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Added by johanlefourbe on 9 Nov 2017 12:02
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A Complete Review of Terrence Malick's work

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People who added this item 64 Average listal rating (40 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.4
A Hidden Life (2019)


Cast : Matthias Schoenaerts, Bruno Ganz, Michael Nyqvist

What was it about?
The Austrian Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector, refuses to fight for the Nazis in World War II.

My two cents:
To be honest, I did start to lose faith with Terrence Malick as his recent directorial efforts were increasingly underwhelming. However, since his last movie had received some solid reviews, I thought I might as well check it out. First of all, it was his most straightforward movie in years which was really refreshing and promising. However, as usual with this director, the damned thing was still quite challenging though. Anyway, Malick might be the most spiritual director I know and it might be his most spiritual movie so far. Indeed, the whole thing was basically a reflection about the soul and, if you would follow the logic of this movie, the redemption of our soul might be actually more important than our own life. However, I'm not sure if I really agree with this assessment. Indeed, WWII was a huge waste of human life, and, in my opinion, with Franz Jagerstatter, the waste was even worse. I mean, it was completely understandable that the guy refused to fight for the Nazis and to choose to rather die than taking part in this massive senseless killing machine was not only courageous but also the only moral thing to do. However, at some point, he was provided a way out and he basically died because he refused to pledge an oath to Adolf Hitler and, in this context, his choice became more dubious, at least, for me. Indeed, if all the people who tragically died back then had been given the same choice, they might have survived after all and his stubbornness felt more selfish and arrogant than really courageous. Still, even though I had some trouble to root for the guy, as usual with Terrence Malick, even if Emmanuel Lubezki was not involved, this movie was quite beautiful to look at and the guy still makes the most poetic movies out there. To conclude, even if I wasn't really blown away, it was still a vast improvement on the previous movies delivered by Malick.

My rating: 07/10

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johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 278 Average listal rating (82 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 5.7
Song to Song (2017)


Cast : Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Holly Hunter, Bérénice Marlohe, Val Kilmer, Tom Sturridge, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith

What was it about?
Two intersecting love triangles. Obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas.

My two cents:
To be honest, since ‘Knight of Cups’ already turned out to be a disappointment, I had lowered down my expectactions concerning this movie. Well, unfortunately, even though it turned out to be slightly better, once again, I still had a hard time to care about the damned thing. I mean, as usual with this director, the whole thing looked awesome thanks to award-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. Furthermore, even if this movie didn’t really find an audience, it was obviously a treat for all the actors involved to work following Malick’s unique way of shooting movies. Eventually, one of the biggest issues with this movie was that its concept and ideas were already heavily used in ‘To the Wonder’ (which barely worked already) and ‘Knight of Cups’ (which was his first really disappointing directing effort). Furthermore, ‘To the Wonder’ had the advantage to be dealing with only one love triangle while this movie had to deal with no less than 3 love triangles involving 5 different couples (Ryan Gosling + Rooney Mara, Rooney Mara + Michael Fassbender, Michael Fassbender + Natalie Portman, Ryan Gosling + Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara + Bérénice Marlohe) which was obviously way too much. I mean, as a result, you get to see some random couple having some random conversation and, of course completely at random, they switch to another couple having as well a random conversation and it goes on like this for more than 2 hours. Eventually, I think the movie could have actually worked if they had removed about 45 mins of random stuff and if they had focused only on the love triangle Gosling-Mara-Fassbender. Anyway, even though this movie has a rather lame reputation, I still think it is worth a look though.

My rating: 06/10

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People who added this item 52 Average listal rating (16 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 6.4


Cast : Cate Blanchett

What was it about?
An exploration into our planetary past and a search for humanity's place in the future.

My two cents:
Back in 2016, I was actually planning to see this movie or, even better, the IMAX version, with my film club but, eventually, it wasn't released at all in the Netherlands so I had to pick up something else after all. Well, after finally watching the damned thing, I'm not sure if it would have been such a great choice and maybe I might have dodged a bullet after all. I mean, it was something really original and even though it was labelled as a documentary, it was something completely different than your average documentary and, at least, it was slightly better than 'Song to Song' and 'Knight of Cups'. Indeed, I really liked the idea of Malick showing us the origins of our universe, something he already experimented with in 'The Tree of Life' and some of the scenes were visually quite impressive. Furthermore, for a director who never cared about the plot, it was a natural move to remove entirely any plot and also the characters. Unfortunately, even though the whole concept of the birth of the universe was pretty neat, he just added too many random stuff for my taste. Furthermore, the narration by Cate Blanchett was just so repetitive, rather pretentious and fairly pointless. Eventually, even though with such a director, it could have become a masterpiece, the whole thing turned out to be only decent but not much more than that.

My rating: 06/10

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People who added this item 258 Average listal rating (112 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 5.7


Cast : Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Wes Bentley, Isabel Lucas Teresa Palmer, Imogen PootsJason Clarke, Joel Kinnaman, Clifton Collins Jr., Dane DeHaan, Nicky Whelan, Beau Garrett

What was it about?
A writer indulging in all that Los Angeles and Las Vegas has to offer undertakes a search for love and self via a series of adventures with six different women.

My two cents:
Unfortunately, this movie turned out to be a major disappointment. Basically, once again, Malick gave us his typical impressionist directing style which is equally mesmerizing and frustrating, at least in my case and, even though you might think that there was no plot, there were in fact 3 plot-lines.First, it seemed that the movie was about a movie writer struggling with his work in Hollywood and I have the feeling that it was supposed to be the main focus in this movie but Malick, I assumed, got bored, pretty much dropped this idea so it was barely developed at all. Then, you had some family issue between the main character, his brother, his father and a deceased brother. It was pretty obvious that this time Malick was recycling some material from ‘The Tree of Life’ and even though it worked better than the movie business stuff, the improvement was only minor. Then, the biggest chunk of the movie was about the main character struggling with his love life and, this time, it felt really reminiscent to ‘To the Wonder’. However, if ‘To the Wonder’ was mostly focusing on the relationship between Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko, in this movie, the main character had some various romances with 6 different women which was just way too much. Basically, you would get Christian Bale wandering around for 20 mins with one girl and then he would switch to another girl for 20 mins and so on and so on… As a result, you never had the opportunity to invest yourself in one of these relationships with such a short time and the fact that there was barely any dialogue and mostly some voice-overs didn’t help either. At least, as usual with this director, the cinematography was just gorgeous and there was a really impressive cast and it was pretty obvious that the actors greatly enjoyed the freedom provided by Malick’s directing style.

My rating: 06/10

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People who added this item 350 Average listal rating (174 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 5.9
To the Wonder (2013)


Cast : Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams Javier Bardem

What was it about?
A writer indulging in all that Los Angeles and Las Vegas has to offer undertakes a search for love and self via a series of adventures with six different women.

My two cents:
It seems that, with each new features, Malick goes more and more autobiographical on us (Malick lived in France for more than a decade and was married with a French women then left her, went back to the USA and reconnected to a former high school sweetheart to whom he is still married today). So, the whole thing meant a lot to him, that’s for sure, but to the viewer, it was a rather difficult task to connect with these characters. Basically, the main character falls in love with a girl, then it goes bad, then he falls in love with another girl, then it goes bad, then he gets back with the first girl but, this time again, it ends bad as well. Throw in a couple of random scenes involving a priest played by Javier Bardem and then you have the whole film. Concerning Ben Affleck, you have to give the guy some credit to go from ‘Armageddon’ to this and even though he was the main character, he had a rather thankless task. I mean, during the whole thing, he was some kind of mute and emotionless statue and I kept wondering if another guy wouldn’t have been better for the job. Bardem didn’t have much to do either but his body language was much more expressive even under such limitations. Concerning Rachel McAdams, I really wonder why her character was even added. I mean, their fling just lasted about 20 minutes at most and it could have been removed without anyone noticing. Eventually, Olga Kurylenko provided the best performance in this movie, which was rather unexpected from a former Bond girl who hasn’t done anything really amazing ever since. I know, I make it sounds as if this movie was pretty bad but it wasn’t, it did like this film. I mean, as usual with Malick, the whole thing was a wonder to watch, especially the opening at the Mont St Michel, there were then hundreds of amazing shots, something only Malick can do and those voice-overs, another Malick trademark, were quite mesmerizing.

My rating: 07/10

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johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 1742 Average listal rating (967 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.8


Cast : Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn

What was it about?
The story of a family in Waco, Texas in 1956. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence and struggles with his parents' conflicting teachings.

My two cents:
Basically, it starts with an awe inspiring introduction which I cannot describe and then the movie went very theological and metaphysical. I guess that since I'm not that smart, I was kind of losing track of the whole thing but then Mallick came again and again with some amazing sequences really beautifully shot with some awesome music, and then I was again completely fascinated by the moving pictures in front of me. I know, this review sounds rather cryptical but so is this movie. Watching this movie is like going to a museum and staring at a masterpiece. Nothing is explained to you but you get some emotional reaction to it, right there in your gut, a reaction which will be really personal and someone else may have a completely different response to it. In my opinion, Brad Pitt gave an amazing performance and displayed once again that he is one of the best actors around and I don't think I have ever seen any children giving such impressive performances before, just mind-blowing. And of course, Malick is an amazing director, actually he is not, he is an amazing artist, something rare nowadays in the movie industry. To conclude, many people won't get this movie and will loathe it. It is definitely one of the the least accessible movie directed by Malick and I'm not sure I did get half of it but it doesn't matter. I touched me very deeply and many times, I thought I was watching myself when the father was messing up his family or when the older boy was getting messed up.

My rating: 08/10

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johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 1174 Average listal rating (687 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.7
The New World (2006)


Cast : Colin Farrell, Q'orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale, David Thewlis, Ben Chaplin, John Savage, Jonathan Pryce

What was it about?
The story of the English exploration of Virginia, and of the changing world and loves of Pocahontas.

My two cents:
I have a rather peculiar relationship with Terrence Malick. Indeed, I think the guy and his work is really fascinating but, sometimes, I actually have a really hard time with his movies. Anyway, even though this movie didn’t get much love, it is actually my favorite one from this director. I don’t know, the first time I watched it, I was completely overwhelmed by its beauty and grace. In my opinion, it is the movie with the best poetic feeling ever put on the silver screen. Basically, watching this movie was like watching a poem but not with words but with images and sound instead. The whole thing was really incredible and it’s too bad none of the other movies directed by Terrence Malick managed to impress me as much as this one (‘The Thin Red Line’ and 'The Tree of Life' were very close though). The weird thing was that the second time I watched it, I wasn’t really impressed and it is as if, the first time around, I was touched by something magical but, the second time around, the magic was gone. Anyway, Terrence Malick is one of the most difficult director at work nowadays, his work is definitely an acquired taste, but, in my opinion, it is his best movie so far.

My rating: 09/10

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johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 1838 Average listal rating (1093 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.6


Cast : Jim Caviezel, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, John Travolta, Elias Koteas, Ben Chaplin, John Cusack, Adrien Brody, John C. Reilly, Woody Harrelson, Miranda Otto, Jared Leto, George Clooney, Nick Stahl, Thomas Jane, John Savage, Tim Blake Nelson

What was it about?
Adaptation of James Jones' autobiographical 1962 novel, focusing on the conflict at Guadalcanal during the second World War.

My two cents:
When this movie was released, there was a pretty good buzz about it so I thought I should check it out. Back in those days, I didn't even know who Terrence Malick was and haven't heard about the legends surrounding him but I sure loved this movie. I must have been 18-19 years old and I had never seen something like that, this mix of metaphysics and war and I was quite blown-away. By now, I have seen all the movies directed by Malick and I have read a lot about the crazy stuff about this guy. Basically, in spite of the poetic tone and metaphysics involved, it is still his most straight-forward and accessible movie to date. Indeed, most of the movie is about the battle of Guadalcanal and it was one of the best depictions of war I have ever seen. One thing that really impressed me was the way they kept switching between characters and it really made sense since war is a confused mess not involving one macho hero but a whole bunch of dudes trying to not get killed. With this switching of characters, you can also try to spot all the familiar actors and there was a whole bunch of them. Out of all of all those guys, Jim Caviezel, a complete unknown at the time, managed to outclass everyone and Malick became so infatuated in his awesome performance and his character that a good chunk of the movie was devoted to him when it wasn't supposed to be the case. It is actually impressive that the movie was really well structured since Malick didn't follow the book at all, didn't follow the script either and spent at least 3 months shooting hours and hours of footage. When it was released, even though it was heralded, it was still overlooked mostly because Spielberg released the much more conventional and far less superior 'Saving Private Ryan'. Anyway, it is probably the most original and one of the best WWII movies I have seen.

My rating: 09/10

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People who added this item 681 Average listal rating (419 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.8


Cast : Richard Gere, Sam Shepard

What was it about?
A hot-tempered farm laborer convinces the woman he loves to marry their rich but dying boss so that they can have a claim to his fortune.

My two cents:
To be honest, unfortunately, pretty much like ‘Badlands’, this movie didn’t quite fulfill my huge expectations. I mean, I did like it, that’s for sure, but I can’t say I was really blown away by the whole thing. Indeed, I didn’t really care about the plot (I’m pretty sure Malick didn’t care for the plot either) and I also didn’t care much about the characters either. It is probably a results of the choice made by Terrence Malick to have the story told by a young child. Even though it had some interesting aspects (it must be one of the most daunting voice-over I have ever heard), it was also terribly alienating as you never get to know the three main characters. It is actually something quite inherent in Malick’s work, the fact that you are never explicitly told what the characters are exactly thinking or feeling, a more realistic approach than your standard Hollywood feature where everything is explained and dumbed down so I understand and usually appreciate this approach but, this time, it was rather frustrating. It was still a fascinating picture though. Indeed, the directing was just flawless and it was definitely one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen. Basically, most of the movie was shot outdoors at dusk or dawn, something technically terribly difficult to achieve but so awe-inspiring to watch. Most of the shots were just so perfectly composed, it was just jaw dropping and, even if you don’t like his movies, you have to admit that the guy is a true artist. Eventually, even though it didn’t really blow me away, it is still a classic.

My rating: 07/10

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johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 867 Average listal rating (540 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.8
Badlands (1973)


Cast : Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek

What was it about?
An impressionable teenage girl from a dead-end town and her older greaser boyfriend embark on a killing spree in the South Dakota badlands.

My two cents:
If I recall it correctly, the first time I watched this movie, it was more than10 years ago when I was living in England. Back then, I wasn’t really familiar with Terrence Malick and I watched this flick because it was considered as a masterpiece. Nowadays, I have seen all the movies directed by Malick but to be honest, I wasn’t exactly blown away by this directing debut. The main issue I had was that the characters were rather aimless, emotionless, filled with a guastly void and, as a result, it was really difficult for me to connect with them and their boredom was highly contagious. Still, like all the work done by Terrence Malick, there was something quite fascinating about the damned thing. Indeed, I loved the way he always challenges the typical narrative conventions and the photography was just superb with some amazing shots. Furthermore, even though I had a hard time to care about the characters, I don’t think Martin Sheen or Sissy Spacek should be blamed since they both gave some very good performances. Anyway, even though I was more able to connect with Malick’s later work, this movie is still a classic and it is definitely worth a look.

My rating: 07/10

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johanlefourbe's rating:

Since I have finally managed to watch all the movies directed by Terrence Malick, I thought I should make one of these lists for this guy as well.

Enjoy!


Added to

43 votes
A Complete Review of various directors' s work (64 lists)
list by johanlefourbe
Published 9 years, 2 months ago 8 comments



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