Knight of Cups reviews

Terrence Malick‘s new film Knight of Cups, starring Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, and Antonio Banderas, premiered last night in Berlin, and as you might expect from a new Malick movie, reactions are fairly divided.

That didn’t stop distributors from showing interest, however, and Broad Green Pictures — the relatively new outfit backed by hedge fund manager Gabriel Hammond and his younger brother Daniel Hammond — picked up US rights to both Knight of Cups and the currently untitled Austin-set film which will be Malick’s next release. Along with that news comes a lovely new international poster for Knight of Cups and a bevy of reviews covering the spectrum of opinion on the movie. Check it all out after the break.

First up, here’s the poster. Click to enlarge.

Reviews seem very much split along the already well established lines between the “if you like Malick you’ll be on solid ground here” camp and those who don’t care for his current output at all.

The THR review starts out with a suspect line that makes me question the whole thing (“Having swung so far out of orbit on To the Wonder to have been sucked into a creative black hole”) but does say,

A resolutely poetic and impressionist film about creative paralysis, indecision, father and sons, female muses and life slipping away as surely as water down a river, the seventh feature from this takes-his-time writer-director is far more partial to free association and stream-of-consciousness notations than to conventional storytelling. The upshot is a certain tedium and repetitiveness along with the rhythmic niceties and imaginative riffs. But whereas his last work of real weight, The Tree of Life, achieved rarified moments of emotional and lyrical expressiveness, this one mostly operates on a more dramatically mundane, private and even narcissistic level.

The Playlist gets into questions of interpretation, saying,

There will be arguments about “Knight of Cups” similar to those there were over “To The Wonder,” and probably even more pointless. Because in this brimful film, provided you haven’t rejected it outright as overly pretentious and self-indulgent, you can find an image, or a line of voiceover to suit any thesis you care to make. In fact, a kind of referential mania overcomes you when you try to figure out the symbolism of clear water vs cloudy water, open doors and closed doors, mother and father, pilgrim and pearl. But there is no decoder ring provided, no single key to unlocking any single meaning. In fact, the Tarot reference may be more appropriate than we know, and “Knight of Cups”may be designed to be a deck of cards from which everyone makes their own hand. For me, I took this line from the palimpsestic voiceover, “You think when you reach a certain age, things will start making sense, but that’s what damnation is, all these pieces of your life just splashed about.”

The Guardian, in a review that professes admiration for To the Wonder, really takes Malick’s latest to task,

With his latest film Knight of Cups, however, Malick has frankly declined. There are moments of visual brilliance here, moments of reverence and even grandeur. He is always distinctive, and anything he does must be of interest. But his style is stagnating into mannerism, cliche and self-parody. Where once he used his transcendant visual language to evoke heartland America, these tropes are now exposed in being applied to tiresome tinseltown LA, where a screenwriter played by Christian Bale undergoes what has to be the least interesting spiritual crisis in history.

And IndieWire wrestles with the disparate elements,

There’s a sense of freshness to watching Malick’s dreamlike storytelling take root in a fully modern setting for the first time: Strip clubs, drab highways and even the Warner Bros. backlot take on a poetic quality that reflects Rick’s sense of dislocation. As always with Malick, individual moments hold substantial intrigue: An early sequence finds Rick feeling the ground outside his apartment in the aftermath of an earthquake as he seeks to become one with the natural world beyond the grasp of his superficial surroundings. But Malick’s free-wheeling approach means that the movie never lingers on its compelling images or philosophical conceits too long. A tone poem on the vapidity of fame, “Knight of Cups” rarely sits still, and its restlessness eventually grow tedious.

While Time Out London sums things up nicely,

This new film feels very much like part of the same project as ‘The Tree of Life’ and ‘To the Wonder’. All three films strive to make sense of a dislocated man reaching into his past. All three reach for the stars (there’s even a shot of Earth from space in ‘Knight of Cups’) and grasp for answers out of our everyday reach. All of them, too, feel like waking dreams that only their maker could truly explain or maybe even appreciate, meaning they’re as infuriating and impenetrable as they’re magical and open.

Twitter was the home of many positive reactions.

Finally, for a good laugh, here’s footage of two “journalists” addressing questions to Terrence Malick at the Knight of Cups press conference… despite the fact that he wasn’t there.

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