Terrence Malick‘s “To The Wonder” “makes ‘Tree of Life‘ look like ‘Transformers,’ ” Ben Affleck said in 2012, just a few weeks before the film was unveiled to audiences for the first time in Venice. Some viewers loved it, but not everyone was impressed. One thing we can probably all agree on, Affleck’s comments, while well-intentioned, were a bit ridiculous, even meaningless (especially given that he kind of backtracked and sort of suggested the “half-crazy” experience was a bit frustrating).
Producers and billionaire scions Ken Kao and Alex Walton, Kao being one of the financiers on the project, gave a few more details about Malick’s latest film, “Knight of Cups,” in an interview with THR. We know the movie is about excess in Hollywood, but Kao filled in a few more details. “Christian Bale plays Rick, who is a screenwriter and filmmaker living in California,” he said. “From the outside, it looks like he has everything. Inside, he’s empty in a lot of ways, and this is his journey of figuring out a way to fill the void.”
Malick’s long-time editor, Billy Weber, suggested in 2013 that “Knight Of Cups” is less experimental and less dialogue-free than “To The Wonder,” but the first trailer for the film looked just as lyrical and rather similar. Maybe it is?
Kao says the movie is a “stream-of-consciousness film,” one that “[Malick] was very frustrated by.” What does the latter part mean? Well, the THR journos asked why the film took so long to make (“Knight of Cups” started shooting in 2012). “It’s all about calibrating expectations,” Kao said. “So, very early on, I threw out the idea that he was going to deliver the film on time. What I did do was encourage Terry to ask for help. His process is to shoulder most of the load and feel very protective about what he’s doing.”
How long ago was the film shot? Christian Bale was dealing with the aftermath from “The Dark Knight Rises” shooting. “It was a tough time for [Bale] because [The Dark Knight Rises] was going on and the whole Aurora, Colo. [shooting] thing,” Kao said. “You could see it really frayed him. And he’s a total method actor, too. So it’s a challenge for him. It’s not easy to show up and stare off into the sky for five or six hours of the day.”
Staring off into he sky? That sounds like Malick alright. As for some of the other actors in the film? Antonio Banderas recently told Collider he’s not sure if he’s playing himself in the film or what. “I arrived to the set and basically what [Malick] said to me, ‘Antonio, we didn’t send you a script because we don’t have a script and so this monologue that I gave you,’ which literally didn’t make sense whatsoever, ‘I’m gonna shoot it in nine different locations and I’m gonna just improvise with you, and I’m gonna send you something that I call torpedoes.’ And these torpedoes, they were people that came in the middle of the monologue and started improvising with me. He sent me a beautiful woman, he sent me an old lady, he sent me a bunch of three guys that are rappers. I ended up in a pool with three ladies with my tuxedo.”
Asked whether he read the monologues as himself or the character, Banderas said, “I don’t know, actually. I don’t know. But I am very curious to see what this genius of movies did.” We’ll know more soon. “Knight of Cups” makes its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February.