L.A. Story

"Knight of Cups"

Lust, longing, and heartbreak loops through Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups, a lyrical drama about a wandering, womanizing L.A. scriptwriter (Christian Bale). It’s not a Player-like farce of the industry, nor does it have much of a plot. Per Malick’s aesthetic, Knight of Cups is an elliptical visual poem told through voiceover. It’s organized into parts named after Tarot cards: Death, Freedom, The Hangman, etc. Each part features a dalliance with someone absurdly attractive, whether it’s Natalie Portman as a married woman, Cate Blanchett as a doctor, Freida Pinto as a model, Imogen Poots as a younger flame, Teresa Palmer as a hippy-dippy stripper. The affairs aren’t sordid or raunchy; rather, they’re lovely as is the rest of the film, shot balletically by Emmanuel Lubezki. At times, Knight of Cups has a documentary feel, gliding from Downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica, swooping into less-than-flattering corners, shining a light on the destitute and degenerate as well as the superficially successful “fabulous” denizens. Mainly, Malick evokes a sublime atmosphere, capturing the overwhelming natural and unnatural beauty of Los Angeles, through its landmarks and iconography—the billboards, the minimalist interior décor of houses nestled in the hills and canyons, the lit pools.  (The Hollywood sign never appears but L.A. outposts like Las Vegas and Palm Springs and Joshua Tree are prominent.) The tone is mostly wistful and affectionate but occasionally lightens; at a Hollywood bash, Tonio (Antonio Banderas), explains, “There are no principles only situations.”

By Alec Julian & Carrie White 


3 thoughts on “L.A. Story

  1. It is a photo-narrative of Los Angeles, the Town. Perhaps, there two stories here, a personal discourse and a poem of the Town. It the first is personal, the second is public. The scenes of nature complement the both. Low flying airplanes are symbols good for both narratives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s