Knight of Cups 9

Assured as we are in our appreciation, Terrence Malick devotees might have found the conversation surrounding Knight of Cups unfulfilling for how little it focused on the picture’s richness and instead asked questions about its moral center — thinkpiece-ready “musings” that did just about nothing to illuminate a complicated text. But we did our part, others have been chipping in, and the film’s availability on the likes of Amazon Prime will no doubt engender stronger critical discourse in the months and years to come. Don’t cry for Christian Bale: he’ll soon watch our video essays and smile.

The latest is from James Slaymaker and Jack Gracie, who’ve created, for Notebook, a consideration of Cups as a city symphony and its relationship with certain philosophical texts and films, including works by Michael Mann and Jean-Marie Straub. (Hidden homage or happy accident? You decide.) Though a bit verbose, their piece very intelligently delineates the many pieces comprising Malick’s latest, as well as (possibly) his most complicated. Not least of all, it makes me think now’s finally the time to revisit it — especially before making a year-end list.

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