KNIGHT OF CUPS – A Beautiful and Bewildering film from Terrence Malick

There’s films you see every so often that halfway through you go “This could be the greatest film I’ve ever seen.” Knight of Cups had me at this moment about an hour in, as Christian Bale just stares at the ocean view with the people going by. So much of the film is defined by slow moving cameras that draw you into it’s atmosphere, as strange and hedonistic drama unfolds around it. Much like Malick’s The Tree Of Life, the camera follows people, events of nature and drops you in places you’d never thought it would go.

The plot draws heavily from old poetry and prose, quoting The Pilgrim’s Progress heavily at times through the fractured narrative, but the title is a reference to the tarot card ‘Knight of cups’. The premise of the film is Christian Bale, an unsatisfied and hedonistic screenwriter struggles with his fractured family, his crazy brother and can only find release in becoming absorbed into L.A hedonism, Bret Easton Ellis style. He explores relationships with six women, named for a tarot card each and tried to learn a little from each one that fractures and attempt to become something more. This is conveyed in a very experimental style, echoing his other work but also completely engrossing in it’s own way.

KNIGHT OF CUPS - christian bale
Terrence Malick

The dialogue is never really clear to any characters intentions, and monologues roll between flutters of images, while some jerks giggle in the background. Atmosphere is key here, you appreciate every shot, every location that is seen, but with the passage of time it becomes very emotional. It starts feel like super-emotional humans living in an amoral paradise. The sound design of the film is a stroke of genius, bringing intensity to every scene. It feels like every dream I’ve ever had where I’ve basked in fake sunlight and cooled off next to neon every night.

Teresa Palmer, the always lovely australian

That is how the film felt to me. However it’s understandable that it’s not going to be for everyone. It’s one of the most innovative, amazing films I’ve seen in the past year, but it’s still an art-house film that doesn’t hold your hand at all. It’s experimental to the point of broken in terms of how Hollywood movies are made, but it also is one of the most perfect satires ever made about the film industry. Scenes fly by where Antonio Banderas walks you through a diamond encrusted party, like some sly dog through a Shakespearean whore house, for Cate Blanchett to turn up and slap you across the face for straying. All while Tom Lennon yaps on in the background.

Knight of Cups is certainly weird as hell, randomly dancing across space and time whenever it feels like it, but it’s also an emotionally rewarding experience that you should give a chance. It might not be the greatest film i’ve ever seen, but if it at least made me consider it, that makes it one of the greats.

 

THE BEST YOUTUBE VIDEO IN THE UNIVERSE – THE CARDIACS

I didn’t always spend hours and hours trawling through Youtube for footage. I used to kind of dismiss it. I wonder when it became so integral to my enjoyment of the internet, because now I’m constantly streaming Youtube through my TV to the chagrin of my partner, who hates watching weird pointless stuff. It’s not pointless though, is it! Some of the best stuff is on there. Take this for example.

The Cardiacs were a very theatrical punk band, who was known for their over the top stage shows, and zappaesque off-beat music. A bit more together than some of the punk coming out at that time, (and the acid house scene which had it’s fair share of freaks) but it’s still a fascinating band to go back to. Look at them all, dressed up like some sort of new-wave Casey Tatums, smashing into each other like they hate themselves and the world around them. Do you know of a band still going today that acts this freaky, and are actually good?

 

HATEFUL EIGHT (ROADSHOW 70mm)

REVIEW – HATEFUL EIGHT (ROADSHOW 70mm)

The filmhouse cinema has the 70mm edition for a couple weeks and I thought it’d be too good a chance to miss the experience that Tarantino has bragged about for months now.

Is it worth it? I hadn’t seen his latest offering until this edition came to Edinburgh, but I’m sure glad I waited. As soon as the lights dim, and the first overture by Morricone starts to play you know you’re in for a treat. Tarantino has always tried to bring back the old school into modern cinema, to varying degrees of success. Grindhouse, his collaboration with Robert Rodriguez failed to make an impact on American audiences, leading to it being canned internationally, with the double feature being split up to make up the losses. With the extra touches he has put on the 70mm reIease, it’s clear that he’s succeeded to bring the cinematic experience he’s envisioned for a long time. Never probably seeing 70mm before I can see why it’s so talked up now – The quality is not only astonishing, but the width of the screen is almost double what we’re used to. There’s just so much to see on screen at any time, it’s unlike any film my poor 4:3 eyes have ever seen before.

The film as well, is amazing. The cast is well rounded by veterans of the Tarantino Universe, from his first film (Tim Roth, Michael Madsen) and from his last (Bruce Dern, Walton Goggins) as well a stunning few newcomers (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Channing Tatum). The story takes place in the midst of a blizzard in post-civil war Wyoming, as a group of gunslingers are forced to come face to face with one another in a cabin. All the characters have charm oozing from the eyeballs, Jennifer Jason Leigh gives a rousing performance as the Bounty of Kurt Russell’s ‘Hangman’ – and Tim Roth being charming in his cutesy English way.

The one thing about the hateful eight I felt was that it felt quite like Pulp fiction, a film celebrating it’s 22nd birthday this year. Tarantino is truly a master of structure, placing scenes in certain places to get something different from the film when you watch it again. Much like in Pulp fiction, the hateful eight sees characters perish and come back to life through the non-chronological way the story is told. It’s these attentions to plot that made this mystery-western of 3 hours long worth sitting through.

There is an intermission, and the projectionist comes out to tell us when the films back on, and then more of Morricone’s fantastic score comes to lead us back into the fray. The little things really made this movie for me – I didn’t realise how privileged we were to see extra footage not included in the digital cut, but no scene felt like it went on too long – I relished every minute of it. For most films I see these days, I feel a bit of apathy for the cinema going experience, – people talking and on their phones, bad writing and too much CG. The hateful eight made going to the cinema make me feel like a kid again, even though it was to see an incredibly gory movie and for that I am greatful. Truly, the magic of cinema is not lost – not as long as we have Mr. Tarantino pushing the forgotten lives of cinema houses back into the present.

Vancouver, B.C

I woke up in the Samesun on Granville, sirens blaring through the window. They went on forever, but I couldn’t see any cars. Just kids, smoking pot in the alley. Vancouver has a beautiful skyline surrounded by mountains, parks and trees, and a hard partying crowd that hangs out downtown. The hostels in the centre go from friendly to crazy. The Samesun hostel had a cheap bar which made it easy to get together with strangers, but the American backpackers down the street had a $100 reward for ratting out any crackheads in your room. Most of the best bars are for backpackers like the Cambie in Gastown, but the most memorable moments are spent walking around smoking grass.

I woke up in the Samesun on Granville, sirens blaring through the window. They went on forever, but I couldn’t see any cars. Just kids, smoking pot in the alley. Vancouver has a beautiful skyline  surrounded by mountains, parks and trees, and a hard partying crowd that hangs out downtown. The hostels in the centre go from friendly to crazy. The Samesun hostel had a cheap bar which made it easy to get together with strangers, but the American backpackers down the street had a $100 reward for ratting out any crackheads in your room. Most of the best bars are for backpackers like the Cambie in Gastown, but the most memorable moments are spent walking around smoking grass.

Hastings Street is home to the B.C Marijuana party, Cannabis culture magazine headquarters and the New Amsterdam Cafe. None of these places will sell you anything, but you can come in and smoke up. A quick search online showed me the best deal in town so I walked down to a safehouse, which I later found out was run by the Hell’s Angels. It was tense at first, but when I realised everyone buying from them were businessmen on their lunch break, those bikers are like pussycats.

I met an Englishman and brought him to the cafe to smoke indoors, but even these guys have their limits telling us that there’s no smoking until 5pm. We went to Hastings Park to smoke until our conversation petered out. I realised we were too far gone to talk to each when we came back to the cafe, but perhaps that’s the way they like it in the New Amsterdam. It is a fun place to hang out with strangers, but still a place to be wary of. East Hastings epitomises the dark side of soft drug culture in the city, consisting of one long line of homeless people. The city has one of the highest rates of drug abuse in the country, and it shows. There are needle dispatch points in all the parks, homeless people will actively get off their ass to plead and follow you, not even always for money but maybe for a bite of your sandwich.

The American couple came up from Seattle to do a couple days partying, the girl was only 20 but legal to drink here. Her husband was a Christian minister, yelling “I’m smoking pot!” at cops with a joint hanging out his mouth as they try to turn a blind eye.  We got in his rusty car to go by Stanley Park, a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the pacific, trying to see if any whales wanted to say hello.

The city has one of the biggest film industries in the Americas which might be why it feels like you are in a movie when walking around town. It is a beautiful city with strange character one best seen through a haze of smoke, shared with strangers trying to figure out where you have seen that corner before.