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Knight of Cups: I found a movie I want to see...

Knight of Cups Terrence Malick Lubezki

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#1 Freya Black

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 12:28 PM

This movie both looks interesting as a movie and also has really beautiful cinematography.

It doesn't suffer from the increasingly tired and over used Alexa look. The light and colour are beautiful and there are interesting shots where they havn't been afraid to go further.

 

The only thing about it that worries me is that the casting seems slightly odd but then I know far too little about the movie to really make a judgment on that. Certainly the acting seems okay in the trailer.

 

I've been having a hard time finding anything I want to see in the way of movies for much of the last year but I'm actually quite excited by this movie.

 

I've not really seen anything else by Terrence Malick yet but I think I bought a couple of DVD's of his movies for 50p each. I just havn't had a chance to see them yet as my solar panels stopped working a while back on account of them moving the sun for the winter. (very annoying)

 

Please check out the trailer below:

 

https://www.youtube....utoplay=1&rel=0


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#2 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 01:09 PM

I've been following the status of the release of that film since it was in post-production.  I think it was delayed because of some lawsuits Malick was dealing with.

 

In any case, it looks to have the same kinds of self-reflective & ponderous themes as The Tree of Life (2011) & To the Wonder (2012.)  I loved The Tree of Life, but when you make the same film over and over, in the same style, it gets a little tiresome.  I'll definitely see Knight of Cups in the theater.  And as you pointed out, it's unfair to make any kind of judgment until we see it. 

 

I love Malick's work but the last film of his that I remember having a solid plot to it was The Thin Red Line (1998.)  But in fairness, he had a literary foundation to go on.


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#3 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 02:54 PM

Yea, I'm not a Malick fan at all. I thought 'Days of Heaven' and 'The Thin Red Line' were entertaining, but his most recent films are a bore. As Bill pointed out, they're pretty much the same repetitive story over and over again.

As a filmmaker, one of the things that bothers me about his movies is that he clearly makes them in post. He runs around, shoots way over the script and makes it work by constantly tweaking. On his last few films, he was cutting even during the theatrical release, shipping out updated DCP's to the theaters. So if you like that kind of story telling, one done completely in post, it maybe your kind of film. However, in my book, editing should be a "cleaning" of the story a "fine tuning" of what was on the written page. Yet, Malick's more recent films, its as if there wasn't any story and he's mixing stock footage together in order to tell something.

Of course, his films look amazing, but that has nothing to do with him... only his wonderful DP, Emmanuel Lubezki. So if you're bored and wish to see pretty pictures... maybe he's the right director for you! :)
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#4 Giray Izcan

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 03:15 PM

I agree with Tyler on this one for sure. 


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#5 cole t parzenn

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 04:17 PM

"The Tree of Life" is pretty much the parody pretentious art-house film about everything and nothing seen in the background of television shows. But it's also a **(obscenity removed)** masterpiece - Malick's a legend for a reason and I'll be making a point of seeing this.

 

Kubrick also kept editing after the initial showings.


Edited by cole t parzenn, 24 December 2015 - 04:18 PM.

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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 06:09 PM

Certainly Malick is not a traditional narrative director, he is mixing elements from experimental film, using images to invoke somewhat abstract concepts that are hard to verbalize.  I can appreciate that.

 

But given his loose style of filmmaking, basically collecting images and then building the movie in editing, more akin to documentaries in some way in that the footage drives where it wants to go in editing, the final results can be hit or miss. "Tree of Life" was quite wonderful I think, but "To The Wonder", though beautiful to look at of course, relies too heavily in editing on visual cliches like a young woman twirling in a field at sunset to suggest a free spirit, to suggest falling in love, etc. 

 

I think "Days of Heaven", "The Thin Red Line", "The New World", and "Tree of Life" are all great films worth revisiting. Maybe because he is tackling epic themes, nearly biblical, that carry a certain amount of weight.

 

But sometimes I recall my old film school professor making some comment about the lyrical being the death of the narrative.  I don't agree completely but one has to be careful with the amount of non-narrative lyrical "mood" moments that -- while undeniably cinematic -- can kill the narrative drive of the movie, just like too much seasoning can kill a dish.  But again, Malick seems to be staking out an area of cinema slightly outside the traditional, which is refreshing. When it works.


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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 08:13 PM

Freya, are you living off the grid or something? If you can, you should definitely watch Malick's 'Badlands', 'Days of Heaven', 'The Thin Red Line' and 'The Tree of Life.' They are beautiful films, I think you'd enjoy them.
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#8 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 08:38 PM

Life is a narrative, we as humans follow that narrative and we comprehend how that story telling structure works. The moment you go off structure, the moment you break from any direct narrative, you risk confusing the audience. For instance, documentaries spend most of their time building narrative structure, so people aren't confused. They too have to tell a story and generally the best way is using the narrative structure.

So here we are with Malick and his uninteresting art nonsense. You can interpret his images a million different ways, but that doesn't mean you actually understand what he's getting on about. To me, the pure essence of cinema is visual story telling. If you aren't capable of telling a story, then what's the point? Malick is all about feeling and emotion, what it's like to exist, rather then why the character bothers to exist. As the audience, we can't really connect and for lack of a better word, his films are visual porn (your body doesn't know why it keeps staring at the screen). We as the audience are almost held in captivity, viewing the pretty images, constantly wondering what the interpretation is of what we're seeing on screen.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 09:26 PM

Certainly the essence of narrative cinema is visual storytelling, but cinema isn't only narrative -- there is an entire genre of experimental cinema out there, with its own history.  I think Malick is attempting to bridge experimental cinema with traditional narrative cinema.  He's not following your personal rule book.

 

I think of Malick's movies more as poetry rather than prose.  It doesn't always work -- I studied poetry writing at UCLA (because I couldn't get into the undergrad film program) and I recall two concepts I learned about writing poetry.  One is it is important to understand the difference between ambiguity and a lack of clarity.  Ambiguity just means that multiple interpretations are allowed, but a lack of clarity means that there was only one possible interpretation but that it has been hidden by confusing writing.  And often a lack of clarity is used to hide a lack of meaning.

 

The other thing I learned is that there is nothing wrong with "difficult" writing as long as the reader is rewarded for making the effort of understanding the work with some grand understanding, that some interesting complex idea has been expressed and finally understood in some sort of epiphany.  So if your idea is very basic, like LOVE IS GOOD, then don't cloud it up just to make it seem more important than it really is.

 

So when Malick is doing something interesting in how he explores the tension and even dangers of growing up, as in "Tree of Life", I think it works, but when the message seems to be "hey, some relationships with attractive women just don't work out" as in "To The Wonder", I think it's a bit overdressed, at least for a feature-length movie.

 

Having gone through a semester of the History of Experimental Film at CalArts, that brings up my own personal feeling, which is that the longer the movie is, the more it needs a narrative structure, which is why it is hard to sit through a 2-hour experimental movie as opposed to a 1/2-hour one.  I don't mind a movie that is just a series of images expressing complex non-verbal ideas and feeling, but it's hard to sustain interest if it goes on for too long.  Some of this is conditioning of course, and personal taste, but I think the human mind likes narrative structure - it's what Alexander Mackendrick called the childlike "what happens next?" impulse, we see a set-up of some narrative action and we crave resolution.  Because of that, we can sit for two or more hours in a movie theater wanting to find out how the story will unravel.  I think with experimental non-narrative visual poetry, it's easier to accept in shorter lengths.


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#10 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 10:08 PM

Yep, I agree.

I just personally don't care for the experimental genera. There is some experimental art which is pretty to hang on a wall, but you aren't going to stare at it for 2+ hours.

To me, I see experimental artists as lacking the skills normal artists strive for. Nothing wrong with that, most of my films are experimental in one way or another. But I always suck with standard narrative structure because it's not that difficult.
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#11 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 10:53 PM

I'm guessing you're not a big fan of Tarkovsky's Solaris, Tyler.

 

Life is a narrative, we as humans follow that narrative and we comprehend how that story telling structure works..

 

That's quite a generalization because each of those narratives is very different.  Everyone goes through some of the same trials and tribulations during their respective lives, but they process and deal with them in very different ways.  Even people who may be considered rather rigid thinkers - and may process certain feelings or emotions sub-consciously, whereas you or I might process them consciously - they are still experiencing them.  And very often, people get hit with just that - a "feeling" that is hard to put into words.

 

That's what Malick is very good at tapping into - visual abstractions to convey an idea or an emotion.  Yes, he gets into the grandiose concepts of existence and the self, but remember that this is someone who studied philosophy in undergrad - a field that ultimately has more questions than answers to it...just like Malick's films.  I found The Tree of Life very engaging because of those themes but it took me some time to warm up to it.  The first time I watched it, it felt like nothing more than a very long and beautiful montage.  But something kept pulling me back to it and it became one of my favorites of recent years.

 

I just personally don't care for the experimental genera.

 

That's fine.  It's not everyone's cup of tea.  I just find that film-makers tend to limit themselves when they don't expose themselves to the works of experimental film-makers like Maya Deren, Kenneth Anger, Chantal Akerman & Stan Brakhage just to name a few.  Just because someone is making a narrative doesn't mean they can't insert some story-driven abstractions to make the viewer engage his or her brain.  After all, isn't that what we're all trying to do here?...visually engage the audience and make people think?


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#12 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 11:59 PM

I'm guessing you're not a big fan of Tarkovsky's Solaris, Tyler.


Nope, I saw bits of it, put me to sleep.

That's quite a generalization because each of those narratives is very different.


Sure, but they're all a narrative of one kind or another. We all came from this planet, we all grow older, we are either male or female and our lives for better or for worse, all follow a "timeline" of some sort or another. This is what the narrative structure is all about, it's following that timeline.

That's what Malick is very good at tapping into - visual abstractions to convey an idea or an emotion.  Yes, he gets into the grandiose concepts of existence and the self, but remember that this is someone who studied philosophy in undergrad - a field that ultimately has more questions than answers to it...just like Malick's films.  I found The Tree of Life very engaging because of those themes but it took me some time to warm up to it.  The first time I watched it, it felt like nothing more than a very long and beautiful montage.  But something kept pulling me back to it and it became one of my favorites of recent years.


The idea of feeling/emotion presented on screen as a visual concept. I get it, but what do YOU get from it? How does it further your life? Do you learn something from it and pass that knowledge on to the rest of your life? I'm just wondering because I haven't even really tried to watch it. Mind you, I also couldn't get through 'Boyhood', which is supposedly considered one of the best films made in the history of filmmaking. Yet, I love so many unusual films, ones that our youth couldn't give two shits about. I guess it's all down to personal preference at one point or another. I'm just very much into the "cinematic" aspects of filmmaking because that's what the "cinema" is for in my opinion.

I just find that film-makers tend to limit themselves when they don't expose themselves to the works of experimental film-makers


Yep, it's true! If more filmmakers thought outside of the box, we'd have better movies for sure. I like experimental THEMES like 'Inception' and 'Momento' because they follow a narrative structure. Mostly all of my story ideas contain a single "experimental" type theme, but told in a narrative structure.

I just wanna make standard ol' popcorn movies ya know? Entertain the audience for a few hours, get them away from their lives for a moment and into someone else's.

Merry Christmas, off to see Star Wars in 3D... yuck.. :D
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#13 Giray Izcan

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Posted 25 December 2015 - 12:03 AM

Tyler, you should go to the Vista to see it on 35 print. It's worth the extra trip for sure.


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#14 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 25 December 2015 - 05:03 AM

Tyler, you should go to the Vista to see it on 35 print. It's worth the extra trip for sure.


Yep, on my short list to do this holiday season.

Funny enough, the screening I saw tonight was not 3D after all. I'll do a write up in the right section later.
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#15 Freya Black

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Posted 25 December 2015 - 09:00 AM

Freya, are you living off the grid or something? If you can, you should definitely watch Malick's 'Badlands', 'Days of Heaven', 'The Thin Red Line' and 'The Tree of Life.' They are beautiful films, I think you'd enjoy them.

 

 

Yup! Sort of been "camping" for about 6 months or so now. I'm hoping to switch it up slightly soon tho.

I have a little clam shell DVD player thing that seems to use less power than my DAB radio.

 

The ones I have are "The Thin Red Line" and "The New World". I remember now that everyone had mentioned all the movies. I was tempted by "Tree Of Life" but I saw a bit of it previously and wasn't sure if it was really working for me, so I avoided it but I might change my mind. It came across a bit too much like one of those Life in a day movies by Kevin McDonald but hey if I see it again for 50p then I might give it a chance.

 

I will have to keep an eye out for the "Badlands" movie. At least the title sounds interesting.

 

The Knight of Cups movie has been getting terrible reviews apparently. It might be because the director is suddenly out of fashion though. I have to say the theme of the movie which would appear to be about some ultra successful LA type, struggling with the pressures of being successful. This seems a bit trivial and out of step with the times too but I still think this movie looks really interesting. Very nice trailer anyway.

 

Freya


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#16 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 25 December 2015 - 03:34 PM

The Knight of Cups movie has been getting terrible reviews apparently. It might be because the director is suddenly out of fashion though.


Well yea, I think this quote from Kenneth Turan from the LA Times, sums up his movies: "While Malick's great ability holds us for a time, it is finally not enough to compensate for a lack of dramatic involvement - those eschatological quandaries tend to overwhelm the story. The Tree of Life, its enormous advantages notwithstanding, ends up a film that demands to be admired but cannot be easily embraced."

It's suppose to be entertainment after all!
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#17 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 25 December 2015 - 03:59 PM

The idea of feeling/emotion presented on screen as a visual concept. I get it, but what do YOU get from it? How does it further your life? Do you learn something from it and pass that knowledge on to the rest of your life? I'm just wondering because I haven't even really tried to watch it.

 

This is why I'm always saying I love "thought-provoking" films like 2001, Solaris, Apocalypse Now, Persona and so many others that leave me with more questions than answers.  For me, that is the true definition of cinema - a film that tries to tackle fundamental issues dealing with the human condition.  Narrative structure is merely an element of that.  It's nowhere near the be-all and end-all of cinema.

 

I just wanna make standard ol' popcorn movies ya know? Entertain the audience for a few hours, get them away from their lives for a moment and into someone else's.

 

That's fine - to each his own.  But if everyone were doing that (which is what it's coming close to,) cinema would be very dry.


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#18 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 03:47 PM

Getting back to this, did Knight of Cups every get a theatrical release?  It looks to be on it's way to DVD in June...


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#19 cole t parzenn

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 03:47 PM

If it did, I missed it. :/


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#20 Miguel Angel

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 05:36 PM

I saw it ages ago in the Cinema Club. 

 

I love Malick's work, and I really agree with David in some points that he mentioned above regarding narrative and poetry in Malick's work. 

 

While I like all his filmography until "The Tree Of Life" (included), I think that with "Knight Of Cups" he has gone a bit beyond the confusion trying to recreate some concepts that he has already explored in previous movies (relationships with women and people), as in "To The Wonder".

 

Many of his visual themes and ways of filming are exactly the same since "The Tree Of Life" and while they worked brilliantly in "The Tree Of Life" and the movie was really engaging because of the themes it touched and talked about, it worked a bit less in "To The Wonder" and definitely it works even less in "Knight Of Cups", which is a real pity because Malick could have made a really fantastic movie with the plot that it has, however, he opted to go towards the experimental / avant-garde side. 

 

Maybe the movie itself is a meta-movie in that Malick wants to convince himself about his actual feelings and ideas about actors and such through Christian Bale's character!

 

Anyways, as always, it is a really pretty movie to look at. 

 

However, I liked the Terrence Malick that made movies that made me feel. 

 

Have a good day! 


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