Saturday, August 23, 2008

#56 Saturday Matinee--"There Will Be Blood"

Just screened it last night, courtesy of Netflix, about the only way I can stay au courant with the movie scene these days, as I'm sure is the case with many of you Myriads. And why not?--it's a cheap way to see (relatively) new releases, and, moreover, it's not a bad thing to wait awhile anyway--enough time for the critical responses to a new film to sort of filter out and down to a more reliable residue to go by. Last film viewed at the multiplex?--"Bucket List." Got our ticket price back just for the fun of watching Nicholson and Freeman having so much fun. Otherwise.... But, hey, I sure am glad I waited for Netflix to come around with Academy Award nominee "There Will Be Blood."

TWBB is certainly watchable, if only for AA winner Daniel Day-Lewis's performance, but worthy only of its fraction of my $10/mo-unlimited-one-at-a-time membership, if that. I'll make you a promise, though, here and now: "there will be..." NOT blood, but a favorable movie-review soon enough, for what its worth, in this blogspot, on the Netflix timetable--but not today. Bad movie. I was sandbagged. Writer-director Anderson has done some good work in the past, I guess, and he had a pretty good posthumous co-writer, Upton Sinclair, whose muckraking novel The Jungle pretty directly led to the formation of the FDA. (And talk about "muck" get plenty in TWBB.) Here it's his less famous Oil, which I have never read, but do know that the movie is so distant from the book as to be irrelevant, anyway.

Maybe Anderson should have paid more attention to his source. The result could not have been much worse than THIS adaptation, or "inspired by" (as he calls it) version of the novel. But let's get it up front: NO SYMPATHETIC CHARACTERS. Not one. Unusual, yes? But, come on, no fun at all. The director was perhaps going wildly "experimental" here, I don't know, but when there's no moral/ethical compass within the film, the audience has to provide its own, and what do we see?--an unrelieved wasteland (like the setting) of humanity, either amoral ciphers (all but one) or embodiments of pure evil= the star of the show, Daniel Plainview. His view is plain, all right; even his name is cut out of cardboard. If Anderson wants to portray the ultimate anti-hero with absolutely no redeeming qualities, then he has succeeded therewith. And DD-L's incandescent performance makes it all the more starkly realized. (Now, we see a wonderful portrait of truly unmitigated and unexplained evil in Javier Bardem's character in the Coen brother's "No Country...etc, but he wasn't the central character.) Anderson has to give us some of that good old "motivation" behind Daniel Plainview. The WHY of how he acts. Sure, there are are some pointed OVER-lying themes of greed and corruption and religious hypocrisy, but these don't really touch him. His unalloyed hatred and violence are unexplained. No clue. He's from Wisconsin; his father remarried. That's about it. Child abuse? Abandonment? Dog bite? No hint. Did I miss something? I gotta get this in the mail.

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