Sunday, February 03, 2008

Movie Watching Update

I finally got a chance to see There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film with Daniel Day-Lewis, and while I didn't walk away thinking it was the best thing since cinematic sliced-bread, I do think it's a wonderful film. It's completely unique, with an elliptical and unusual storytelling style that breaks every rule for when scenes should begin and end and works because of it. Some of it is showy, like the first 20 minutes which makes such a point of having no dialogue that it becomes obvious after a while that the director said, "You know what? I'm going to make a movie where there's no dialogue for the first 20 minutes, just to do it."

But really, it's a powerful film with an amazing performance by Day-Lewis, a performance that some have criticized for being over the top. I think it IS over the top, towards the end, when the character of Daniel Plainview has crossed the line from misanthrope to madman -- but it works because of that.

My other weekend viewing included two more films from the "Up" series -- 35 Up and 42 Up. Many will know what I'm talking about already, but for those who don't, this series revisits the same people every seven years, starting from when they were seven years old, to check in on their lives and to see specifically how people from different classes of society develop and grow. It's a really amazing series (Roger Ebert has called it a "towering achievement of documentary film"), and watching these children grow up, some achieving their hopes and dreams and some facing divorce, the death of parents, and other disappointments in life is just so... well... human.

The really interesting thing about it has been watching them go from about my age (in 35 Up) to past my age (in 42 Up), where the course of their lives has mostly been set, and they've begun to accept that.

I am anxiously awaiting my Netflix shipment of 49 Up, which was released in 2005. I'm almost afraid of what I'll see, and the whole series has given me pause to reflect on my own life, not only on what I've accomplished but also just the point of life in general. In some ways, this series points out the distinct differences in the opportunities available to children of different classes, but in many ways it shows us just how alike we all are in so many ways, in our challenges and our disappointments, in our hopes and dreams for ourselves and our children.

And tonight? There will be... football (sorry -- had to make the obvious play on words). Last game of the season, so I have to watch. Go G'ints!


Blogger badMike said...

I think I'm pretty much in agreement with you on There Will Be Blood. I really thought I wasn't going to like it since I haven't dug Anderson's work since Boogie Nights. So, I was quite taken aback when it turned out to be so good.

And I think the problem at the end is that there's such a huge jump in time from when H.W. is a little boy to a young man confronting his father. Plainview turns into a monster, but there's no progression of him from being a functional sociopath to an anti-social, violent Howard Hughes person. It wasn't clear how he got to his final totally deranged state.

But a "fun" film nonetheless. Yeah, it's bleak but it has a fun quirky aspect to it.

2/05/2008 3:20 PM  
Blogger Chris Hansen said...


Yeah, I get what you're saying about the time lapse there. I think I immediately made the leap with Anderson in terms of understanding that Plainview's misanthropy had always been leading him to this point. He hates all humans, so as soon as he amassed a huge fortune, he holed up in his mansion and never talked to anyone again. And that led to further insanity. But you're right -- we don't SEE that progression during the time lapse, so it's quite jarring.

You're also right that it has a very quirky aspect to it. And there are moments that are stuck in my brain (the final scene's "milkshake" discussion, for example, and the "salvation/baptism" scene. Showy scenes that work because of Day-Lewis's acting).

2/05/2008 3:25 PM  

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