April 7, 2016

Knight of Cups, first time

Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick, 2015). I’m glad I read that essay on Heidegger earlier, at First Things. One important thing: you can feel lost in the world and still feel sure, as well, that the world is a beautiful place that you never want to leave. Also, you can be forgiven. “All things shining” is almost a Malick catchphrase or slogan, or it should be (The Thin Red Line). There is a dead brother, with its suggestions of The Tree of Life (and Malick’s own life), as though The Tree of Life’s Sean Penn had, at the end, kept walking on the beach and turned into Christian Bale. There are pilgrims and legends, the desert and the sea, water and light, and us looking upwards. There are hints of Solaris and Mirror in that repeated piece of music and the dense web of sorrow, memory, love and regret. Has a film ever collapsed time quite like this – not even Mirror. There is no clear sense of what is past, what is present, what happened when, what is remembered, what is observed and what is imagined. It is a feat of editing, and it is mesmerising. The use of Hollywood studio lots as settings suggests dream cities or simulations of the real world, but then so does Las Vegas, which looks like paradise. Malick and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki stage crowd scenes that are moved through calmly, in real space, with real light, and the mobile camera has its own point of view. “Love and do what you like,” a woman says, quoting St Augustine. If they tell you that the ennui is stylised, that there are too many convertibles, too many girls and parties, say Antonioni. Tell them it’s as good as The Tree of Life, which was a masterpiece, remember?