Review: Song To Song

SongToSong

And so the prostitute says, “Create the Illusion, but don’t believe it.”

I am not sure if that is Terrence Malick’s thesis with Song To Song, an elliptical fairy tale of despondency, but the film does feature Val Kilmer wielding a chainsaw on stage at the SXSW music festival, so there is that.

It also embeds clips from Eric Von Stroheim’s Greed, offers heartbreaking relationship advice from punk rock goddess Patti Smith, cheerfully cuts off Iggy Pop in mid-sentence and makes a little time for Natalie Portman to wait tables and attend church services kitted out in Erin Brockovich inspired push-up bras.

Song to Song is Malick’s fifth film in six years, not including his forthcoming Europe-set WWII epic, to be released later in 2017. Apparently, The film has been in production in one way or another for seven years; long enough to recast Christian Bale (or re-purpose his footage into Knight of Cups) and lose Arcade Fire completely in the editing room. This means that the overall process overlaps all the way back with Tree of Life, the touchstone for his current mode of cinema.

The ongoing price to pay for scrapping conventional storytelling (and, you know, actual scripts) has yielded his work some superb benefits … for those keen to tune into his wavelength. Of course, this is not for everyone, and do not be surprised when many film-goers drawn in by the marquee actors and musician cameos flee the experience in frustration. Like it or not, Malick has, for some time now, been in the business of capturing elusive, immersive, Steadicam dreams of time and place that he subtly bends into narrative in the editing room.

Here he films in the in-between spaces of Texas, be it backstage casual at South By Southwest, the concrete and glass boxes of the wealthy, or windswept desert pools in the wilderness. You would not recognize this as the same Austin in the front half of Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof or the sprawling walkabouts of so many a Richard Linkater joint. And though the film features an impressively programmed and multifarious playlist, the soundtrack is less the music, and more the palpable ennui of gorgeous white young things trying to find themselves in a confusing world of indulgence.

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Trailer: Terrence Malick’s Song To Song

After the magnificent Knight of Cups and the egregious Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey in 2016, Terrence Malick is back (so soon) with a rock and roll sour romance (Mike Nichol’s Closer with guitars and keyboards?) featuring some of the best A-list actors working today: Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara and Natalie Portman. Not featured in the trailer are the host of other actors, Cate Blanchette, Clifton Collins Jr., Christian Bale, Benicio Del Toro, Holly Hunter, Angela Bettis, Val Kilmer, and Halley Bennett. Nor do you see the various musicians: Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Johnny Lydon or Arcade Fire.

Shot with his signature style (lots of voice over, wide angle lenses, and pretty much zero emphasis on narrative) with his usual cinematographer, Emmanual Lubezki, if you wanted to know what an indie-rock tale would look like from the elegiac master of cinema, well, the trailer is tucked below.

Song to Song opens on March 17th.

Rowthree Staff Summary of TIFF 2016

Our traditional round-up of impressions and reactions to the massive slate of Toronto International Film Festival has arrived in its ninth edition here in the third row. A always been the case, Row Three staff and contributors along with a few a regular reader or two provide a tiny capsule, a postcard if you will, of all the films that they saw at the festival, accompanied by an identifier-tag: [BEST], [LOVED], [LIKED], [DISLIKED], [DISAPPOINTED], [FELL ASLEEP], [WALKED OUT], [HATED] and [WORST].

Collectively we – Kurt Halfyard, Matt Brown, Bob Turnbull, Mike Rot, Ariel Fisher and Sean Kelly – saw a sizable chunk of the 300+ films shown at the festival. Hopefully this post can act as a ‘rough guide’ for films that will be finding distribution on some platform, whether on the big screen, or small internet enabled screen, in the next 18 months.
 
 

THE SHORT VERSION:

Personal BEST: MOONLIGHT [Mike Rot], [Ariel] & [Matt B.], MANCHESTER BY THE SEA [Bob], NOCTURNAL ANIMALS [Kurt], and LA LA LAND [Sean].

Personal WORST: Several folks were not willing to truly hate anything they saw this year (and that’s cool) but the low-lights were: THE DUELIST [Kurt], ONCE AGAIN [Bob], and DOG EAT DOG [Sean].
 
 
Other Consensus Picks: PATERSON, PERSONAL SHOPPER, CERTAIN WOMEN, AFTER THE STORM, RAW, LOVING and GRADUATION.
 
 
The ‘MASSIVE’ version is below. All our thoughts and impressions from offerings of the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.

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Friday One Sheet: Knight of Cups

Terrence Malick’s latest (of several being released this year) got a poster that takes the title of the film quite literally, as it is designed to look like a Tarot card. It becomes more visually interesting with Christian Bale posed upside down (he does not appear to be falling) against the fool moon over Hollywood, and sticking with the topsy-turvy theme, if you look closely you will see the text for the title of the film has a ghostly inverted version super imposed. Further interesting textual elements are the “A Quest.” While definitely sticking to the design of Tarot cards, this could also be construed as a curious tagline for the film. Lastly, there is a nice amount of space for the credit block at the bottom, which fits naturally with the design.

I love this poster.

Trailer: Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups

Instantly recognizable as a Terrence Malick film, Knight of Cups has the same low-and-wide photography, the philosophical voice-overs, the general human malaise peppered with joy, that has been his signature directorial style since his coming out of hiatus with 1999s The Thin Red Line. Christian Bale plays a rich asshole in California who is reflecting on whether rich asshole was a good of life-goal. Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman co-star, and he extended cast is across the board exceptional: Imogen Poots, Kevin Corrigan, Brian Dennehy, Jason Clarke, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Shea Whigham, Ryan O’Neal, Ben Kingsley, Michael Wincott, Nick Offerman, Wes Bentley, (and Antonio Banderas is apparently on hand in the trailer to reflect women as fruit flavours.)

Whether or not the subject matter is appealing to you, the West coast vistas, and insides of mansions and nightclubs make this one of the top visual looking films of the year.

Not At Odds #4 – Year of Positivity!

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This week on NOT AT ODDS Jandy and I talk about our journey through the year of positivity and how that has shaped our consuming and critiquing of the media. We dabble in some very strange and interesting ideas, so open your mind and get ready to be positive! Side effects may include but are not limited to: enjoyment, happiness, greater self worth, more interesting blog posts, and greater critical acumen.

 

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Friday One Sheet: The Seventh Fire

When you get Terrence Malick to lend his credibility to your documentary, you make darn sure to put his name on the poster. Jack Pettibone Riccobono directs a documentary on a Minnesota Ojibwe reservation that has a gang problem, but he does it from the point of view of a 5-time incarcerated gang leader and his 17 year old protege.

The classic, minimalist one-sheet emphasizes sun down, and the wide open space of the midwest, but the deep red-orange could equally mean love or violence.

The Seventh Fire opens at the Berlinale Film Festival this week. The gorgeous trailer is also tucked under the seat.

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Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups

Knight of Cups

With Cannes off and running, there are going to be dribs and drabs of trailers, posters and film stills as things are hawked in the large film marketplace that dominates the festival (and remains more or less outside of the bulk of press coverage.) Leading the charge is this first still from Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups Christian Bale in his third outing with the director stars alongside with Natalie Portman, who will be possibly following in the (bare) footsteps of Jessica Chastain and Olga Kurylenko. will be starring with Imoogen Poots, Cate Blanchett and Antonio Banderas supporting. The film still itself is about as typical an image from a 21st century Malick movie as one can gets: A couple on a beach, maybe frolicking, maybe twirling.

I’d give you the plot, but would it really matter? You watch a Malick film for the cinematic vitality, not the plot points. Am I excited for this and hope it finds the proper investments to get a bigger release than the woefully neglected To The Wonder? Hell yes.

Review: To The Wonder

“Pourqoi pas Toujours?” Is the question on the mind of Terrence Malick in his latest emotive cinematic meditation. The french phrase which translates to “Why not always?” could have easily been an alternate title for the film. Here the elusive auteur is less overtly concerned with the connections between the personal and the infinite (as he was in Tree of Life.) Yet one could consider To The Wonder a companion film, if only because it is shot and constructed in nearly the same manner – there may even be a shot or two from the previous film used here. Gone, however, is the consideration of fathers & sons and the complex divide between them, or notions of boys coming of age. Here the film suggest that each *age* in a persons life, each chapter, however, where ever, you wish to draw the dividing lines is worthy of no regrets (as Ms. Piaf might sing.) Remaining is the invitation to cherish those discrete packages of time that inevitably, come to an end. Now like all Malick films, you can either find that a trite subject to make a film, but equally like all of the directors work, he is unabashedly earnest about it.

He is perhaps telling us to simply enjoy the miracle that is life, even when it treats you badly. This is examined in relationships both past and present, family, faith and even the current environmental state of the planet. At one point, I even felt that there was some Antonioni geography-is-a-reflection-of-state-of-mind being channeled in the divide between urban Paris and the midwest american suburbs. What the director has kept is the earthy and ethereal treatment of redheads, here former 007 beauty Olga Kurylenko, who like Jessica Chastain before her, gets the chance to both soar and suffer (the shadowy yin to the free-spirited yang) over the course of the films run-time. Many have noted the directors particular fascination with women twirling in summer dresses. Like much of the director’s post-Days of Heaven work, what you will get out of the film depends on whatever you bring into it. To The Wonder will either evoke certain feelings or tweak them in one direction or another.

Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 273 – It’s TIFF 2012!

Thanks once again to Ryan McNeil of The Matinee for dropping back in for our huge TIFF recap (and almost spoiler-free!). Andrew sits in quiet solitude on the sofa, acting mainly as an audience member (admittedly, mostly fiddling with Pinterest and playing Tiger Woods Golf) with much amusement as Ryan and Kurt recap a large chunk of their TIFF experience. Sadly, due to the late hour of recording, there was no time left for The Watch List. We are happy, hoever to kick of the Fall Semester of homework assignments. The discussion gets pretty spirited where there is agreement and disagreement on many of the films screening at this years festival. Drop in again next week for a return to our usual programming: a lengthy discussion on PT Anderson’s The Master and responses to this first volley of homework assignments.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_12/episode_273.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?

TIFF 2012 Review: To the Wonder

“Pourqoi pas Toujours?” Is the question on the mind of Terrence Malick in his latest emotive cinematic meditation. The french phrase which translates to “Why not always?” could have easily been an alternate title for the film. Here the elusive auteur is less overtly concerned with the connections between the personal and the infinite (as he was in Tree of Life) even as one should consider To The Wonder a companion film if only because it is shot and constructed in nearly the same manner. There may even be a shot or two from the previous film used here. Gone, however, is the consideration of fathers & sons and the complex divide between them, or notions of boys coming of age. Here the film suggest that each *age* in a persons life, each chapter, however, where ever, you wish to draw the dividing lines is worthy of no regrets (as Ms. Piaf might sing.) Remaining is the invitation to cherish those discrete packages of time that inevitably, come to an end. Now like all Malick films, you can either find that a trite subject to make a film, but equally like all of the directors work, he is unabashedly earnest about it.

He is perhaps telling us to simply enjoy the miracle that is life, even when it treats you badly. This is examined in relationships both past and present, family, faith and even the current environmental state of the planet. At one point, I even felt that there was some Antonioni geography-is-a-reflection-of-state-of-mind being channeled in the divide between urban Paris and the wide open midwest american suburbs; although perhaps not so and probably not worth considering further. What the director has kept is the earthy and ethereal treatment of redheads, here former 007 beauty Olga Kurylenko, who like Jessica Chastain before her gets the chance to both soar (note the directors particular fascination with women twirling in summer dresses) and suffer in the form of spiritual paralysis. (the shadowy yin to the free-spirited yang) over the course of the films run-time. Like much of the auteur directors post-Days of Heaven work, you will get out of the film what you bring into it. It will either amplify your feelings or tweak them in one direction or another. Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography is of course impeccable and glorious, even with the inclusion of some smart-phone and Skype video into the proceedings.

Would you like to know more…?