Knight of Cups

I enjoy, even at times love, Terrence Malick’s films. There. I said it, and I won’t apologize for it either. Knight of Cups, his seventh, is due in theaters early next year — a shocker given that To The Wonder came out less than three years ago. Under the usual Malick time horizon, one would expect a decade — maybe two — to go by first, but since 2011’s Tree of Life, he seems intent on getting his projects wrapped up sooner rather than later.

Although I am not deaf to thoughtful criticism of Malick’s work, I believe David Bentley Hart did a fine job lampooning a great deal of anti-Malick sentiment with his “Seven Characters in Search of a Nihil Obstat.” It seems that too many want to approach Malick as a “religious filmmaker” which, in their minds, means he has to be a “Christian filmmaker” with a clear confessional bent. People are understandably uncomfortable with what I would call the “natural theology” of The Thin Red Line; there are Gnostic undertones to the cryptic spirituality which emerges from attempting to comprehend the darkness which relentlessly attempts to engulf the light.

Knight of Cups, based on the trailer, looks surprisingly straightforward film: a life of excess called into question by rediscovering love. If the theme is truly that simple, would it be so bad?

3 comments

  1. I like Mallick’s work as well but from this trailer the Knight of Cups looks something like a sequel to the Wolf of Wallstreet But I’ll probably see it anyway.

    1. I don’t think the excess here is anywhere near WOW, and besides, WOW has no redemptive element; clearly this one does. I think the “glitz” of the trailer is a bit unsettling because it’s so unlike what one would normally imagine Malick going for, but then again if your idea of Malick is Tree of Life or To the Wonder, The Thin Red Line and Days of Heaven would look like wild anomalies. I really think To the Wonder was Malick pushing to the outer limits of what he could do with a film while remaining in any sense coherent, and arguably he stumbled a bit there. To me, this seems more like his earlier work: focusing on a very realistic, even common, theme that movies have grappled with time and time again, only adding his particular touch to the final product. I am fine with that.

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