The Not-So-Secret Life of Terrence Malick

Eric Benson in Texas Monthly:

HR_malick_01J.D. Salinger fled the Manhattan literary scene for a hillside cottage in Cornish, New Hampshire, and was more or less never heard from again. Howard Hughes spent many of his waning years holed up in the penthouse of Las Vegas’s Desert Inn, refusing public comment and shunning public appearances. Thomas Pynchon, America’s most successfully private artist since Emily Dickinson, has managed to go six decades without having so much as a clear picture taken of him. But in the era of social media and digital surveillance, such seclusion is increasingly difficult to maintain, so these days, anyone can go to YouTube and watch Terrence Malick dance.

In the video, Malick—the 73-year-old director of Badlands, The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life,and the forthcoming Song to Song—is at the Broken Spoke in Austin, the city he has called home for most of his life. The San Antonio–based band Two Tons of Steel is playing at full locomotive tilt on the honky-tonk’s stage, and we watch as Malick—bearded, balding, and smiling softly—shuffles along in his best approximation of the two-step. Malick, who in high school was known as the Dancing Bear, more for his husky frame than his nimble feet, looks unaware that anyone is filming him. He is holding hands with his wife, Alexandra, who goes by Ecky, and together they slowly circle the dance floor. The video is mundane in nearly every way—twelve seconds of poorly lit, slightly jittery, low-resolution footage that shows an older couple dancing happily but unremarkably. But within a day of surfacing, in late 2012, the video, “Terrence Dances,” was reposted and written about by the Huffington Post, Vulture, Slate, and IndieWire. To date, it has been watched more than 33,000 times.

More here. [Thanks to Tony Cobitz.]