to provide a concrete perspective on this movie.  it's that what i hear about this movie overlaps with current thoughts of me. that's a Malick talent indeed. recently i've been thinking of characters as vehicles for stories, our lives not being the stories we turn them into. i think character creation has its pros/cons, and humans have another larger story for themselves (which no one appears able to control).

so it's that hearing about this movie revs up my motor, makes me excited. thanks.
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Just Withnail

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Re: Knight of Cups
« Reply #66 on: March 05, 2016, 08:31:13 AM »
+1
I don't so much criticise the lack of character creation and the lack of story per se, but the way it's handled. Like I said, I very much wanted him to go further towards abstraction, and with that I fully expected his characters to go even more towards archetypal territory, becoming less classically character-psychologically realist. But I feel the road he takes to get there, makes all the emotion happen on the surface of the actors, making me see the acting rather than the feel the function of the emotions.

To go with the theme of not being in control, that you mention: to me it seems all to controlled, ironically. Not by the director, but by the actors. It feels like he's created an environment where he delegates all the control and responsibility to them (leaving many of them frustrated), and the randomness of his cards. To be sure, this goes excellently together with the theme of lack of control that you mention, and it could work as a metaphor for this. But a side-effect is that I see all too often when the actors are emoting, just because. I don't see a character who is in lack of control of his emotions or destiny, but an actor who in a very controlled and willed way forces out an emotion, now.

Compare the people who inhabit Malicks latest films, with say, the people in a Béla Tarr film, who deals with similar themes of cosmic alienation and lack of control over ones fate but often in an incredibly controlled, choreographed way. Tarr's characters can be similarly archetypal, we can be given mere snippets of information about them, and often they talk only in poetic monologues, like with Malick. But they always feel like they have a life outside the frame, and their emotions feel like they come from the inside. The display of utterly chaotic life and surrender to emotion seen in the long dance sequence in Satantango, in a completely fixed frame, contains to me a much stronger image of lack of control than anything in Knight of Cups.

Apples and oranges, to be sure, and one does not negate the other, but this is just to say that controlling the process can create a masterpiece about lack of control, and lack of control in the process doesn't necessarily translate into a good film about lack of control.

But, yes, again, I'm glad this movie exists.
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Just Withnail

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Re: Knight of Cups
« Reply #67 on: March 10, 2016, 04:27:30 AM »
0
So when I say I actually like thinking about this film, reading pieces like these only amplifies that:


Terrence Malick’s “Knight of Cups” Challenges Hollywood to Do Better
BY RICHARD BRODY

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/terrence-malicks-knight-of-cups-challenges-hollywood-to-do-better

Perhaps no film in the history of cinema follows the movement of memory as faithfully, as passionately, or as profoundly as Terrence Malick’s new film, “Knight of Cups.” It’s an instant classic in several genres—the confessional, the inside-Hollywood story, the Dantesque midlife-crisis drama, the religious quest, the romantic struggle, the sexual reverie, the family melodrama—because the protagonist’s life, like most people’s lives, involves intertwined strains of activity that don’t just overlap but are inseparable from each other. The movie runs less than two hours and its focus is intimate, but its span seems enormous—not least because Malick has made a character who’s something of an alter ego, and he endows that character with an artistic identity and imagination as vast and as vital as his own.

As such, “Knight of Cups” is one of the great recent bursts of cinematic artistry, a carnival of images and sounds that have a sensual beauty, of light and movement, of gesture and inflection, rarely matched in any movie that isn’t Malick’s own. Here, he—and his cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki—surpass themselves. Where “The Tree of Life” is filled with memories, is even about memory, “Knight of Cups” is close to a first-person act of remembering, and the ecstatic power of its images and sounds is a virtual manifesto, and confession, of the cinematic mind at work. It’s a mighty act of self-portraiture in dramatic action and in directorial creation. And because “Knight of Cups” is about the world of movie-making itself and is set mainly in and around Hollywood, it’s also a vision of the modern world, the world of inescapable images and of their dubious demiurges, of whom the movie’s protagonist, a screenwriter named Rick (played by Christian Bale), is one.

At the beginning of the film, Rick is trying to remember: he recalls, in voice-over, as if addressing his father, a legend about a knight whose father sent him out West in search of treasure—and who, there, was served a drink that made him forget his quest, his origins, himself. The “West” for Rick and the movie is Los Angeles. He has been there for thirty years and feels lost—specifically, feels not like a whole person but like “fragments—pieces of a man” (a marvelous echo of Gil Scott-Heron’s 1971 album). Surfacing from a Lethe of his own making, Rick wants to remember, and it’s one of the movie’s majestic paradoxes that his desire to make himself whole involves not an artificial synthesis from the start but the acceptance of fragments—of incidents, experiences, episodes, impressions—from which their own unifying principle will arise. “Knight of Cups” is Rick’s act of remembering, and it follows the strange double logic of memory—the triggering efforts of willful thought and the free-flowing associations of the unconscious mind.

Between a snippet from “Pilgrim’s Progress” announcing the vision of a dream and some intertitles derived from tarot cards (and there’s a brief scene of a card reading, in Serbian, to bring the theme into action), Malick offers the slightest hint of metaphor to fleeting moments, to visions and sounds that bring pieces of Rick’s latter-day life (as well as flashes of childhood) rushing ahead with an irrepressible energy. The movie organizes itself around several intimate dramas, especially one that recurs throughout the film, the furious and violent bond that Rick has with his father (Brian Dennehy) and brother (Wes Bentley), as well as the death of a third (unseen) brother, which stokes their agony and rage to white heat.

It turns out that the main incidents in Rick’s life, as he sees it, are his relationships with women—some that are bonds of obvious emotional depth, such as his marriage to a doctor (Cate Blanchett), with whom he didn’t have children, to his regret, and his fiercely tender relationship with a married woman (Natalie Portman), and others that are obviously more fleeting, as with an undefined Hollywood starlet (Imogen Poots), a model (Freida Pinto), and a pole dancer (Teresa Palmer).

But, crucially to Malick’s sensibility, these latter characters are at least as sharply lucid about their own lives and about their relationships to Rick as are characters of apparently greater intellectual achievement. The dancer speaks insightfully to Rick about her work and its place in her life, as well as in his own, and Rick recalls her with admiration—as he does the starlet, seemingly a lighthearted playgirl of no obvious professional accomplishment, who nails his heart to the wall when telling him, “You don’t want love, you want a love experience.”

Rick has also had several one-night (or one-day) stands, even a casual threesome, and the movie flickers, intermittently, with his brief recollection of sexual pleasure and the sensual, visual pleasure that goes with it—albeit with an inhibited man’s wistful, slightly self-satirizing detachment mingling delight and regret. (What an idea: that several women with whom Rick had flings years ago should still somehow loom large in his memory years later, and with frank—yet reticently abashed—delight in their bodies! Let other critics throw the first stone.)

Hollywood is a party scene, and Rick has taken part in its revelry. There’s only a little bit of time spent on the business of movies—a few brief meetings with executives, a moment on a set alongside a horse—but lots of time recalling the social side of Hollywood, from vaguely erotic frolics to a formal industry bash where Antonio Banderas, Ryan O’Neal, and Bruce Wagner turn up. (Banderas delivers the movie’s exemplary Hollywood-asshole line, explaining that he changes women as if they were flavors of ice cream.) There’s a relaxed Las Vegas disco party, where Rick has trouble relaxing. Malick doesn’t depict Rick as a man of woe but as an introvert thrust into an extrovert’s playground, as someone who has trouble throwing himself wholeheartedly into the throng because he has the habit of standing back from the event even while within it. (As the model played by Pinto tells Rick, “You told me that sometimes you felt like a spy, always had to pretend.”) An intellectual near-prude who may never have gone near a strip club before getting to Hollywood, an ambivalent party-goer, not a man of the night life, Rick is watching the events from afar, and also seeing himself there, with some embarrassment—and, all the while, he’s filled with images, not ones that he’s actively composing but ones that compose themselves in his mind.

That very vision of spontaneous inner creation is at the core of the film. Lubezki has won Oscars three years in a row—twice for his work with Alejandro González Iñárritu and, before that, for filming Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity,” a trio of films in which he normalizes, rationalizes, and banalizes the boundary-breaking styles that he developed with Malick (it’s like giving Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar for “The Revenant” rather than for “The Wolf of Wall Street”). Where, for Iñárritu and Cuarón, Lubezki provides a mere adornment to their narrative, for Malick he creates a new way of cinematic seeing—because Malick himself creates a new mode of directing.

For Malick, the cinema is also a matter of the unconscious, of indeterminacy, of tension between decision and accident. Most of the movie’s images are done with a handheld camera, and most of them involve so much motion, on the part of the actors and the camera alike, that they would defy, in the rapidity of their complexity, any attempt to calibrate them in advance to the exact framing and composition. Malick creates the circumstances under which Lubezki can make these images; Lubezki, untethered to storyboards, roaming freely around and past the action, collects images that embody Malick’s ideas and emotions without being overdetermined by his intentions.

These images, brilliant and radiant with a love of light, rapturous with a love of motion, bring to the cinema a big and great idea: the overcoming of the distinction between subject and object, between recording and imagination. The images are both of and from Rick, showing the practicalities of his experience, his sensory apprehension of them, and his inward visual projection of them at the same time, in the same shot.

No less important than the images is the freedom with which Malick edits them. Recognizing that the memorable things that people say aren’t necessarily memorable moments of life, Malick separates the image and the sound, including snippets of synchronized dialogue along with snippets of voice-overs, turning the words themselves into images. He separates scenes into nodules of dramas that unleash their implications in flashes packed with imaginative potential. The full version of “Knight of Cups,” unfolded in the familiar styles of dialogue-centered dramatic scenes in chronological order, would be a multivolume monster.

Yet, in another sublime paradox, this very dramatic compression and abstraction renders the remarkable cast’s performances all the more powerful. Malick moves them into a middle ground between the theatrical and the existential. The actors are neither leached of expression in undefined situations nor composing continuously psychological characterizations. Rather, Malick creates an acting style that’s in between, filled with dramatic power but rooted in how they move, how they talk, how their glances flash. Malick’s incisively fragmented and recomposed editing emphasizes the actors’ strongest and most emblematic moments. He turns the fluid frames into mnemonic spaces of movement, gesture, and inflection that burn them into consciousness exactly as they’re burned into Rick’s, and into Malick’s own.

“Knight of Cups” is also very much a Los Angeles movie, and it features some of the most aesthetically ambivalent architectural modernism since Antonioni’s heyday. In “The Tree of Life,” skyscrapers mocked the ambition and marked the alienation of the protagonist, whereas, in “Knight of Cups,” Rick can’t help delighting in the soaring forms and shining light of the modern city, from its glass-and-steel towers and marble halls to the lights and lines of the street as seen from the rush of the cars that he drives. (It’s no less a poem of Los Angeles—and of the view of the city from moving cars—than is Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere.”)

It’s a movie of the many cities in one—a city of seemingly limitless luxury and almost supernatural refinement, as in a glisteningly white, cavernous, and ornate Versailles-like reception hall built like gilded whorls of whipped cream. There’s the natural paradise of the beach and the ocean, the inferno of cracked desert flats, and the wastelands of abandoned cottages and uninhabited hills. There’s the workaday face of the city, with its storefront closeups and its luminous nighttime streets; there’s crime and hardship, as in a scene where Rick’s brother takes him on a tour of the streets where he endured his own down-and-out days; there’s physical ruin, as in scenes of the hospital where Rick’s wife tends to patients who seem to suffer from grave maladies (perhaps even leprosy); and there’s the suave suburb where Rick and his wife lived—and the staff who keep it looking suave.

Within its lavishly overflowing beauty, “Knight of Cups” is an angrily prescriptive film, the contention of which is: the bullshit of Hollywood lives is reflected in the bullshit of Hollywood movies, including the ones that Malick has made. If filmmakers can make films in which they see that bullshit for themselves and let other people see it, too, they might well find a way both to live differently and to work differently.

The crucial question of the modern novel is memory—specifically, the tension between fiction and nonfiction, between the sharp-edged exclusivity of the contours of a finely crafted story and the loose-ended and associatively meandering and indeterminate formlessness of experience as captured (or trapped) in memory. That’s why the grand landmarks of literary modernity—such as those of Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Bellow, Hemingway, Faulkner, Duras, and the Roths (Henry and Philip)—are simultaneously struggles with the irrepressible profusion of memory and the hotly forged imperatives of style and idealizing abstractions of form. The cinema has lagged behind; some of its modernists—including Jean-Luc Godard and Chantal Akerman—have made mighty attempts to create a memory-cinema of a distinctive style. In “Knight of Cups,” Malick brings the effort to a full and radical flowering. No less than do these reflexive modernists, his contemporaries, Malick has made a movie about the possibility of making a movie, images that are the troubled source of a future cinema.

In its displaced confessional mode, “Knight of Cups” is about the kind of movie that filmmakers make when they’re being honest about their experience, and, at the same time, it is, itself, that kind of movie. They’ll have affairs; most people do, maybe especially in Hollywood. They’ll divorce; many people do, especially in Hollywood. There will be tough business deals and the allure of money; most will yield to it. Luxury is impressive, vulgarity is alluring, and the mighty and gleaming architectural and urbanistic modernity that runs on massive infusions of corporate money and government collusion—well, it can also be spectacularly beautiful. Nature is majestic and terrifying; the leisure to contemplate it is expensive. Physical and emotional pain is everywhere; poverty imposes specific and grievous agony, people who endure it are very nearby, and you’re likely to be upset by the sight of those who suffer from it—as you walk past them. Family relationships may suffer; that’s a sad commonplace. And there may well be a temptation to leave, to go home, or to go, at least, elsewhere. You are not likely to be an angel; it’s not part of the job description for being in the business, or, for that matter, for being an artist. But be honest about your experiences, about your failings—and about your enduring intimations of beauty even in places and situations that you’d hesitate to call beautiful, because the production of beauty in a world of suffering, and from your own suffering, is the closest thing to a higher calling that an artist has, the closest thing to the religious experience that art has to offer.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2016, 10:23:38 AM by Jeremy Blackman »
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jenkins

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Re: Knight of Cups
« Reply #68 on: March 10, 2016, 11:23:49 AM »
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Where “The Tree of Life” is filled with memories, is even about memory, “Knight of Cups” is close to a first-person act of remembering, and the ecstatic power of its images and sounds is a virtual manifesto, and confession, of the cinematic mind at work.

nice. i also liked when Drenk said this in his lovely French way.

Quote
Within its lavishly overflowing beauty, “Knight of Cups” is an angrily prescriptive film, the contention of which is: the bullshit of Hollywood lives is reflected in the bullshit of Hollywood movies, including the ones that Malick has made. If filmmakers can make films in which they see that bullshit for themselves and let other people see it, too, they might well find a way both to live differently and to work differently.

this is how i imagine i'd describe it if/when i see/saw this movie.

Quote
The crucial question of the modern novel is memory—specifically, the tension between fiction and nonfiction, between the sharp-edged exclusivity of the contours of a finely crafted story and the loose-ended and associatively meandering and indeterminate formlessness of experience as captured (or trapped) in memory.

"the tension between fiction and nonfiction" makes me dance.

apparently i like thinking about this film more than i like seeing it, although eventually i'll see it yeah.
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Re: Knight of Cups
« Reply #69 on: March 16, 2016, 10:05:24 PM »
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Matt Zoller Seitz has a lovely review:

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/knight-of-cups-2016
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jenkins

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Re: Knight of Cups
« Reply #70 on: March 30, 2016, 02:51:16 AM »
+1
does he begin by quoting The Pilgrim's Progress, then write his own thing? there's the dreamer dreaming part, but i want to quote about how he forgets he's a prince because of drinks that clear his memory.

such a sizzler of an opening v.o. this movie is mostly composed of v.o. the emotional tempo of the editing, especially at the beginning, grabs hold of me. so he pulls me in.

Antonio Banderas is in a party scene, and this is his first v.o.
Quote
Treat this world as it deserves, there are no principles, just circumstances. Nobody's home.

on top of that, Banderas jumps in the pool while entertaining everyone, and taps his shoes to impress a girl.

that's absolutely how i've always dreamed of Antonio Banderas.

on top of that, still at this party, knowing that Malick shoots and shoots and shoots and no one knows what he's going to keep, or what will sound true or important to him, Malick chose to include a moment of Bruce Wagner.

outta town in terms of if Malick holds up for me. in terms of low spirits and utterly followable sequences which overall connect into a portrait of a persistent nothingness.

low spirits are difficult to make compelling in cinema. Malick compelled me. Brian Dennehy didn't do much then suddenly he'd say

Quote
You think when you reach a certain age things will start making sense, and you find out that you are just as lost as you were before. I suppose that's what damnation is. The pieces of your life never to come together, just splashed out there.

some problems from others might stem from swelling music overlapping into people standing around sometimes. on the beach or in a parking lot, people standing around, kinda pacing about. i like the Vegas parking lot when the guy says ~"i work in the dark but live for the light." (he says roughly that, it's better when imdb has the quote.) that's a great line from a guy standing around in a parking lot for some reason. pacing around the beach. around Venice. walking the bridge toward the Santa Monica pier.  pacing around by the Annenberg Space for Photography. pacing around downtown.

the movie is mostly people pacing around and v.o. i liked it a lot. it was a better idea for me to watch Knight of Cups than watch Tree of Life again.
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Re: Knight of Cups
« Reply #71 on: April 04, 2016, 07:44:07 PM »
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Blu-ray on June 21st if sleeping pills aren't working for you*

* this is an opinion

Gold Trumpet

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Re: Knight of Cups
« Reply #72 on: April 04, 2016, 07:55:55 PM »
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I actually really loved this film. I'm not even much of a Terrance Malick fan, but I saw a great thought process to the visual layout and a wonderful execution for themes already done in other films but Malick made deeper and more provoking here. I do want to write about it at length because what I'm saying here isn't much.

Alexandro

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Re: Knight of Cups
« Reply #73 on: June 02, 2016, 06:34:05 PM »
+2
I think Just Whitnail nailed it. The problem is the actors improvising over very little information. That's why they all seem to be doing the same shit.
I won't even compare acting here with other filmmaker's films. In Tree of Life you have Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt all playing full round human beings. Penn is quoted as saying the script for that film is the best he's ever read. When actors have information to build characters and get the chance to improvise, they will likely come up with gold. But when they're confused, that's what you get. They all seem confused, not about life, but about the fucking movie.
Now, the film is beautiful to look at, and in that sense it's never boring, but I had the feeling all the way through that I could just stop it and never think about it again and I wouldn't miss it.

jenkins

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Re: Knight of Cups
« Reply #74 on: June 03, 2016, 07:37:09 PM »
+1
"but I had the feeling all the way through that I could just stop it and never think about it again and I wouldn't miss it."

in particular this sentence -- this is how i feel about myself sometimes. if i died today, what. what? oh who cares. then -- am i confused about the right things? do i give gold to this world? on my worst days i'm all confusion and no gold -- and some people only have their worst days, and i think this is a good movie about those types of people.

there's beauty and depression and that's so difficult to accomplish cinematically. i often don't like movies about depressives because the movies themselves become fixated on some problem or another, so in my head i'm like thinking "yup, this isn't a good plan." "should've seen another movie," you know, i think that when i do, but i didn't think that during this movie, and for me personally it's rising in my rankings based on me thinking that it's the difficult perspectives on being human which art should handle.

so i think this movie is about a depressive and i think the movie is depressing, i love/love that it's not some daily problem, personal problem situation, no, this whole movie is the problem, and its overall is lifted by the grace of cinema (if only the same were possible in life...)

repeating myself, really. for the movie. i also agree with everyone who doesn't like the movie, of course i do.
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