Saturday, January 19, 2008
Well, John and I, victims of super hype as it turned out, went to see "There Will Be Blood", the latest and much touted film from Paul Thomas Anderson (son of Cleveland's beloved Ghoulardi). I have been a fan of young Anderson's movies: "Boogie Nights", "Magnolia" and "Punch Drunk Love", the last of which converted me from an Adam Sandler hater to almost liking him. I think Anderson is the most inventive and original cinematic storyteller since - oh, maybe Preston Sturges, who's been dead for over 50 years. "There Will Be Blood" has received almost universal raves, and Daniel Day Lewis has been considered a shoo-in for all the many awards coming up.
Well, I'm here to tell ya, I think that a lot of people have been blinded by expectations. I was really looking forward to seeing this film and it didn't take long to see the light. It is probably one of the most overwrought pieces of film writing since "The Perils of Pauline" in terms of everything being bigger than life, especially the way the characters are both written and acted.
Daniel Day Lewis is channeling John Huston, and not very well. (Close your eyes and you're in "Chinatown"). Where did he get that accent? John thought it was more Sean Connery. Not only that, but he was ACTING. If you ever saw the old Jon Lovitz sketch about ACTING on SNL you'll know what I mean. As in, over the top.
There's a stereotypical evangelist prone to hysterics AND histrionics who gets regularly beaten up in a most violent way. There's a kid who you know is headed for some sort of disaster. Spoiler alert: He is deafened by a sudden gusher explosion, no surprise because he's leaning over the hole, but for some reason he also forgets how to talk and has to learn sign language.
I tried to look at this as some sort of conflict between the spiritual and the material, but it's so trite and naive that it just becomes tiresome. Anderson also has featured, in almost all his movies, bitterness between father and son, which makes me sad, because we all really liked Ghoulardi a lot around here and hate to think that he was such a rotten daddy that his son has to keep working out his angst in film after film. Wouldn't therapy be cheaper? He's still a fine film maker, just no this time.
I saw a couple of smart people walk out, but as I've said before, I'm too cheap. There's a lot of interesting stuff about how they dug oil wells in the late 19th century. People get smeared with oil a lot.The cinematography is fine.
But save yer money.
Stay home and read.