Earlier today Pitchfork reported that Alan Palomo of Neon Indian filmed a scene with Rooney Mara for reclusive filmmaker Terrence Malick’s newest movie Lawless during SXSW in Austin. There’s no word on whether or not Palomo will appear in a finished cut of the film or what his role may be, but he joins an already impressive cast including Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett. The movie is reportedly set within the music scene of Austin, though many of the plot details are unknown, as is often the case when Malick decides to make a film. This announcement has lead to this pressing, urgent and important question: Is Terrence Malick working on the Great American Chillwave Film?
Some may bristle at the idea of a brilliant filmmaker like Malick rubbing elbows with one of the early innovators of chillwave, but when you consider the tenants and thematic concerns of the genre, Malick feels like a somewhat logical fit. Both celebrate childhood and innocence but do so through a melancholy lens. Both obsess over nature, though chillwave has a definite digital bent, preferring beaches and sand over Malick’s blend of grass and dinosaurs. Both have vaguely psychedelic, or at the very least, transcendental leanings. Maybe this is stretching it, but that straw hat that Malick wears in that one picture of him that exists is pretty chill. Chillwave as a viable music genre may be in its waning days, or at least undergoing some growing pains, but the emergence of chillwave cinema has just begun! And, even if chillwave isn’t all the rage anymore, that doesn’t mean I can’t sit here and come up with a bunch of re-imagined chillwave versions of each of Malick’s films. Because the only thing less played-out than chillwave itself are jokes about chillwave, right?
So, without further ado, here are five hypothetical chillwave Terrence Malick films:
01. The Tree Of Miller High Life
Synopsis: Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain play a beautiful, young couple struggling to raise their two sons in the late ’00s amidst so much fascinating, misremembered cultural ephemera, like Atari and old Captain Planet cartoons on YouTube. While Pitt tries to keep his sons on the straight and narrow path, they find themselves drawn to ecstasy, Miller High Life and Bud Light Lime. Sean Penn hangs out at a breezy, metaphorical beach the whole time and works on his tan. Hilarity ensues.
Fun Fact: While high on peyote after a long day of filming, Pitt tried to convince Malick that Tangerine Dream were “totally proto-chillwave,” but Malick claimed Pitt was actually “totally full of shit.”
Tag Line: If you chill it, they will come.
Clip From Original Film That Could Be Instagrammed Into A Chillwave Video:

02. The Nü World
Synopsis: Colin Farrell and Christopher Plummer play two modern-explorers (music bloggers) who spend most of their time scrounging for mp3s on SoundCloud but decide to venture away from their computers during SXSW and take in a show at a giant Doritos vending machine stage. While vibing out at the concert, they meet a mysterious girl wearing a paper headdress and war paint who introduces them to all of Ariel Pink’s early material. Farrell and the girl fall deeply in love, but, soon enough, a writer for a much more popular website (played by Christian Bale) appears at the concert and tempts the girl away with free CDs and promo swag. Love triangle ensues.
Fun Factoid: Christopher Plummer did all his own stunts.
Tag Line: Love knows no genre.
Clip From Original Film That Could Be Instagrammed Into A Chillwave Video:

03. The Thin Neon Line
Synopsis: An anonymous commenter on a James Ferraro fansite says chillwave is, “music for idiots.” Another anonymous commenter argues, “No. It’s not. You suck.” Bloodshed ensues.
Fun Factoid: Chazwick Bundick of Toro Y Moi filmed some harrowing scenes for this film and thought he was the protagonist, but he was eventually edited out of the thing altogether.
Tag Line: War is hella…rough, dude.
Clip From Original Film That Could Be Instagrammed Into A Chillwave Video:
04. Daze Of Heaven
Synopsis: After toiling away at a VHS depository, Richard Gere hits the road with his girlfriend and little sister, hoping to make it as a bedroom synth-pop artist, but the road proves to be a difficult place to find a bedroom while hopping trains. Eventually he ends up editing together clips from cheesy exercise videos from the ’80s for Sam Shepard, who own some sort of Internet start-up devoted to digging up old exercise videos. Shepard falls for Gere’s girlfriend. Tragedy ensues.
Tag Line: Washed out on the prairie.
Fun Factoid: It’s rumored that Richard Gere found a gerbil lodged in his synthesizer on the last day of filming.
Clip From Original Film That Could Be Instagrammed Into A Chillwave Video:

05. Radlandz
Synopsis: Martin Sheen plays a cool garbage man who murders teen baton-twirler Sissy Spacek’s father and takes her on a rough and tumble tour of America. The two hide out in the forest. (Fine, actually, that’s just the plot of Badlands, but you have to admit, it does feel like an essential proto-chillwave text. No? OK, sorry.) Beauty ensues.
Tag Line: The deadbeat summer of love.
Fun Factoid: This GQ oral history of film is so fascinating that it feels disrespectful to even make up a stupid factoid here. Actually, please, stop reading this and go read that.
Clip From Original Film That Could Be Instagrammed Into A Chillwave Video: