Alex_Lillquist’s review published on Letterboxd:
I start out too many of my "perfect-score" reviews by saying something like "if a film improves your mental health state" or "cures that fever you've had since Saturday" it automatically deserves a perfect score. That is in my mind that best thing you can say about a film. In this case it's vital to say about Malick's Knight of Cups because what the hell can you actually say about this film? Did I love it? Yes I did. Do I know why? Absolutely not. My intellectually capability in talking about a film like this doesn't go far beyond the phrase "shit's dope."
Going into the city by train and bus to catch the 7:05 showing in a theater where the people, like myself, are completely annoyed with the concept of "reserved seating" is an experience like no other. Obtaining a seat that is dead center in the middle of the screen, it becomes hard to complain about scheduling a seat. Only a row behind the perfect row, but really that's neither here nor there when the film started up.
If there was ever a director who perfectly captures the experience of living underwater it's Malick. That seems odd and sounds slightly stupid, but when I try to sum up my overall thoughts of seeing any film by him, and now breathing his creation at the theater, it comes down to the first sentence of this section. It's absolutely due to the way he (or I suppose the always cool Lubezki) shoots his films. It's almost as if you're viewing what's on screen through a window. There's a layer that creates this sort of tropical, gazing effect that makes his films relaxing and completely engaging.
Malick is exploring similar themes (love, life, all that jazz) as he's done in his previous films, but I like the approach he takes this time around with Bale's character. I like how his character only talks throughout overhead narration (I don't think he actually speaks any dialogue in the film aside from it). It adds a lot to his relationship to other characters and how he truly relates to some, falls for others, and loses them all together. It also works on his own journey throughout the film as he tries to find meaning in a life he feels as though has been wasted. The L.A. Malick and Lubezki create is the perfect backdrop for the journey of a lost soul. Bale wanders the O.C. (don't call it that) as T.E. Lawrence straggles through the desert in search of a drop of water. The city switches from a barren ghost town to a midnight rave filled with exotic dancers so seamlessly it becomes haunting. It's just so damn beautiful. It's a journey like no other and accompanied with Hanan Townshend's score I don't think I've ever felt closer to Malick's mind as he explores what life truly is. I've always dug these kind of films and to see Malick still soar in this field is just fantastic.
To the Wonder marked the first Malick film as going from slightly structured experiences to completely free-form, experimental experiences. Cups continues this style even more so and while it is way more loose in terms of a narrative I believe that it's far more accessible than Wonder. I'm probably a bit biased on this front being that I saw it in theaters, free from all sorts of distractions, but not once during Cups did I ever feel it start to drag. It's still not a film for everyone, dear Lord it's not, but for those who are able to get down with Malick at his most spiritual-- it really is a one of a kind film. I love it.
Part of: Malick: Ranked