Wednesday, April 16, 2008

This is in response. . .

. . .to a message I received through myspace. Due to a workplace firewall, my myspace activity is reduced to the limited functions available on my phone. Rather than compose this on a keypad, or sneak away to reply - I'm posting it here.

There Will Be Blood is Daniel Day-Lewis chewing up scenery for two and a half hours, then spitting it out.

My theory is that if P.T. Anderson could have, There Will Be Blood would have been six-hours long. What we're watching is the highlight reel. That's not to say that the movie doesn't have some redeeming qualities. Daniel Day-Lewis is enjoyable to an extent. And the camerawork is some of P.T. Anderson's most mature, yet. But what is it that you really have across those 160-minutes? Even more, what do you come away with?

From it's opening scene, we establish that Daniel Plainview is a piercing businessman who will do or say anything to further his own interests. By the last frame, what have we learned? That Daniel Plainview was a piercing businessman who did or said anything to further his own interests. In between we have explosions, panoramics of a dusty landscape, and an allegory of milkshakes. The only thing that has depth in this movie are the wells. We meet a character of a particular mindset, we follow him across a stretch of his life, and we leave with him being of the same mindset. He just happened to grow more conniving, and ruthless. So what's the point? That wealth makes the unscrupulous, just that much more unscrupulous.

Of the many movies that could be likened to There Will Be Blood, Brian DePalma's Scarface would provide the best parallel. Both movies, in essence, are about the changes brought upon by wealth. The main difference is the choice of commodity. In one, oil. The other, cocaine. Both are modern epics. Both feature the decade's most over-the-top actor in the starring role. But with Scarface we see the ascent of Tony Montana, then watch the fall. In Blood, we start off with an already established central character, and watch him stagnate. We don't know if Daniel Plainview has ever been hungry. Nor do we learn. We just know that he has money, and with that he gets his way. Over the course of the movie, he becomes wealthier. Due to this lack of any real development, his remains a flat character. (If I was into flat characters, things would have worked out better with my last girlfriend. Zing!) The reason Scarface has permeated nearly every socio-economic strata is that everyone in an audience has wanted. Be it something, or someone. We all understand what it is to go without. Aside from a small conflict of family, Daniel Plainview never does. Tony Montana, on the other hand is a dishwasher. His gains are the product of his wits and labor. Americans appreciate ingenuity. And Americans respect anyone that picks themselves up from their bootstraps. And like that, we have a character in Tony Montana that we can empathize with, and experience emotions alongside.

I stand by the bulletin I posted immediately after I saw There Will Be Blood. [It read: There Will Be Dissapointment.] (By the way, that was four months ago. Either my phone is slow, or the internet just reared it's unusually ugly little head into Salina?) I don't think a repeated viewing will do anything other than give me something else to put off. But I do agree with you that Punch Drunk Love is P.T. Anderson's best work. I saw it three times in the theater. Though, I think that's only because I'm a sucker for anything about weird people trying to find their place.

I wonder why that is.


Anonymous said...

Angel, you are a national monument. I have no words, as anything I say will pale in comparison to your finely tuned blog entries. I am proud to call you my friend. You must maintain this blog, you owe it to the people!

Anonymous said...

That's a joke, right?