Tuesday, January 15, 2008

There Was

Okay, so I did it. I went and watched There Will Be Blood. And I have to say I'm underwhelmed.

Oh, it's not a bad movie. Daniel Day-Lewis is every bit as good as I expected him to be (which is very, very good indeed) the rest of the cast does a sterling job, the cinematography is lovely, the direction unexceptionable. It's a little long - some two hours and forty minutes - and feels a bit like a mini-series rather than a film, but for all that it's a fairly gripping watch.

The trouble, I think, was that all the time I was watching it I had this strong sense of deja vu. As though I'd seen this film, or something very like it, a dozen times before. You know the story. Man starts from nothing, makes it big through a combination of hard work and conniving slyness. Ends up alienated and bitter, suspicious of everybody, with no meaningful connection to anyone (Hell, just in case you didn't get it they actually have a dialog in there where he talks about how he sees the worst in everyone). Under the slick, greasy surface of Paul Thomas Anderson's movie is a mish-mash of Citizen Kane, the Godfather and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. That There Will Be Blood bears comparison to these masterpieces (and it does) does it great credit, of course, but it also leaves you feeling 'ah, that again'. It may be that the genre of the 'one man's rise to power' epic needs resurrecting, in which case Anderson has done as good a job of it as anyone could, but personally I can't say I felt it was something we were missing out on, and as a consequence the film left me largely unmoved.

None of this is to say that it's a film I regret watching. Day-Lewis's performance alone would make it worth the price of entry, and the movie certainly has its moments. The church scenes with Paul Dano are sparkling and hilarious, the interplay between Plainview (the character Day-Lewis plays) and his son is superbly done, and the ending is glorious. I just can't help feeling that all that energy and talent could have gone into making something a little more, well, new.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can I admit to a humungous crush on Daniel Day-Lewis? Like, man, that guy is sex on hot buttered toast with Marmite. On a rainy Sunday morning. With a cup of La Colombe coffee.

n!

Alok said...

I had exactly the same reaction but you have to concede that the way it goes about saying the same thing is very different from all those movies you listed. I was personally not taken by all the over-the-top-ness but it certainly was something new and strange. Specially the coda which I didn't see coming at all.

I was also thinking about how consistent and often tackled this subject really is, specially in American movies. Some kind of cultural self-loathing I guess. It is like calling Walden a "quintessentially american book"!

Falstaff said...

n!: Be my guest. I can't say I'm particularly hot for the man. He's a brilliant actor, but I can't help worrying that he may bring the same kind of intensity to his sex life as he does to his acting. This would mean that he'd have sex with you roughly twice every decade. And then he'd refuse to touch you either before or afterwards (and as little during as possible) in order to stay 'in character'. Give me Depp any day.

Alok: I guess. You know, I can't shake the feeling that I've seen something else very like the film, I just can't put my finger on what. But the coda was awesome.

Szerelem said...

n!: I so totally agree with you. And even if he has sex with you only twice every decade it would be totally worth it - ummm, I think.

Falstaff said...

szerelem: Fair enough. Besides, who am I kidding? From where I stand, sex twice a decade would be an achievement.

Anonymous said...

Szerelem: Zacatly. You get it. Falsie, for whom at this moment frequency clearly beats quality, doesn't.

Falsie: See this is why we don't waste our time watching old movies when Hollywood is perfectly happy to regurgitate. This is that rare occasion when my ignorance of Citizen Kane et al worked for me. Which reminds me, apparently Michael Haneke's new movie (Funny Games?) is a copy of his old one in German, scene for scene.

Speaking of codas, (Codas! Alok!! You complete me!! Coda sounds so much more elegant than "the end" or "the final scene".), did you also wait in the theatre till the coda of the coda, the coda ultima, till the lovely notes of the Brahms faded away and the cleaners came to pick up errant popcorn pieces?

n!

km said...

Having sex on a piece of buttered toast on a rainy morning while holding a hot cup of coffee must be *mighty* uncomfortable.

Then again, I am not knocking anyone's fetishes.

blackmamba said...

"...while holding a hot cup of coffee "

@km, been done before - Office Space.

Tabula Rasa said...

sex on hot buttered toast with Marmite.

imagine the rug burns. *shudder*

(and the cleaning bills)

blackmamba said...

And people! Twice in a decade?!

Does nobody remember 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being?'

km said...

Completely OT, but Black Mamba, I bow to your vastly superior Office Space-fu. I had forgotten that scene.

Sue said...

A propos de rien entirely, but I just thought I owed you a line to say that I'm sorry if I've given the impression that you're anti-children.

Even if you are anti-children.

You see, only too many idiots will consider their atrocious stands vindicated by the irony such as in the posts I linked to.

Anyway... have a weird day.

Tabula Rasa said...

wow. i was traveling last month so i missed this whole babydom exchange. not a single mention of microwaves!

Falstaff said...

sue: No worries.

TR: You missed it? Really? And after I wrote two whole posts about it too. Imagine that. Why that's almost 0.25% of my total output.

All: You know, this would have been so much better a film if they had actually included the sex scene you're all picturing. Complete with La Colombe product placement. It would put the whole drilling away at the earth hoping to strike oil business in such a totally different light.

Anonymous said...

Ummm...Google landed me here after i searched for "office space sex scene hot coffee". Could someone describe the scene to me? Looks like its not on the net!

(sheepishly) I know I'm sick. But, any response is appreciated.

km said...

To the last Anonymous: better than googling, go rent Office Space. You will simply *love* that sequence. (It's a dream sequence, btw.)

babitha said...

do you realise the kind of searches that are going to lead to your blog now...he he :-)

Anonymous said...

OT, Falsie, but quick question: but where you suggest I put my Elgar Cello Concerto? (yes, arranging one's CDs is a hard hard business). You see, I have

1. The Big Daddies: BBM
2. The Pretty Boys: Bizet, Haydn, Boccherini, Mendelssohn, Saint-Saens, Schubert.
3. The Stormin' Russians: Grieg, Schumann, Rachmaninoff.
4. The Ones who Play The Dvorak Cello Concerto: Casals, duPre, Ma, Schiff, Starker, Rostropovich.
5. The Moderns: Parker, Hindemith, Schoenberg, Stravinsky.
6. The Flutes and Woodwinds

So the thing is, where does this leave the sole Elgar Cello CD that I have? Its driving me completly nuts which is why I've succumbed to what seems like a soft-porn post to ask you or any of the commenters....

n!

Falstaff said...

last anon: See km's comment. And no reason to be sheepish. We're all about being inclusive. If you think that's sick, you should hear some of n!'s more lurid fantasies.

babitha: Ya, well. Currently, the most common searches that lead people here seem to be "Puff the Magic Dragon", "Headless Photoshopped Baby" and "Regents of the University of California vs. Bakke". Office sex with coffee can only be an improvement.

n!: Show off. You're just fishing for compliments on your awesome rack, aren't you?

And I resent your placing Schubert among the pretty boys. And no Shostakovich? No Sibelius? No Dvorak (except for that one concerto?) Tch! Tch!.

Now, Elgar clearly doesn't belong with 1 3 or 5, and given that this is the Cello Concerto not with 6 either. I would put him with 4 which is where he is on my shelf, mostly for the sake of keeping all the du Pre's / Rostropovich's together.

Tabula Rasa said...

awesome rack

frankly, i thought that was seedy.

Falstaff said...

TR: Are you just stating that for the record or do you want to discuss it?

Tabula Rasa said...

no, let's just wav it on.

Space Bar said...

this is the trouble with starting on the puns. they get viral.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I was going to say something about being brave enough to expose myself to the critical gaze of Falstaff ('showing off' indeed) but wisely decided against it.

Falsie, thanks for the recommendation. I have done exactly that but I think Elgar looks distinctly unhappy to be paired with the Dvorak sextuplets. Oh well, that's what you get for writing the bitterest Old Age Concerto ever.

n!