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Terrence Malick To Shoot 'Lawless' & 'Knight Of Cups' Back-To-Back In 2012, Both With Christian Bale

by Kevin Jagernauth
November 1, 2011 8:20 AM
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Cate Blanchett Stars In Both Pics Too; 'Lawless' Co-Stars Ryan Gosling, Haley Bennett & Rooney Mara; 'Knight Of Cups' Co-Stars Isabel Lucas

Here's today's big breaking news: Terrence Malick is prepping to shoot two films in 2012, "Lawless" and "Knight Of Cups," with both pictures starring Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett.

Okay, so let's take these on one at a time. Let's start with "Lawless." This is the film that got Malick fans going in September when Christian Bale and the production hit the Austin City Limits music festival by surprise, shooting on the grounds and the backstage. Haley Bennett had already been announced as one of the co-stars of the film, but just-revealed new additions to the project are Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara.

Nicolas Winding Refn spilled the beans on Gosling's participation late in the summer, alluding to the fact he had a role in an upcoming Malick film, which, of course, is being kept under wraps for now. However, here's what we can tell you (in case you missed it yesterday). We’ve been told by folks very close to the production that the filming was actually pre-production work (confirmed in today's announcement), and that Bale was on hand working out and finding his character. The actor went method for much of his time on the grounds, interacting with with some of the artists backstage apologizing in advance for any rudeness by saying his character in the movie is kind of an “asshole.” So yeah, don't bet on that footage making it in to the final film.

As for "Knight Of Cups," this a completely left field surprise. This too will star Bale and Blanchett, along with Australian actress Isabel Lucas, probably best known so far for her role in "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." No details on this second project either, of course, but the title may refer to the tarot card that represents a contradiction, moodshift or a change of mode particularly as it pertains to love and relationships. Both films are currently in pre-production, with Malick planning to shoot them back-to-back in 2012.

But let's clear up the confusion -- these are two new films in addition to the untitled romance (aka "The Burial") that stars Ben Affleck and Rachel MacAdams among others, and the documentary "Voyage Of Time." Moreover, they are being described as "separate narratives" so don't expect some kind of "The Hobbit"-style two-fer. That's right, Malick now has four movies on the slate. If we were worried about Steven Soderbergh retiring, it looks like Malick is going to be picking up the slack on his work ethic.

This is some pretty massive news, and while there was all kinds of speculation about what Christian Bale would be doing post-"The Dark Knight Rises," it looks like the bulk of his 2012 has been booked so you can likely forget about him for "Oldboy" and whatever other projects were crossing his desk. This is a pretty great move by the actor, undoubtedly with his clout helping to get these pictures financed, but if you've watched the extras on "The New World" BluRay, the actor clearly had a blast working with Malick, and so it's a good opportunity to try and recreate that experience again.

That's all for now, but surely more to come on both projects in the weeks and months ahead. We couldn't be more thrilled. Here's the press release for the full details.

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  • Glass | November 2, 2011 4:08 AMReply

    "Helgi, you don’t want other filmmakers to get the attention he’s getting. Clearly, YOU want the attention he’s getting."


    Cool news, but this pretty much guarantees that "The Burial" won't be out until AT LEAST 2013, and Voyage of Time could be a goner. I'd place a lot of money on nothing from him seeing the light of day in 2012, now.

  • jbean | November 2, 2011 3:32 AMReply

    its ok...all you that don't jive with malick....

    go watch your slam bam hollywood blockbusters...and things that "make sense"

    Malick is the best living film maker and a true artist at that...if you don't get that, then you never will

  • bunty | November 2, 2011 3:03 AMReply

    Bale becomes the closest thing to Malick's go-to guy. Not bad, considering how much he chops and changes his personnel.

  • Christopher Bell | November 2, 2011 1:42 AMReply

    Helgi, you don't want other filmmakers to get the attention he's getting. Clearly, YOU want the attention he's getting.

  • Helgi | November 1, 2011 12:47 PMReply

    I find it interesting that the editor of this site finds time and space to throw some hard pieces of the alphabet at me. So be it.

  • Kevin Jagernauth | November 1, 2011 12:21 PMReply

    The only thing worse than devout, everything-Malick-does-is-genius fans are the he's-overrated-never-made-a-good-movie or Badlands-is-his-only-good-movie dorks.

    For me personally, I'm just excited that a director with an actual voice who mounts ambitious stuff is getting suddenly getting a more films off the ground now than he's made in decades. Obviously, this is big news.

  • Thomas | November 1, 2011 12:18 PMReply

    "Thomas, so because you like leaves and Malick makes a movie about a lot of leaves - he´s a great film director?—Really, you make a lot of noise about - leaves. You are right, he´s not me cup of tea. I prefer coffee."


    You're just being dumb now. If you really think that all anyone could see in his films is "leaves" you're being far more blind and irrational than even his most devoted fans.

    But to give you a more serious answer than you deserve - he's a great film director because of his mastery of the various elements of film - you know, things like editing and cinematography and the use of sound/music, and for his ability to bring all those things together to create films of great beauty and emotional resonance (though I don't think all of his films are equally successful - I'm fairly ambivalent about "The Thin Red Line," and only really love "Badlands" and "The New World") Not a difficult concept really, but I can understand why you would have a hard time grasping it.

  • Thomas | November 1, 2011 12:11 PMReply

    "My life does not depend upon this argument, but I sincerely hope that in the near future young, old, and unknown directors will be found, unearthed, discovered, brought back to life, instead of all this Terence Malick jerkoff-journalism. Way to go, work to do, Playlist."

    In other words, you hope that someday the world of film will be shaped around your own personal tastes and interests. I guess we can all share that sentiment to some extent, but hopefully most of us will also realize how irrational and narcissistic it is. Like it or not, Malick is most likely here to stay - considering the greatness of several of his films, I'd suggest that that's not a bad thing (though I'm all for new directors being trumpeted.)

    In other words, it would be great for "young, old, and unknown directors" to be discovered and rediscovered - though when that does occur it's probably not going to be at the expense of Terrence Malick's reputation.

    What's happening here is less "Jerkoff-journalism" (really, you couldn't be more hopelessly biased with that term - an announcement of two new films by an important director is important news by any standard, regardless of your own personal feelings of his work) and more "Here's a director a lot of people really love and so we're going to write about some major news in his career."


    It's fun seeing how frenzied some of Malick's detractors get at the mere mention of his name - far more frenzied, incidentally, than the people they're attacking for being slavishly devoted to him.

  • Helgi | November 1, 2011 12:09 PMReply

    Thomas, so because you like leaves and Malick makes a movie about a lot of leaves - he´s a great film director? -- Really, you make a lot of noise about - leaves. You are right, he´s not me cup of tea. I prefer coffee.

  • Thomas | November 1, 2011 12:01 PMReply

    "But all this hype about a director that hasn’t made a good movie in some forty years is pretty ridiculous."

    I know, it's so freaking ridiculous when other people have different opinions than me.

    (For the record, "The New World" was a great film, and "Tree of Life" was good, so your estimated date of his last good film is off by about forty years.)

    In fact, "The New World" was his best film, closely followed by "Badlands," so there's really not a single trajectory of evolution or devolution in his work.

    "But I hate this set of adoring critic community when they praise a director time and time again without merit. Terence Malick is way overpraised."

    Malick's not overrated - he's just not your cup of tea.

    The reason they praise him is because they find an enormous amount of merit in his work - to them (and to me) he's one of the best, most interesting directors working today. More specifically, his films have a strong personal resonance with some audiences, so you are going to see more passionate feelings about his films than you might see about the works of lots of other directors.

    You may not like his films, and that's perfectly fine - but this furor over people getting excited about multiple upcoming films from a director that they really like and whose work resonates with them is kind of stupid. You can call it people getting excited by "every sweat of his face" - but, really, it's simply people anticipating the new films by a director they revere. I don't like Christopher Nolan or Lars von Trier or Michael Haneke or lots of other directors revered by certain parts of the film community, but that doesn't mean I'm going to be annoyed when other people anticipate their films and are really excited to receive updates about what they're working on.

    It's not the fans who seem irrational and annoying here - it's the people who feel the need to come here and declare him the "most overrated director ever" or to call out others for daring to like a director that they don't personally don't like.

  • Helgi | November 1, 2011 11:51 AMReply

    My life does not depend upon this argument, but I sincerely hope that in the near future young, old, and unknown directors will be found, unearthed, discovered, brought back to life, instead of all this Terence Malick jerkoff-journalism. Way to go, work to do, Playlist.

  • dangerf | November 1, 2011 11:34 AMReply

    Um, no. Badlands is my favorite and I like all his movies. Just because his style hadn't become what it is today doesn't make it any less Malick. For me it's a truly strange and haunting vision, and as dense as any Malick film after it. I also don't think a more conventional narrative is the reason it's so great, so don't lay that argument on me. Citizen Kane is also "more conventional" than Mr. Arkadin. Doesn't make it any less great.

  • Helgi | November 1, 2011 11:27 AMReply

    I really like the character of Terence Malick, not traveling on the commercial waves of movies, but reality sets in, even early. I like some movies that don´t appeal to even 1% of the critic community. But I hate this set of adoring critic community when they praise a director time and time again without merit. Terence Malick is way overpraised. He has the technical know-how but not the how-how.

  • bunty | November 1, 2011 11:18 AMReply

    Badlands is Malick's Pablo Honey.

  • Helgi | November 1, 2011 11:11 AMReply

    I´m there: if you like rambling images as a movie, you´re right on the spot.

  • Styles | November 1, 2011 11:03 AMReply

    I'll just go there: if you think Badlands is his best film, you do not understand this filmmaker at all.

  • Sam J. | November 1, 2011 11:01 AMReply

    Malick hasn't made a freaking good movie in years, The New World was well shot I suppose. But all this hype about a director that hasn't made a good movie in some forty years is pretty ridiculous.

  • Helgi | November 1, 2011 10:40 AMReply

    This Terence Malick-jerkoff is really getting out of hand. Every sweat of his face is exciting news to you. Please. Common. The man is a painter and poet. As a film director, do I dare to say story-teller, he´s a difficulty coping. Maybe he´ll make it in another 40 years. His best movie to date is Badlands. Terence Malick is the most overrated movie director in the world.

  • starway2001 | November 1, 2011 9:46 AMReply

    Here's every Terence Malick film in one sentence. Ready? "We, as mankind are terribly flawed, but we continue to persev...oh look! A preying mantis!"

  • Callum Q | November 1, 2011 9:42 AMReply

    This news just made my week.

  • David | November 1, 2011 9:22 AMReply

    Could Knight of Cups be Malick's "Gawain and the Green Knight" project?

  • zatopek | November 1, 2011 9:17 AMReply

    Knight of Cups is a card in Tarot.

    Tree of Life has a masterpiece hidden inside it. Also New World started out great but the ending is underwhelming. Malick needs a new editor (or several).

  • Hell yeah | November 1, 2011 9:17 AMReply

    Pardon I just left out a lot of periods in my comment below.

  • Hell yeah | November 1, 2011 9:16 AMReply

    I am so excited. he is my favorite director I was lucky enough to meet the guy, so shy but so am I. Intelligent, respectful man who is so talented The New World blew me away. I saw it alone and it moved me. I am beyond excited for these films. Excellent actors and fantastic director!

  • jbean | November 1, 2011 9:03 AMReply


    sorry for your loss....tree of life was about alot more than dinosaurs...

    also...the new world was the shit

  • fadafd | November 1, 2011 9:02 AMReply

    @who cares? Those movies weren't underwhelming to everyone. That's why certain people can't stop with the "holy shit" excitement.

  • drdang | November 1, 2011 8:57 AMReply

    I love that Bale is probably going around yelling at people and then immediately stating "I'm sorry I'm just method acting and my character is kinda of an asshole."

  • who cares? | November 1, 2011 8:56 AMReply

    The Tree of Life wasn't very good, neither was The New World... so I don't really get the excitement over this.

    The Tree of Life buildup (dinosaurs!) was for nothing but a let down and way over blown. Obviously he is still well respected so actors will want to work with him and it's cool he's working again as opposed to hibernating, but I think we can stop with the "holy shit" excitement consider his last 2 movies were pretty underwhelming so why get your hopes up for these?

    Cate Blanchett's performances in "Hanna" and "Indy 4" I think can also attest to the fact that she is horrid in just about everything she does these days...ugh. This is going to be obnoxious.

  • Ken | November 1, 2011 8:55 AMReply

    This just in...

    the state of Florida is too close to call

    Also, Terrence Malick is also shooting a third film in 2013... it's another romance film... may or may not star Colin Ferrell and Jessica Chastain...

  • Starway2001 | November 1, 2011 8:51 AMReply

    Yay! More shots of birds!

  • buntyhoven | November 1, 2011 8:46 AMReply

    Loving this gradually-updating live-blog! Are you receiving updates via telegram from Malick himself?

  • STYLES | November 1, 2011 8:46 AMReply


  • Edward Davis | November 1, 2011 8:42 AMReply

    @ken, Correct.

    2 new ones, the Burial (w/Affleck) and then Voyage of Time (though don't count on that one coming anytime soon I don't think).

  • buntyhoven | November 1, 2011 8:42 AMReply

    Fuck yeah! "Knight of Cups," what can it mean? Sounds like a Comedy Central fraternity-based comedy about flip-cup champions. Could this be Malick's own Animal House?

  • Ken | November 1, 2011 8:40 AMReply

    Wait... these two and there's the Ben Affleck one that may or may not be called "The Burial" and there's "Voyage of Time"?

  • Andrew | November 1, 2011 8:39 AMReply

    At this point, I'm just assuming Malick got some sort of terminal diagnosis in the last year or so. I have no other explanation for his sudden productivity.

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