It’s not easy to be a small film production-distribution company these days, especially amongst Hollywood juggernauts like Warner Bros. and Disney-Marvel that churn out multiple successful multimillion-dollar tentpoles every year. Broad Green Productions has been stuck in a rut recently with a string of underperforming releases this year, and has shut down its production division, laying off 15 to as many as 75 employees.
To say that Terrence Malick’s films have grown increasingly divisive would be an understatement; his dizzying (literally, there’s so much spinning), dreamlike aesthetic is something that is seemingly only loved or hated, rarely — if ever — eliciting a tepid reaction in between. (I’ve never seen someone walk out of a Malick film, shrug and say, “Eh, it was just okay.”) According to a very suggestive Facebook post, Paul Schrader, the Golden Globe-nominated screenwriter of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, has come out firmly in the hate camp — at least as far as Malick’s latest is concerned.
Cate Blanchett is the type of actress that continues to mesmerize and surprise us. She can give dramatic performances as riveting as ones in Blue Jasmine and Carol, transform into a decadent menace as Cinderella’s evil stepmother, then play a Marvel villain in Thor: Ragnarok. But in case you’re not totally sold on Blanchett’s otherworldly versatility, her latest film will seal the deal.
When an actor works with Terrence Malick it means throwing out everything they’ve ever learned in drama school or on a film set. Whatever script they might have initially read goes out the window, and Malick asks his performers to just, be. Maybe he’ll hand an actor a scrap of paper with am aphorism written across it. Maybe he’ll give them some minor stage direction, then let the camera follow from there. Michael Fassbender recently described Malick’s style as giving his cast “flavors as opposed to direct commands or instructions.” Some actors love it; others notoriously hate it.
If you can’t decide what to watch this weekend, ScreenCrush’s Staff Picks are here to help. They’re like the recommendations at an old video store, except you don’t have to put on pants or go outside to get them. Here are six things to watch this weekend:
Last week I had a dream that Terrence Malick suddenly came out of the woodwork and started doing interviews. Not that I’m psychic or anything, but I think I’m kinda psychic. On Saturday the famously reclusive filmmaker, who hasn’t given a print interview since 1973, showed up at SXSW for a 30-minute talk with Richard Linklater and Song to Song star Michael Fassbender. It was an incredibly rare chance to hear about his filmmaking process, his personal life, and to actually see the guy in the flesh. On top of that, Malick fans got to learn even more rare details about the director’s work and life in a new in-depth profile.
Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: The new Terrence Malick film opens with a Die Antwoord song. The past several years have been the most productive of the reclusive filmmaker’s career as he’s been churning out more movies now than in the first three decades of his time as a director, but they’ve also been his most surprising.
Terrence Malick likes being caught on camera about as much as he likes plots in his movies; in other words, not at all. So it was pretty extraordinary a few years ago when he was filmed working with Christian Bale at the Austin City Limits film festival.