Wednesday, January 09, 2008

So, Yeah...

...I saw Paul Thomas Anderson's latest, There Will Be Blood last night. Not 100% sure what to think of it (especially being a huge Anderson fan, having loved all four of his previous films, including Hard Eight). I definitely think the Coens' No Country For Old Men is a superior film, but maybe that was my problem: I went in this expecting to see the Greatest. Movie. Ever.

Though a tad too bitchy and negative, Salon.com film critic Stephanie Zacharek said it best in her review:

"This isn't a cynical picture, just a maddeningly incomplete one. And it's too emotionally constrained to be worthy of Anderson's considerable gifts. There Will Be Blood strives for boldness, instead of just being bold."


I'm not saying I didn't like it (I did), nor am I saying I thought it isn't a very well-made movie (it is). It's just that, despite its presentation as an epic, There Will Be Blood feels very thin; very cold.

Anyone else see it? Your thoughts?

Conflicted,

James "Turning Point" Comtois

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8 Comments:

Blogger Zack said...

I saw it and thought the movie was more a character study. I believe Day-Lewis's performance was eerie and terrifying but there really is no story to speak of. Just a portrait of a life.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Jamespeak said...

I kinda had the same feeling, too. A character study packaged in an
"epic" crate. Hence my mixed feelings about it.

1:08 PM  
Blogger jengordonthomas said...

aren't all pt anderson's films "character studies"? that's one of the reasons i love his films so much...there are all these pathetic, vulnerable, terribly, terribly HUMAN characters with all their flaws just hanging out there in the breeze. love it. i really enjoyed the movie, but i gotta thing for cautionary tales. not his normal style (nor was No Country for the cohen bros), but i'm ok with that. just my 2 cents. the guy (paul dano) who played eli was un-fucking-believable.

1:17 PM  
Blogger isaac said...

i haven't seen it, but i gotta say, stephanie zacarek is one of the three worst film critics working today (The other two being armond white and charles taylor)

2:21 PM  
Blogger Jamespeak said...

I'm not wild about Stephanie Zacharek or (I believe her husband) Charles Taylor's reviews, either. But every now and then, they do write something that hits the proverbial nail on the head (side-note: Taylor's review of Star Wars Episode One explains exactly what's wrong with the movie better than anyone, I think). And this line in her review I fully agree with.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Jamespeak said...

Hi, Jen! Yeah, I usually love Anderson’s movies as character studies as well (Punch Drunk Love being one of my favorite movies in the past 10 years, no joke). And there are a lot of elements of There Will Be Blood I really, really appreciated.

But still…yeah. Just as I found myself relating/understanding/sympathizing with his previous characters (Sydney, Dirk, everyone in Magnolia, and Barry), Daniel Day-Lewis’ Daniel Plainview and Paul Dano’s Eli really left me cold. As characters (and you’re right; the acting was amazing). But maybe that was the point.

Okay, here’s what bugged me: as long as the movie was, and as much as the movie was ultimately a character study, I felt like I was watching some sort of Cliff’s Notes-style condensed summary of Daniel and Eli's conflict, rather than watching that conflict unfold, if that makes sense.

For a two and a half hour movie, it felt oddly incomplete; like I was missing some crucial five minutes somewhere.

That said, I really admire the ambition in this movie, and am really impressed that Anderson has gone far (far FAR) out of his comfort zone with There Will Be Blood.

Again, I'm not trashing it: I may just be setting the bar very high, since I've absolutely loved all of Anderson's other films (to an almost irrational degree).

2:49 PM  
Blogger jengordonthomas said...

i think i understand what you're saying. what i thought was beautiful about how their conflict was presented was the mirroring...the recognition of themselves in the other. and the ultimate loathing (self) of that...the desire to destroy that thing that reflects how weak and false you are. oof. humans can be such an ugly, complicated lot.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous richard said...

There was NO STORY!!! I just saw Daniel Day Lewis acting his ass off and nothing else. This was no epic.

2:55 AM  

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