Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Terrence Malick’

Christian Bale, Natalie Portman

Christian Bale, Natalie Portman

“KNIGHT OF CUPS”  My rating: C-

118 minutes | MPAA rating: R

There lurks in “Knight of Cups” the makings of a pretty good travelogue.

But on most other counts the latest feature  from the increasingly irritating Terrence Malick shows him firmly stuck in the same prison of self parody that doomed his last outing, the unromantic romance “To the Wonder.”

Malick, of course, is the low-profile cinematic genius who back in the ’70s gave us “Badlands” and “Days of Heaven,” then moved on to offbeat period pieces (“The Thin Red Line,” “The New World”) before delivering his ultimate statement, 2011’s memorable (for all the right reasons) “The Tree of Life.”

“Knight of Cups” is ostensibly a Hollywood insider tale, a sort of “La Dolce Vida” look at feckless, amoral living among the beautiful people.

In fractured, impressionistic style it follows a screenwriter named Rick (Christian Bale), as he engages in romantic wanderings, professional and family issues, and hedonistic pastimes.

That description makes the film sound coherent. It isn’t.

Malick eschews conventional narrative construction and character development in favor of sweeping, swooning handheld cinematography of Los Angeles, Las Vegas and the desert by frequent collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki (“Gravity,” “Birdman,” “The Revenant”). His characters almost never actually speak lines, except in the form of vacuous party chatter. Instead we hear their innermost thoughts, whispered in voiceover.

As for the story…what story?

Rick goes through a series of lovers, all of them willowy beauties whose personalities are best summed up by their pre-Raphaelite tresses. Presumably he has sex, although there’s nothing remotely romantic or erotic going on here (Malick has never done sexy).

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck

Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck

“AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS” My rating: C+ (Opening August 30 at the Tivoli and the Rio)

96 minutes| MPAA rating: R

Like its title, “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” tries too damn hard.

The difference between effectiveness and affectation is often a matter of degree, and for my money David Lowery’s Sundance hit  always lays things on just a little too thick.

Or perhaps not thick enough.

In this norish crime drama/romance Lowery apparently is trying to channel Terernce Malick, particularly the early Malick of “Badlands” and “Days of Heaven,” both of which took the form of dreamlike folk ballads. 

Like virtually all Malick movies, “Ain’t Them Bodies…” relies on voiceover narration by one of the characters (in this case a prison escapee played by Casey Affleck).  And the film unfolds in a classic small American town so frozen in time (old trucks, flower print dresses, denim work shirts, cowboy boots) that I was taken aback late in the story when one character produced a cell phone. Like a Malick effort, the movie has been photographed (by Bradford Young) so as to discover the beauty in human faces,  brown Texas landscapes, and even old buildings losing their peeling paint. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Ben Affleck, Olga Kuylenko...falling in love in France

Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko…falling in love in France

“TO THE WONDER” My rating: C (Opens May 3 at the Tivoli)

112 minutes | MPAA rating: R

There’s a temptation to write off “To the Wonder” as a dead-on satiric parody of a Terrence Malick film.

Except that it is a Terrence Malick film.

And since I don’t think Malick is making fun of himself, we are left to struggle with just what  this admittedly talented but hugely exasperating filmmaker is up to.

Hell, maybe he’s just perverse.

“To the Wonder” embraces all the elements that irritated people with his previous film, “The Tree of Life” (which I count as one of the great movies of the last decade) and jettisons all the good stuff.

The film may be the ultimate statement in Malick’s war on narrative. It’s visually poetic, yeah — like an artsy fartsy TV commercial where you can never figure out what they’re selling — but also emotionally empty. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the movie is throwing a hearty “fuck you” into our faces.

I’m going to assume Malick is not just giving us the finger here, that he has attempted to make a real piece of art, and that he has failed.

Happens to everyone. Now how about a plot next time?

Here’s what we can say with certainty. “To the Wonder” is about an American man (Ben Affleck) who on a trip to France falls in love with a young woman (Olga Kurylenko) and brings her and her young daughter back to live with him in the U.S.

Except that he resides in a treeless, flat, irony-free tract-home subdivision outside Bartlesville, OK. It’s a neighborhood hemmed in on one side by high-tension power lines and on the other by an Interstate. There’s an oil well in the back yard.

Hmmmm…let’s see.  Paris…or Oklahoma?  Gosh, it’s such a tough call.

It’s enough to make you think this woman hasn’t got a brain in her head. (more…)

Read Full Post »

“THE TREE OF LIFE”  My rating: A-

138 minutes | MPAA rating:  PG-134

“The Tree of Life” is a sublime, transcendent movie experience.

“The Tree of Life” is like watching your car rust.

That both of the above statements are true only goes to show the uniqueness of the latest effort from the reclusive Terrence Malick.

(more…)

Read Full Post »