Terrence Malick’s unconventional career—he took twenty years off between 1978’s Days of Heaven and his follow-up, The Thin Red Line—means he occupies a less prominent place in the pantheon of great Texas filmmakers than if he were more prolific. If Richard Linklater is our Stanley Kubrick, Robert Rodriguez is our Steven Spielberg, and Wes Anderson is our Woody Allen, the Waco-raised and Austin-based Malick is our Werner Herzog: a true weirdo whose filmmaking style is defined entirely by his own passions and interests, with enough genius to attract the biggest stars in the game even as he makes films seemingly utterly unconcerned with whether anyone else likes them.
That’s abundantly clear in the trailer for his new film, Knight Of Cups, which stars Christian Bale as a movie star caught up in a swirl of lust, temptation, futility, and soul-searching. Alongside Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman, the film looks like an intense, cerebral, and—at times—downright weird exploration of things that few filmmakers are interested in exploring as deeply.
It’s worth noting, as well, that this isn’t the film that Malick has been working on very publicly—at music festivals including Austin City Limits and Fun Fun Fun Fest—for many of the past several years. That film, which remains the Untitled Terrence Malick Project on IMDB, also reportedly stars Bale, Blanchett, and Portman, but it made headlines a few years back when Ryan Gosling posed for a gazillion pictures with fans at Fun Fun Fun Fest while filming.
In any case, given his historically glacial pace for completing his work, the first glimpse of any Terrence Malick picture is big news. Take a look at the first two and a half minutes of footage of Knight Of Cups that anyone has seen below: