Posts Tagged ‘Terrence Malick’


A new feature from from! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” “Going in Style” and “Song top Song.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” “Going in Style,” “Song to Song” and the documentary “Giants of Africa.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, the “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” “Going in Style,” “Song to Song” and the documentary “Giants of Africa.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

SONG TO SONG: 1 STAR. “the Malick movie that put me off Malick movies.”

I think it’s time Terrence Malick and I called it quits.

I used to look forward to his infrequent visits. Sure, sometimes he was a little obtuse and over stayed his welcome, but more often than not he was alluringly enigmatic. Then he started coming around more often and, well, maybe the old saying about familiarity breeding contempt is true.

For most of his career he was a tease, a mythic J.D. Salinger type who burst on the scene in a blinding flash of brilliance, made two of the best films of the 1970s, then left us hanging. Like spurned lovers we waited for him to return for two decades and at first were happy to see him again. He told wondrous stories about personal connections and the nature of relationships.

Then he started repeating himself. In the beginning I didn’t mind but soon his whispered philosophical asides became tiresome and I began to look for reasons to avoid him.

Now I have one.

It’s been said that the essence of cinema is beautiful people saying interesting things. In his new film Malick gets it half right, parading good-looking heart throbs like Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman around in a pointless exercise called “Song to Song.”

Fassbender plays a Machiavellian a record producer who uses his wealth and power to seduce those around him, including aspiring musician Mara, rising star Gosling and waitress-turned-wife Portman. The willowy women and mumbling men run barefoot through the loose story—which often feels cobbled together from scraps of film found on the editing room floor—pondering philosophical questions in hushed tones. “How do you know when you were lying to yourself?” they whisper. “Is any experience is better than no experience?” All the while Malick’s camera, light as a feather, floats above it all capturing his puzzling whims. For the entire running time nobody looks like they’re having any fun even when they’re dancing, being goofy or laughing. They’re not having any fun and neither will you.

Airy and disjointed, it’s a collage of feelings and shards of life strung together on a fractured timeline. Malick indulges himself to the point that the film is less a movie and more like an experience, like going to “Laser Floyd.”

There are highlights. Val Kilmer singing to a festival crowd, “I got some uranium! I bought it off my mom!” before hacking off his hair with a giant Bowie knife is a memorable moment and cameos from Patti Smith and John Lydon are welcome, but at its heart “Song to Song” is a movie about people trying to connect that keeps its audience at arms length.

There’s a quick shot of a tattoo in the movie that sums up my feelings toward my relationship with Malick. Written in flowery script, the words “Empty Promises” fill the screen, reminding us of the promise of the director’s early work and amplifying the disappointment we feel today. “Song to Song” is the straw that broke the camel’s back, the Terrence Malick movie that put me off Terrence Malick movies.

I’ll be nice though and say, it’s not him, it’s me.


Screen Shot 2016-03-19 at 9.00.19 AMRichard and CP24 anchor host Nneka Elliot have a look at he weekend’s big releases, the Spike Lee satire “Chi-Raq,” the young adult dystopia of “The Divergent Series: Allegiant Pt. 1” and the Lance Armstrong biopic “The Program.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 9.34.26 AMRichard and “Canada AM” host host Beverly Thomson have a look at the weekend’s big releases: the Spike Lee satire “Chi-Raq,” the young adult dystopia of “The Divergent Series: Allegiant Pt. 1,” the Lance Armstrong biopic “The Program,” and “Knight of Cups,” the new Terrence Malick paint drier.

Watch the whole thing HERE!


KNIGHT OF CUPS: 1 STAR. “not unlike watching expensive, glossy paint dry.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 3.35.26 PMSometimes it can be hard to be a Terrence Malick fan. At their best the director’s poetic films are soulful investigations of the human spirit. His greatest movies—“Tree of Life,” “Badlands”—are masterworks of spiritual introspection but his worst work crosses the lane into pretention in a way that makes Kanye West’s Twitter account look humble. It can be a struggle to actually enjoy some of his work, but never have I battled with a Malick movie the way I did with “Knight of Cups.” Fought to stay in my seat until the end. It’s a cure for insomnia not unlike watching expensive, glossy paint dry.

Broken into chapters with titles like Judgment, Death and The Hanged Man, the film stars Christian Bale as Rick, a successful but desperately unhappy Hollywood screenwriter. Like an extended episode of “Seinfeld” were nothing happens, Rick wanders around the screen accompanied by a series of beautiful women—Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Isabel Lucas, Teresa Palmer and Freida Pinto—but ultimately cannot find joy with any of them. He strolls through life with a sad sack expression on his face that makes Sad Keanu seem jubilant, moving from woman to woman, rueing, “All of those years living a life of someone I did not know.”

Apparently inspired by the 1678 Christian allegory “The Pilgrim’s Progress” and the passage “Hymn of the Pearl” from “The Acts of Thomas,” “Knight of Cups,” is, I suppose supposed to be a dreamy look into one man’s life, but is this a sense memory visualized for the big screen or is it just the self-indulgent ramblings of an auteur? As Helen (Pinto) tells Rick, “Dreams are nice but you can’t live in them.”

Part of the problem is Malick’s storytelling, or more rightly, lack thereof. The film follows Malick’s trademarked impressionistic style but seems to have been assembled by a Random Shot Generator. Indiscriminate images of Los Angeles flood the screen—wild parties, an Antonio Banderas cameo, earthquakes, palm trees, movie studio back lots—accompanied by mumbled dialogue and Bale’s grim face.

It’s hard to feel compassion or anything else for Rick as he stumbles through relationship after relationship because we are never given any clue as to who he is. He’s a cipher, the walking conundrum with an attitude. If I wanted to spend two hours watching someone having a mid-life crisis I’d look in the mirror rather than spend another minute concerning myself with Rick’s troubles.

I gave “Knight of Cups” one out of five stars because there is something there. I’m just not sure what it is and I’m not sure Malick does either. Tedium, thy name is “Knight of Cups.”


to-the-wonderTerrence Malick took twenty years between making “Days of Heaven” and “The Thin Red Line” and has released just six films in a career that dates back to Badlands in 1973.

Then in the last two years he’s shot and made five films—three set to come out this year and next—a hectic schedule for anyone but particularly remarkable for one of moviedom’s more notorious procrastinators.

But don’t imagine that he is on autopilot, pumping out movies for the sake of plumping up his resume.

His latest film, “To the Wonder,” starring Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem and Olga Kurylenko, is as daring as anything he’s ever made. In fact his disinterest in traditional narrative has taken him from the oblique to almost experimental.

The “story” begins with Neil (Affleck, as a character so taciturn almost all his dialogue could fit on the back of a matchbook) and Marina (Kurylenko) falling in love in Paris. He’s an American, she’s a Ukrainian divorcée with a small daughter (Tatiana Chiline). Relocating to the states their once torrid relationship becomes lice cold. She goes back to Paris, but soon finds herself missing her old life. Meanwhile Neil begins seeing Jane (Rachel McAdams), a friend from high school as a priest, Father Quintana (Javier Bardem), grapples with his own sense of faith.

Some will describe “To the Wonder” as lyrical and provocative while others will use words like impenetrable and pretentious.

It’s show me don’t tell me cinema—there’s very little actual dialogue, and what there is doesn’t really forward the story—that could easily have been subtitled “Olga Dances and Twirls” given the amount of time we spend watching her in whirling dervish mode.

Her endless dipping and weaving aside, “To the Wonder” has all Malick ‘s trademarks in place—LOADS of narration, the restless camera, even close-ups of grass—but as his films become more like visual poems they also become denser and harder to fathom.

Malik’s films are singular, dreamy experiences that polarize audiences. If you’re like Jane, whose mother said was “chasing moonbeams,” then you’ll find something in the abstract way the story is told.

If not, you may identify with another of her lines. “All we had was… nothing.”

Both views are valid and the deciding factor is you. Adventurous viewers will find something beautiful in the impressionistic storytelling and the subtle way Malik connects Mother Nature with human nature. Others may simply be frustrated by the director’s disregard for customary storytelling.


Brad-Pitt-Tree-of-life1Terrence Malick is probably the biggest name director whose movies you’ve never seen. His is the kind of name filmy types like to toss into conversations as a test to see how deep your knowledge of movies runs. Having made just five movies since 1973 he is less productive than a four toed sloth, but as a chef I know used to say, “do you want it fast, or do you want it good?”

His latest, “Tree of Life,” is a star studded look at life, death and the birth of the universe. He compresses the history of the world, mankind and the lives of a Waco, Texas family into two hours and twenty minutes. This coming of age story—or more rightly a coming of the ages story—is impressionistic storytelling, nonlinear, non-story based but not nonsensical.

It’s a deeply spiritual movie—from the Job quote that begins the story to the Amen chorus at the end—that asks the big questions—Why do awful things happen? Are we always in God’s hands?—often in reverential, whispered tones. Style wise Malick constantly tilts the camera upwards, keeping an eye on the heavens.

This is not light summer entertainment. In fact, some will think this is pretentious twaddle, while others will see a movie that replaces traditional storytelling with deep seated feelings.

I’m leaning ever so slightly toward the pretentious twaddle camp, certainly in the film’s first hour, where Malick inserts a long sequence detailing the abovementioned birth of the universe. Faces and lifelike shapes appear in the primordial goop that makes up much of this extended creation scene, and by the time the dinosaurs appear it is hard to remember this is a movie starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn.

What does it mean? Not sure. Narratively it adds little to the film and as artful as it may be it feels too new agey by half. But as pretentious twaddle goes, it’s really beautiful. If this movie was made in 1968 it would have been a “head” movie, delighting stoners at midnight screenings.

But it’s not 1968, so luckily the first forty minutes gives way to a slightly less impressionistic mid section, based mostly in the family home of Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien (Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain) and their three kids. It’s a feel, a hazy look at growing up.
Pitt impresses as the upwardly mobile, but thin skinned tyrant father; a man who thought he did everything right only to discover his instincts were off. There’s also a surprising character arc in a movie that is more about intuition than arcs. The family story is effective, its Malick’s struggle to place it within a much larger context and the constantly shifting points of view that obscure the film’s main point, a questioning of faith in the light of great personal tragedy.

Obscured though the point may be, this is one seriously beautiful film. Malick has his characters talk about living in a state of grace—love everyone, every leaf, every ray of light—and it’s not hard to imagine that is an echo of his filmmaking ethos. He finds splendor in the things we don’t see onscreen very often anymore, a pure shot of fireflies flittering in the darkness, landscapes and nature, unadulterated, left alone to speak for themselves.

Critics will use words like textural, nuanced to describe “Tree of Life.” I’ll add a few more. Heartfelt, willfully obscure and intriguing.