you're reading:
Movie Reviews

Movie review: “Knight of Cups”

Knight of Cups bMuddled, aimless, indecipherable, and shallow, Terence Malick’s Knight of Cups is one of the most insufferable slogs in recent cinema, a soul-crushing waste of a fine cast and some genuinely stunning photography by recent Academy Award winner Emmanuel Luzbecki (The Revenant). There was a time when Malick’s opaque style was a breath of fresh air in a staid medium; now, it’s verging on self-parody.

There’s very little to it: Christian Bale is Rick, a screenwriter living in Los Angeles and in the grips of an thinly detailed existential crisis. He may be struggling with his career, his brother’s suicide, strained relationships with his other sibling (Wes Bentley) and/or father (Brian Dennehy), unresolved issues with his ex-wife (Cate Blanchett), the tragedy and heartache he experienced with a married woman (Natalie Portman), all of the above, or even none of the above. It’s difficult  to get handle on what Rick’s issues are since he spends almost the entirety of the movie morosely pacing around West L.A. and its beaches and parties with a dead-eyed expression while Bale (and most of the other characters, for that matter) espouse faux profundity via monotonous voice-over narration.

It’s a frustrating, self-absorbed, impenetrable mess of a movie that smugly dares its viewers to find a single reason to give damn about any of it. Occasionally it flirts with indicting Rick for  succumbing to the Screenwriter’s Curse — selling out to Hollywood and succumbing to its decadent distractions. That is well-trod ground however, and Knight of Cups says nothing new on the topic when it bothers to say anything at all.

In the standard tarot deck, the Knight of Cups represents a bringer of ideas, artistic and refined but often bored and in constant need of stimulation. That seems an apt summation of Rick, but not so much when it comes to Malick. When he arrived on the scene in the 1970s, that second Golden Age of American cinema, Malick brought a unique and exciting perspective. No, after three consecutive movies drenched in the same self-indulgent claptrap, he seems more like a fraud.

Advertisements

About Gary Dowell

Professional film critic, journalist, Byronic hero.

Discussion

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Go to:

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,514 other followers

%d bloggers like this: