“What’s worse, Mara is doing it with Fassbender, Fassbender is doing it with Portman, Mara is doing it with Berenice Marlohe, Gosling is doing it with Blanchett, Gosling is doing it with Mara, Portman is doing it with the prostitute that Fassbender hired, Fassbender is doing it with the other two prostitutes he hired…everyone is doing this crap with everyone, endlessly, for what feels like four straight hours. God, these people are horrible. And it’s not even sexy-sex stuff, just this oddball grab-ass footsie nonsense stuff that is utterly ridiculous and thoroughly uncomfortable to watch. The whole thing stinks more than the ooze running down Austin’s 6th street on a SXSW Saturday morning. Fool us once, To the Wonder…fool us twice, Knight of Cups…and what the hell does that make Song to Song?” — from Josh Dickey’s Mashable review.
A few hours ago reclusive director Terrence Malick participated in a Song to Song discussion at South by Southwest, joining the stage with costar Michael Fassbender and moderator Richard Linklater. Asked about his use of recurring visual and aural motifs in his last three films — Song to Song, Knight of Cups, To The Wonder — Malick paused, cleared his throat and said, “Uhhm, it’s hard to explain with any real precision….all I can say with 100% certainty is that I’m still trying to answer certain eternal questions…who am I, what am I, where am I going, how much longer will Emmanuel Lubezski continue to work with me, what about the dinosaurs who used to roam this planet, why do I so love to watch beautiful women twirl barefoot on lawns…why does that guy, whatsisname, call me Terrence Wackadoodle?”
Terrence Malick‘s Song to Song (Broad Green, 3.17) is more or less the same movie as To The Wonder and Knight of Cups — another meandering, whispering voice-over, passively erotic Emmanuel Lubezski tour de bullshit. All directors make the same movie over and over, of course, and this, ladies and germs, is another return to Malickland…what he does, what he can’t help recreating and re-exploring. I just sat there in my seat at Broad Green headquarters, slumped and going with it and silently muttering to myself, “Yuhp, same arty twaddle.”
The older Malick gets (he’s 73), the foxier and more barefoot and twirling the girls in his movies get, and this one, a kind of Austin music industry La Ronde, has a fair amount of fucking going on. And that’s fine with me. No “sex scenes”, per se, but a lot of navel-worshipping, I can tell you. Rooney Mara‘s, I mean.
At first Song to Song is about a romantic-erotic triangle between Faye (Mara), a guitarist and band member who doesn’t seem to care about music as much as whom she’s erotically entwined with at the moment, and two attractive music industry guys — Ryan Gosling‘s BV, a songwriter-performer, and Michael Fassbender‘s Cook, a rich music mogul. I can tell you Mara is definitely the focus of the high-hard-one action or, as Quentin Tarantino put it in Reservoir Dogs, “Dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick.”
Mara seems to start off with Cook and then move on to BV. Or was it Gosling first and then Fassbender and then a really hot French girl (Berenice Marlohe) and then back to Gosling at the very end with a Cook pit-stop or two? There’s never much sense of linear time progression in a Malick film so you never really know, but she definitely does them all.
There’s something vaguely L’Avventura-esque about Song to Song…pretty, wealthy people lost in impulsive erotica, embracing momentary pleasure, bopping from song to song, bod to bod, orgasm to orgasm, and all the while trying to make things happen within the Austin music scene. But falling away from the eternal. And in too many cold-vibe high-rises and high-end homes and not enough folksy abodes with yards and dogs and oak trees. But with lots of rivers to gaze at.
Sometime last fall I decided that Pete Holmes, star-creator of HBO’s Crashing, is not only not funny, but revoltingly upbeat. I was watching him do a standup bit and saying to myself “God, I hate this fucking guy…silly, unfunny dipshit comedy..and I hate it even more that the crowd is laughing with him.” Upbeat is fine if it’s coming from within my own heart (occasionally, from time to time), but it’s poison in comedians.
The truth is that I kind of hate upbeat as a rule, and goofy voices and too much smiling and little pig eyes, which Holmes definitely has, are toxic. I don’t need Sam Kinison-level anger, but the absence of anger is not only fatal — it’s inhuman. I want my comedians to call bullshit on everyone and everything. I want them to sneer and frown and shake their heads derisively. So “thanks but no thanks” on Holmes and Crashing. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all but later.