Song To Song

Full disclosure: I haven’t actually seen this movie. It was the opening night gala film at SXSW and despite a near 2-hour wait in line, the theatre reached capacity only half a dozen people too early for me to get in. However, I did spend the rest of the festival hearing about the movie from people who were there – 100% of whom regretted it.

songtosong2To be fair, Terrence Malick is practically a hometown boy, and a huge local crowd turned out to see his latest film, which happens to be set in that very same town – Austin, Texas. The film is set against a backdrop of Austin’s vibrant music scene and SXSW is at the forefront of that music scene. Those factors attracted many people who’d never otherwise flock to a Malick film. Sean and I don’t consistently like them either (who does?) but at least we had a better idea of what we were getting into (we saw a Terrence Malick documentary narrated by Brad Pitt at TIFF this year).

What were some of the issues with the movie?

  1. Although Song To Song is a love letter to Austin, it’s mostly a love letter to Austin’s 1%. The McMansions that feature strongly in the film are not exactly the norm for the city. The whole thing has a much more slick and jet-set feel than laid-back Austin does in reality.
  2. SXSW in particular and Austin in general has an impressive music scene and is a real champion of indie acts. Abounding with local talent and featuring really cool guests from all over, Malick instead went with much more main-stream acts, including Patti Smith, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Iggy Pop, and while no one has qualms with these guys, they don’t exactly scream Austin.
  3. Females as objects: that’s kind of a biggie. Natalie Portman and Rooney Mara co-star in this flick about not one but two love triangles, but basically the women exist only to serve the men in the film, one way or another.
  4. It’s insanely white. I didn’t really think of Texas as particularly diverse, but having visited Austin, it is. It’s young and it’s alive but Terrence Malick’s Austin is very monochromatic.

 

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10 thoughts on “Song To Song

  1. J.

    Ah, Malick, Malick, Malick… shoulda been, coulda been, etc etc. I must admit that I tend to avoid his stuff these days. It’s almost as if he’s forgotten how to make a movie that doesn’t just serve his eye.

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    1. Jay Post author

      And yet he keeps getting green lights. I mean, I like art movies, but give someone else a chance, let’s get some new voices who actually have something to say!

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  2. ridicuryder

    Jay,

    There was a mix-up on film times and so I dropped into Song to Song…with my Mother a while back. I realize that “knowing” what to say after a Malik film is missing the point, but she was quite succinct afterwards with “That was the biggest piece of shit I’ve ever seen.” I laughed pretty hard. I wonder if anyone has ever thought of examining random crime statistics in cities where Malik’s films have just screened…my Mom spent the next day or two on the verge of robbing a convenience store. 🙂

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