Insubstantial as the wind. That’s mild compared to what Pauline Kael said about Malick’s Badlands: “The film is a succession of art touches. Malick is a gifted student, and Badlands is an art thing, all right, but I didn’t admire it, I didn’t enjoy it, and I don’t like it” (“Sugarland and Badlands,” The New Yorker, March 18, 1974). Forty-two years on, Malick is till making those art things. Nevertheless, I might go see Knight of Cups. I’m curious about those underwater dog shots.
Postscript: It should be noted that The New Yorker's Richard Brody has consistently championed Malick’s work. He says of Tree of Life, “Malick daringly tries to capture not just memories but the feelings aroused by the act of memory—indeed, to represent subjectivity itself, by way of the cinema” (" 'The Tree of Life': Roots and Shoots"). In "The Cinematic Miracle of 'To the Wonder,' " he writes, “There is perhaps no film in the history of cinema that reveals such attention to light, which seems to suffuse the space of every frame and to imbue the characters with its moral and spiritual element.” And in his "Terance Malick's 'Knight of Cups' Challenges Hollywood to Do Better," he calls Knight of Cups “one of the great recent bursts of cinematic artistry, a carnival of images and sounds that have a sensual beauty, of light and movement, of gesture and inflection, rarely matched in any movie that isn’t Malick’s own.” This is eloquent praise. But I’m not persuaded. Malick is way too cosmic for my taste.