"Knight of Cups"
Broad Green Pictures "Knight of Cups"

Some people scoffed and had their own thoughts on what might happen, but it turns out the only accurate word about the arrival of Terrence Malick’s upcoming movies came from actress Isabel Lucas who said we wouldn’t be seeing any of them until 2015. She wasn’t kidding either. Not even one of Malick’s two in-the-works movies were shown at festivals this year, which likely means we’ll see one next year, but theatrical release could have to wait til 2016 if “To The Wonder” is any kind of model.

So Malick has two feature films in the works, “Knight Of Cups” and an untitled drama based on the Austin music scene. ‘Cups’ stars Christian Bale, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett and tells the story of a man, temptations, celebrity, and excess. The second untitled project stars Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, and Blanchett, and is a tale of two intersecting love triangles, sexual obsession and betrayal.

Some new details from both films have surfaced via Italian site Cinefilos, where some footage and sequences were shown to potential distributors at the Professional Days Of Cinema industry event in Sorrento. So let's start with the Austin project, currently going under the name “Project V” (likely just another working title), with the Italian site having this to say (rough translation via Ryan Gosling Addicted):

“From the short footage, we can guess that Ryan Gosling will star, an aspiring rock star. Around him gravitate two characters, one played by Michael Fassbender, who seems to be a business partner of Gosling, someone with whom the character can realize his musical ambitions. On the other side there is the character of Rooney Mara, who in the first part of the footage is clearly Gosling's woman and then seems to weave a clandestine relationship with Fassbender.

Around this love triangle gravitate two other women, Natalie Portman, in a novel blonde who seems to get in the good graces of Fassbender, while Cate Blanchett weaves his way with that of the character of Gosling.

Project V seems to be, for the style, similar to Knight of Cups, but takes over the discourse on '"hardening" of the rhythms that the director seems to have put in place in the film starring Christian Bale. Malick is measured by the world of rock, and automatically the themes and rhythms change and adapt. However, what Malick does is never an adjustment subservient to history, but a slow transformation, gradual and apparently motivated by what appear an artistic reasons. The story seems to come back to become important, to the detriment of what had happened in a rather extreme in The Tree of Life."

So, that doesn’t tell us that much per se, though I suppose it fills in character details of this love triangle, who’s playing who, and a few abstract notions of tone. Not mentioned in the above text however is what role Christian Bale plays. Perhaps he's been cut by Malick, as per usual, finding his movie in the editing bay? Or maybe he just wasn't in the material shown (though that would be an odd decision if you're trying to garner distributor interest). 

As for "Knight Of Cups," which also had some footage screened in Sorrento, Cinefilos doesn't add much more to what we know except that Bale's character is an insecure womanizer "in search of his true self." It also notes the soundtrack mixes classical music with rock 'n roll, which is certainly an interesting turn, though perhaps not totally surprising given that these two movies seem, to some degree, informed by contemporary music.

Which one will we see first? It’s really hard to say, but don’t be surprised if they’re spread far apart and one hits the festival circuit this year and then another the next. If you’re feeling lucky, you could speculate that one will hit Cannes and one will hit Venice, but one has to wonder if that kind of noise cannibalizes the distribution hopes of either or both pictures.

Personally, if I were a producer on both films, I would roll them out one at a time and not reveal the second one until distribution had been secured for the first film, but maybe that’s me. Keep your eyes peeled for more info in the new year. And if you’re a huge optimist, you could hope that one of them will pop up in the next Sundance announcements, but Malick’s a big enough draw for Cannes, so why settle?