Total Pageviews

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Writer's Life 9/10 - Art or Pretension?

Terrence Malick continues on the avant garde track he began after The New World (2005). Beginning with The Tree of Life (2011), he has presented fragments of stories, beautifully shot, and completely puzzling. Knight of Cups (2015) continues along this path. It begins with a voice-over: "Once there was a young prince whose father, the king of the East, sent him down into Egypt to find a pearl. But when the prince arrived, the people poured him a cup. Drinking it, he forgot he was the son of a king, forgot about the pearl and fell into a deep sleep." It is from the fictitious Hymn of the Pearl in the Acts of Thomas (the apostle) in the Apocrypha. The hymn is commonly interpreted as a view of the human condition, that we are spirits lost in a world of matter and forgetful of our true origin. The main character of Knight of Cups dwells in the modern world, apparently rich. He represents the prince and is played by Christian Bale. Bits and pieces of his life, past and present, are shown. The camera is frequently moving forward, which seems to indicate constant searching. He has known many lovers, may even be a father. In such a film, the actors are secondary to the cinematography. Emmanuel Lubezski shot the beautiful landscapes. This is not the type of work that will be clear on initial viewing. I watched the 10-minute Making of... in the Special Features section to get a better handle on the narrative. It helped. According to it, the dialogue was completely improvised. Since there was no close captioning, much of it was indecipherable to me. Fortunately, a significant amount is listed on the movie's page at IMDB. It includes this gem spoken by the father, played by Brian Dennehy: "You think when you reach a certain age things will start making sense, and you find out that you are just as lost as you were before. I suppose that's what damnation is. The pieces of your life never to come together..." Will I view it again? I doubt it. I prefer traditional story-telling. Is it art or pretension? It is art for an exclusive set. Many critics have called Malick a genius. Although his last three films have been disastrous financially, he continues to find backing - and respected artists love working with him. He allows them the freedom to create, to improvise, to do something different. Oscar winners Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman, as well as Antonio Banderas, Cherry Jones and Armin Mueller-Stahl appear in Knight... It runs almost two hours. While viewing, I was frequently looking at the clock. Such work requires patience. It is more appealing to artists than the mainstream. 13,000+ users at IMDb have rated it, forging to a consensus of 5.7 of ten. I have no clue what to rate it. It is a difficult piece.

My thanks to Sue, a local realtor, who bought Billionths of a Lifetime and also donated several cook books and a Lucille Ball bio that sold immediately. She has read five of my other seven books, skipping only on the high-school-football-based Adjustments. I grew up across the street from five of her cousins and worked with another at the Commodity Exchange. As we were catching up, I asked if she'd seen Bad News Billy lately, and she came up with a 30-year-old story about him. I've known him only as generous, a soft touch. While working as a roofer, he was atop a bank and got the bright idea to try and rob it. Sue doesn't remember the exact details (simple note, gun?), but Bill spent time in prison. I also learned the "grandkids" who are living with him aren't related to him biologically. They were dumped on him by an ex-girlfriend. She knew he wouldn't throw them in the street.
My thanks also to the other kind folks who bought and donated books. I had good news from my weekly check of my Amazon stats. Someone downloaded Close to the Edge to Kindle, and someone read 18 pages of Rising Star. Amazon generously pays for reads. I'm not sure if it's a penny a page. Whatever it is, it's greatly appreciated. It's nice knowing people actually examine your work.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:

No comments:

Post a Comment