Knight of Cups (Malick, 2015): USA

Reviewed by someone that didn’t get it.  Viewed at the 2016 Santa Barbara Film Festival in the Arlington Theater, Sunday February 7, 8:00 PM.
 
When a Producer has to announce what the audience should look for, you know a film is in trouble.  And it was.
It turns out Knight of Cups was a comedy.  A comedy of errors that it ever got into production!  This latest pile of steaming excrement was written and directed by Harvard undergraduate and Oxford drop-out, turned AFI alumnus, Terrance Malick.
And in a rather odd coincidence, I found a copy of the script:
KNIGHT OF CUPS –
By Terrance Malick
INT. POSH HOTEL – DAY
Rick, a self-absorbed screenwriter in his early 40s, wanders aimlessly around, looking for meaning.

Sleeps with a lot of women.

EXT. BACKYARD OF REALLY EXPENSIVE HOUSE – DAY
He finds a pearl in the bottom of a pool.
THE END
Analysis:
This movie, if you call it that, reeked of unrestrained artistic conceit, pointless extravagance, and large smoldering piles of Hollywood money.  It was awful — and I want two hours of my life back!
Yes, it was a big budget movie with some big name actors and plenty of amazing cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki, but no discernible plot and only bits and scraps of fleeting dialog that made it impossible to follow.  Now did I say that strongly enough?  I mean, it was really, really awful.  Minus five stars.
If, on the other hand, the theater laced some sort of hallucinogenic substance into the popcorn, it might help the audience buy into this vaporous twilight.  It might also explain Malick’s 20 year absence from film-making, contemplating his navel in the caves of Nepal, and his loose associations and addled reasoning behind this film.  Without serious drug abuse, there’s no way to excuse this psychotic piece of self-indulgence.
The one thing that really stood out in the theater was how deathly quiet the audience was.  For two hours, they were reaching and straining with both ears, fearing they missed an important piece of dialogue, something that would help the movie make sense.  And so they waited, ever so patiently, for any scrap of a story to arrive.  Even Christian Bale confessed he was baffled what the film was about.
It was worse than waiting in line at D.M.V.  And I mean a really, really long line.
There… I feel much better now.  But now let me tell you how I really feel.
If Malick drops another bomb like this, it will be the end of his career.  It was a brave but foolish attempt to render an experimental art film, but big-budget art films don’t make money.  This film completely oversold the concept with a promise, a slick glossy trailer, and admittedly some really spectacular cinematography.  But the audience came, and saw, and… left angry.
If for some reason you are abducted and forced into seeing it, enjoy the visuals and try to accept that all that star power and gratuitous nudity can not prop up this otherwise pointless and forgettable film.  And go easy on the popcorn.
Disclaimer: No movie-goers were actually harmed in the making of this ‘creative’ review.
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