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There Will Be Popcorn

January 27, 2008

I’d like to apologize for the delay in posting this entry. I generally intend to post every day from Monday-Wednesday, with the occasional entry going up on Sunday. However, a variety of factors prevented me from doing so after Tuesday this week. It won’t happen again. Until it happens again.

Let’s turn our attention to what is now an Oscar contender for Best Film: There Will Be Blood. Starring the best living actor, Daniel Day-Lewis (who should win Best Actor every year, even if he’s not in a movie), this movie should not take home the award. In fact, it should be renamed There Will Be Too Many Plotlines.

Although I had a migraine throughout my viewing of the 3-hour Magnolia, one of Paul Thomas Anderson’s other films, I acknowledge that he juggled a vast array of plotlines with grace and panache. Boogie Nights was more straightforward, and probably the better for it. But There Will Be Blood simply has too many overlapping conflicts and plots, leaving the viewer grasping at the air for something to hold onto as he/she leaves the theater.

In fact, while jumping back and forth between storylines involving the main character’s son, his brother, and a crafty preacher, Anderson seems to forget about the main plotline, the making of an oil magnate. Instead of showing us how Daniel Plainview builds his empire, Anderson resigns to having Plainview tell us how crafty and competitive he is. Plainview informs us that he wants no one else to succeed, a message that rings true with his son, his brother, and the crafty preacher, but he never shows us how he prevents all other burgeoning oil magnates from succeeding. Besides being hard working, Plainview never proves to us that he is anything more than lucky.

The most intriguing plotline was that of Plainview and the crafty preacher, Eli (played by a maturing Paul Dano). Although the other plotlines were interesting, they could have been greatly reduced in length. Some of the best scenes are between the two, and Anderson’s talent for visual symbolism is on full display in them. Quite unexpectedly, there’s a scene that takes place between Eli and Plainview that’s one of the funniest scenes I’ve seen this year.

As was the case with another recent DDL movie, Gangs of New York, I wish I could watch only the frames that have DDL on camera, preferably speaking. Every line on the man’s face acts its heart out. His limp could win Best Actor.

In the end, I don’t care about awards. I just wish this movie had more focus. Daniel Day-Lewis is its saving grace, but There Will Be Blood left me with nothing to take away from it.

Tomorrow:

Questions of the Day

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One Comment leave one →
  1. aquavator permalink
    January 28, 2008 10:58 pm

    I know I disagree with everything you say, but this time I really mean it.

    The thing is, this isn’t really a movie about the making of an oil magnate. It’s about the effects of power and greed on one man and the relationships he has with those around him. I didn’t really care exactly how Daniel Plainview built his fortune, it was much more interesting to see how he reacted to it (mostly by becoming increasingly sociopathic). As far as I was concerned, there were three plotlines; the relationship between Plainview and his son, the relationship between Plainview and his brother, and, most interestingly, the relationship between Plainview and the preacher.

    I really thought it was PTA’s best and most fully-realized film yet, and far from unfocused. I suppose we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

    I do, however, completely agree with you about Gangs of New York. And describing Paul Dano as “maturing” sounds a little creepy.

    Now go see Persepolis and try to tell me you hate that one, too.

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