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Terrence Malick's Song To Song discussion thread
#1

Oh look it's Terrence Malick making the Terrence Malick film again:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9t4SKWryWM

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#2
ASounds like this is as late period Malicky as expected. I fell asleep 40 mins into Knight Of Cups so I'm not sure if even the presence of Iggy Pop and Die Antwoord can coax me into sitting through this one any time soon.

The only mildly interesting thing about this project is how part of the Malick legend was the incongruous rumours that he'd hang out in his trailer listing to heavy metal between filming. This will be the first time rock music makes it into any of his work to my knowledge.

Anyway he's doing a WW2 drama next so hopefully more interesting things will result now he's done with his modern malaise trilogy.
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#3

Malick goes from dropping off the face of the earth for two decades to ninja directing random movies every year and becoming more prolific than Spielberg.



I kind of liked it better when he released a movie every ten years instead of these yearly navel gazing exercises.  But Tree of Life was as good as Days of Heaven.

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#4

I get the impression he's kind of letting his hair down with these recent ones, just taking the chance to be loose and spontaneous for a bit (even if they took like five years to edit). I don't mind that he's done them, in a way it's cool that such a thing as 'minor Malick' films finally exist, but I'm definitely glad this phase of his seems to be drawing to a close.



I was kind of surprised Voyage Of Time didn't make a bit more of an impact. That seemed like the kind of thing that might actually have found an audience as one of those slow-burning IMAX spectacles.



His next one Radegund will be working from a proper script for once (though who knows how much of it will make it to the screen). The premise sounds almost oscar-baity.

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#5

I still need to see Voyage of Time.

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#6

I couldn't finish Knight of Cups. Perhaps this makes me a bad cineaste, but after about 30 minutes I yelled "OKAY TERRY I GET IT" and turned the movie off. But, truth be told, I wasn't the biggest fan of Tree of Life, either. I love Badlands, Days of Heaven and The New World, but ToL is where he started to lose me.

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#7

I think Tree of Life was the perfect mix of old and new Malick.  He seemed to get the balance just right.  Briliant meditation on existence that manages to tell a poignant story without exposition.  Then he started getting more radical in experimentation and I don't think it was all that successful with TTW and KOC.

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#8

The snooze Cups lulled me into was most pleasant. So there's that.



Tree Of Life might be my favorite Malick. It has certain flaws and I can't relate to the more explicitly religious aspects, but there's magic in it. It manages to evoke aspects of being a child, and the fractured semi-imagined memories everyone has of early childhood like nothing I've ever seen. It aims ridiculously high and gets most of the way there.



The ones after that seem like variations on a theme. But while Tree drew all these obviously semi-autobiographical aspects into a coherent statement, it's a lot harder to tell what he's getting at with these latest ones.

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#9
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ambler View Post
 

I think Tree of Life was the perfect mix of old and new Malick.  He seemed to get the balance just right.  Briliant meditation on existence that manages to tell a poignant story without exposition.  Then he started getting more radical in experimentation and I don't think it was all that successful with TTW and KOC.


I think I like The New World most because the imagery is still tethered to a story. After that he took a headlong dive into the sense-memory style he uses now, and it leaves me cold. I watch ToL and think "this was made by a genius," but to me it still feels like the most expensive perfume commercial ever produced.

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#10

I think ToL has a definite story, it's just not as plot heavy as traditional films.

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#11

Voyage of Time is actually really great. I am anxious to see the full length version of it too. Just wish there was a release date for it be it Blu Ray or Theater.  I am interested in Song to Song but I still haven't finished Cups. It was hard getting through To the Wonder though. I think my favorite is still Thin Red Line followed by Tree of Life though.

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#12

THE TREE OF LIFE is Malick's masterpiece (and I actually prefer it to the two '70s films), but KNIGHT OF CUPS is a personal favorite. Even so, I can understand why many wouldn't take to it.

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#13
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ambler View Post
 

I think ToL has a definite story, it's just not as plot heavy as traditional films.


True, I was mainly referring to plot. I know movies shouldn't be PLOT PLOT PLOT (tm Ska Oreo), but for me his more plot-laden film provided an "in" for me.



AV Club just today posted a look at ToL and its Cannes win - http://www.avclub.com/article/tree-life-brought-terrence-malick-boos-cheers-and--252053 I'll probably try and give this another shot. (Although I think The New World has the same concerns, along with a plot and imagery that, imo, is even more beautiful than Tree.)

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#14
AI like the childhood/Brad Pitt stuff in TOL a lot.

I'm not crazy about the rest of it. The Sean Penn bookends don't really work for me on any level.
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#15
AThat's me as well
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#16

The Penn bookends almost feel like a parody of the rest of the movie. The rest of the film feels almost effortless, while the Penn stuff feels like it's straining for profundity.



The creation sequence is amazing, but I was more awed by The New World's depiction of unsullied nature.

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#17

Not even Penn likes the Penn stuff.



The ending in the original script is cool, he basically has this infinite perspective vortex moment where he internalises his place in the history of the universe and the universe's place in the multiverse. Not an easy thing to visualise though, which might be why Malick ended up going for something more abstract.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Malmordo View Post
 

KNIGHT OF CUPS is a personal favorite. Even so, I can understand why many wouldn't take to it.


Would you mind elaborating? It's on Amazon Prime I think so I plan to have another crack at it before too long.

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#18
Quote:

Originally Posted by Paul C View Post


Would you mind elaborating? It's on Amazon Prime I think so I plan to have another crack at it before too long.


Not sure, to be honest. I identify with the main character's spiritual crisis to a certain degree (even though I don't live in L.A. and have no experience in the film industry) and can recognize my relatives in the behavior of the brother/father. The images are wonderful, of course, and so is the music, but I also like the beauty found in locations that would seem garish and tacky in any other context (Vegas). Bale might seem like he's coasting through sections of the movie, but he's able to convey a lot with few words -- late in the house party sequence (w/ Antonio Banderas) he seems to be on the verge of a breakdown, and I found his anxiety to be almost palpable.



But how could I possibly recommend this movie? You either go along with it or you don't.

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#19

Knight of Cups was one of the most unbearable cinema experiences I've ever had. According to Bale and Antonio Banderas, there wasn't a script. Making a movie without a script goes against the tenets of filmmaking, IMO - it's like trying to build a house without a foundation. Without a structured story, what we're essentially seeing is "Terry's Home Movies". It's a shame, too, because his older films show that he's a really talented screenwriter. So, if Song to Song is more of the same, count me out.

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#20
A[quote name="Mangy" url="/community/t/159111/terrence-malicks-song-to-song-discussion-thread#post_4251868"]The Penn bookends almost feel like a parody of the rest of the movie.
[/quote]
Yes.

And then every subsequent Malick film has been a lot like those bookends and less like the other stuff.
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#21

I finally finished off Knight Of Cups. It is indeed basically an entire film built around the Penn bits of Tree Of Life - a rich guy wandering around spotless modernist buildings, angsting about his departed brother. Only with a lot more frolicking with elfin beauties.



I get what Malmordo is saying - vague as it is, the stuff with the brother and father works quite well. It's best when it turns into a full on hallucinogenic journey into gaudy American excess. For Malick fans probably the most interesting thing about it is how you get to see him looking at un-Malicky high tech urban environments with the same eye he normally uses to revel in natural beauty and nostalgic Americana.



There's a lot of great visual stuff in it, and Bale is much better at being a mopey cypher than Affleck was. But I'm still not sure what he was actually trying to say with it.

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#22

Hey, looks like Paul Schrader just caught up with Song to Song. Paul, whadja think?


Quote:

If you could photograph the unwanted urine which dribbles from an old man's penis you would have a film titled Song to Song.
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#23
ASounds like a late-period Malick film alright!
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#24

That quote could just as easily be used to describe Schrader's work for the past 20 years.

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#25
A few hours separated my viewing of KNIGHT OF CUPS and this.  I figured if I was in the right mood to tolerate what was by all accounts a similar beast, I'd better keep making hay before it wears off.  The films are indeed presented in the exact same style, but with Hollywood/Vegas swapped for Austin.  I immediately recognized the Fun Fun Fun Festival.  (Music festivals are absolutely not my scene, but there was a girl involved.)

It seems that Malick's process, at least since THE NEW WORLD, is to approach his subject as a scenarist in the truest sense of the word.  It's like he throws his actors into a scenario and lets them run with it - kind of like a humorless CURB YOUR ENTHUSIAM - while he roots around their performances and naturally-lit surroundings (ideally high-end apartment buildings) with a handheld if stabilized camera outfitted with an extremely wide angle lens.  He then goes off and finds the film after three years in the editing room with the reams of footage he indiscriminately generated, summoning parties back for some additional shooting and oodles of narration when he runs low on glue.

I don't find the approach objectionable, but I wonder if this isn't the artiste equivalent of Robert Zemeckis's motion-capture detour.  That is, a phase.  Ultimately, it's just a different way of telling a story.  I'm not convinced the end result fathoms any more depths than a more controlled approach would have (I still contend Malick's first film is his best -- BADLANDS was plenty lyrical, and it didn't need to dispense with the convention of a solid structure or the tradition of camera setups to achieve that), but neither do I find it unbearably boring or pretentious, mostly because it's intriguing to see high profile actors play in this sandbox, and because there's enough audiovisual interest to carry you through what are, after all, two hour movies.  I do think I would have enjoyed both of these more in a theatrical environment.  Val Kilmer cutting off locks of hair in front of a throng of revelers should not be constained to a small screen.

TO THE WONDER isn't conveniently on Prime, so I'll have to wait to fill my Malick gaps completely.  I hear it features Skinny Pete from BREAKING BAD!
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