Excepting a handful of his contemporaries, no director encourages widespread debate as much as Terrence Malick, a once-revered mystery man whose increasingly prolific and autobiographical oeuvre has, in some circles, begun raising concerns. Is he a misogynist? Does he not know how to represent people of color? Have the Lubezki-photographed images become static in their meaning, or lack thereof? In other words: is this guy really kind of full of shit?

Although this site generally leans in favor of the film and its maker, individual voices represented here have argued, and with good reason, more towards the affirmative when considering those questions. And in a circle we start to spin: his specter’s grown so strong that even the most hard-headed critics, no matter their opinion, will take it into account when discussing (or debating and debating and debating) the work.

Scout Tafoya, making Knight of Cups the latest subject of his Unloved series, has cut through some of the noise — despite clearly holding a strong opinion of the new Malick picture, that is. Comparing its crowded framing to decadent Italian cinema of the ’60s and Christian Bale‘s lost protagonist to Arabian Nights‘ Scheherazade, this examination uses all the right pieces — including Roger Ebert‘s To the Wonder review, the final he would ever write — in considering this many-layered thing that Malick made “because he needed the world to know he was suffering.” Will it change your opinion of the movie in any way? That’s no easier to answer than anything asked above — but I’d wager it’s more persuasive than most else out there.

Have a look below:

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