ByCraig Whyel, writer at
Film & TV news, previews and commentary
Craig Whyel

There are four Best Acting Oscars between Christian Bale (1), Natalie Portman (1) and Cate Blanchett (2). Add in their lesser high status awards and you could probably melt down enough trophy metal to build a car.

They star in Oscar-nominated, writer/director Terrence Malick’s romance fantasy, Knight of Cups.

Consider the stunning visuals in the trailer for the film:

Knight of Cups, it was recently announced, will be released on March 4, 2016.

Bale & Blanchett play an ex-couple.
Bale & Blanchett play an ex-couple.

Now, here comes the baffling statement: The production on the film took place during the summer of 2012.

That would put a lapse between filming and nationwide release of nearly four years.

The gap gives pause to wonder why such a film with such esteemed talent would take so long to get a wide release.

The film reportedly spent two year in post-production.

Plenty to sort out.
Plenty to sort out.

Knight of Cups, which is a reference to a tarot card, revolves around Rick, played by Christian Bale. He is a successful Hollywood screenwriter who takes solace from his psychic pain in women.

His hurt stems from the death of a brother and the very bad situation of another brother.

Rick, as befitting a certain show business stereotype, deals in excess.

Cate Blanchett is Nancy, Rick’ ex-wife and Natalie Portman is Elizabeth, a young married woman whose fling with Rick comes with consequences (no spoilers here).

Bale & Portman.
Bale & Portman.

There is an entertainment-rooted axiom…”if it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage.”

Not so with Terrence Malick.

According to The Guardian, Christian Bale, speaking earlier this year at the Berlin Film Festival, claimed to have played the part of Rick without a script.

The same article went on to mention that Mr. Malick applied the same technique with Sean Penn during the filming of the Tree of Life.

Christian Bale called the writer/director’s approach to film making “improvisational.”

Mr. Malick is his own man.
Mr. Malick is his own man.

Another aspect of Terrence Malick’s approach is that he takes a very long time to make his films which is why he has only seven feature film directing credits in over four decades in the cinema world.

While working as a screenwriter, he reportedly broke from the Hollywood “system” in the early seventies and opted to direct his own scripts and never looked back.

He graduated from Harvard, studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the American Film Institute Conservatory. He once taught philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

To say he is an extremely intelligent, considerably educated man would be an understatement.

  • He definitely sets his own agenda and pace.
  • His critics consider his style as “self-indulgent.”
  • He regularly nixes request for interview and is known as a recluse.

On the other hand, his supporters consider him to be a highly original visionary.

That said, despite the overwhelming critical and popular support for Christian Bale, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett, a Terrence Malick film is an acquired taste.

Still, I wonder if he really needed so much time to complete the film.

Might have something to do with Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman, appearing in another Malick film, called originally titled Lawless, about the music scene in Austin Texas.

Lawless supposedly was filmed concurrent with the production of Knight of Cups. That might have something to do with the long delay. Lawless was then given to the Weinstein Company's production starring Tom Hardy. The film reportedly was re-titled Weightless.

It also stars Ryan Gossling, Michael Fassbinder, Benicio Del Toro, Val Kilmer, Rooney Mara and Holly Hunter.

Little else is known about the project at this time. Some sources claim the film is to be released next year.

Don't hold your breath.


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