Knight of Cups ★★★½

To the Wonder was more lucid, but the images are (even?) more dazzling here. The through-line in that one was Love - carnal love vs. divine - the catalyst here may be Beauty, that being the spur (we're informed) that prompts the soul to recover its wings (Malick's constant theme in these late, abstract films is that Man is a fallen creature who's forgotten his true self: "We're not living the lives we're meant for"). Maybe that makes it OK that the female characters mostly stand around looking beautiful, or maybe Malick's films are so much extensions of his personal journey now that he can't be expected to flesh out the women - or maybe he just sees them as angels, one of them appearing in a dream then later in real life (she's "from another world", which turns out to be Australia) to help our hero 'fly' above the world, women conflated - presumably inadvertently - with children a couple of times ("I remember how she touched my face tenderly... when she was four years old"). Characters echo and complete each other, like the cards in the Tarot pack (the Knight of Cups himself is a spiritual, intuitive figure), e.g. Natalie Portman says love is rare but Antonio Banderas says he falls in love all the time; the visuals often sing, though the constant wide-angle shots give a sense of industrial space that's the opposite of intimacy (the film sorely lacks the grounding aspect which the family unit brought to The Tree of Life). All in all, imperfect but unique; Malick may be something of a pain, but we'll miss him when he's gone. Possible key moment: V.O. asserts that "Anything is possible", cut to a Hollywood script meeting (our first indication that hero works in the film industry); anything is possible, if only they accepted that.