Knight of Cups

Director: Terrence Malick
Year Released: 2015
Rating: 1.5

Writer Rick (Christian Bale), living in Los Angeles, drifts around people he's met in his life - his exes, his lovers, his family members - uttering banalities (in voice-over) while photographed by Emmanuel Lubezki and staring off into the heavens. It's loosely (very, very loosely) structured around tarot cards ("The Tower," "The Hanged Man") and possibly autobiographical, but it's also aimless and, quite frankly, empty: wow, Hollywood decadence can get out of hand and wow, there are so many beautiful women around for Bale to roll around with or run his fingers through their hair. Improvisation can produce amazing results - allegedly, Wong's masterpiece Chungking Express was shot without a script - but here it's a vacuous (if gorgeous) affair, saved (visually) by one of the best cinematographers in the world. For a fellow who studied philosophy (at Harvard, at Oxford) and made several meditative masterpieces, Malick should have realized this needed something resembling a strong thesis. If it's the work of a 72-year-old man working out personal demons ... well, the audience isn't your best psychiatrist.