Monday, January 28, 2008

My Ramblings on "There Will Be Blood"

I saw "There Will Be Blood" over the weekend, and I had a reaction to it I did not expect: incomprehension.

In this post I'm going to float some ideas I had about the movie and maybe get a conversation going with some of you who saw the movie. I think there's a lot of stuff going on in this film, a lot of themes and a lot of layers even, and I think there is more than one way to interpret the film. Of course, for those who have not yet seen the movie and still wish to, probably best not to read this post because I'll be dealing in spoilers indiscriminately. To you people I say go see the movie or just check back for the next post. So let's get into it.






[SPOILERS AHEAD!]





Okay. Just us now.

First, let me say I really liked the movie. I haven't been able to get it out of my head since I saw it Friday night. Daniel Day Lewis is fantastic as the megalomaniacal Daniel Plainview. I liked in particular the first dialogue-free sequence leading up to the first oil strike. We know everything we need to know about Daniel Plainview in that sequence. The cinematography (which was also nominated for an Academy Award) is striking. The shot of Plainview hunkered down and munching on some bit of food while a twilight thunderstorm flashes in the distance behind him was probably the best shot I saw all year. And the music by Radiohead guitarist Brian Greenwood got me right where I lived by sounding exactly like a lost track from the "Shining" soundtrack. I could go on about what's great about this movie, but I'm more interested right now in what the hell it all meant.

I've been very careful not read anything about this movie -- no reviews, no actor interviews, none of the source material, etc. -- so I came to this movie absolutely fresh. When the end came, I was caught short. My reaction to the film's final line, "I'm done!" and the immediate cut to black following was a lot like my initial reaction to seeing "The Big Lebowski" back in Winston. I didn't quite know what to make of it. I suppose that puts "Blood" in good company. But I felt pretty dumb as the credits rolled. "There Will Be Blood" tied "No Country for Old Men" (another movie with an ambiguous ending) for the most nominations, so in addition to all the critics who loved this thing, there are a whole lot of Academy members who loved it and seemed to get it right away. I felt left out. So what was P.T. Anderson saying in this film?

Is it that capitalism is, at its core, a dehumanizing entity? After a few days thought, this is the best I've got for this. But there are some moments and throughlines in the film that muddy the waters a little. I think this movie defies any short and sweet interpretation.

The film starts with Daniel Plainview on his own. He lives by himself and works by himself. He is a man with a pick-axe working at a hole in the ground. Making it bigger. And though he seems so much a part of the earth as to be elemental in these first scenes, he doesn't seem unhappy. Or even exhausted. He seems deeply absorbed and even contented in his self-sufficiency. You can see a smile of pride when he manages to drag himself, broken-leg and all, over miles of rocky terrain to sell the bit silver (or was it gold?) he'd just mined. This sequence also establishes nicely Plainview's later hostility to God and religion. Clearly Plainview's never asked anyone, including a deity, for help with anything, and so distrusts those who would depend on anyone or anything besides themselves and their own hard work to get them through.

Some years later we see Plainview doing well enough to hire others. But even though Daniel now has others to interact with, hardly any words are spoken. One gets the impression that, perhaps, Plainview views his employees as units of work rather than people. Has the dehumanizing effect of Capitalism already begun to show in Plainview? Or is that Plainview is already an avowed Capitalist and we just see it more clearly the richer he gets?

An accident gives him a son and an heir. There are a few storylines and overarching conflicts in the film, but the primary one is between Daniel Plainview and his son. In these first scenes of Plainview with the infant and then the toddler (in that great scene in the train), we watch Plainview begin to question the wisdom of his solitary existence. When we see Plainview and his son twelve years on trying to buy more land to drill, we see a couple of things at once: 1.) Plainview's grown prosperous and is more articulate and savvy than we might have first suspected watching him whacking rocks in his makeshift mine, and 2.) his son has deepened his passion for work and making money because now he has someone he loves to pass it down to.

Plainview takes great pains to mentor the boy and include him in his work, even when he's making his son a party to the impending swindle of the Sunday family. After the accident at the derrick that results in the son going deaf, Plainview's attitude towards the boy changes. His feelings of powerlessness are alien to him and he begins to take the resentment he feels out on the boy by widening the gulf his son's deafness and Plainview's inability to fix that deafness has opened between them. Is this distance between them meant as a comment on how Capitalism has shaped Plainview's worldview so deeply that when his son ceases to be viable as an asset, Plainview ceases to love him?

When the long-lost half-brother arrives, Plainview's hopes for a viable familial partner are renewed. The son sees how his father has taken a shine to this interloper and sets their shack/house on fire in wordless protest. Speaking directly to the main theme of the film, does Anderson intend the son to represent the worker lashing out at the injustices inherent in the system?

And when the half-brother is proven false, Plainview brings the son back. Does he do this because he is as repentant as he proclaims in church, or is it because, in the absence of a trustworthy family member, a broken one will do? Do Plainview's nebulous relationships with his son and false half-brother speak to his interest in an heir and a buying into the traditional Capitalist ideas of creating wealth and finding ways to perpetuate it, or is it more simply a quest for some idealized vision of family? And if that's the case, how does this central character arc tie neatly into some expression of the director's meaning?

In the penultimate scene, the son, now grown, visits his father, now slightly bonkers, in his father's mansion, to announce his intention to break off from his father's company. Plainview's reaction is cruel and pitiless. He disowns his son, tells him he's adopted (which was news to him), and says "now you're a competitor," as if to say, "You're no longer my son."

Which brings us to the long final scene, which takes place in Daniel Plainview's two-lane private bowling alley. Eli, the faith-healing Reverend that Plainview disliked so, returns. He's gotten into radio and has become one of the first televangelists (a radiovangelist?). But he's also lost everything in the Crash, and wants to sell Plainview a plot of land with oil beneath it. Plainview agrees but only if Eli renounces God and himself as a vessel for His message. In a reversal of an earlier scene where Eli forces Daniel to admit he "abandoned [his] boy" in front of his congregation in exchange for the pipeline rights to the same plot of land, Eli does as instructed. In a cruel twist, Daniel then informs Eli that he already got all the oil out from beneath the plot of land in question, and then proceeds to twist the knife in all the deeper. The scene culminates in Daniel bludgeoning Eli to death with a bowling pin. His servant comes on the scene and, apparently undisturbed by the carnage, asks after his employer. To which Plainview says, "I'm done!" And that's the end of the film.

Of course this has to do with Daniel's son, but how? Yes Daniel hated Eli for what Eli made him do, admitting to the sin of abandoning his son, but what does it mean that Daniel killed Eli for it? That Daniel never brooked any disrespect? This seems to bear out. Take, for instance, the scene where the Standard Oil man tells Daniel how sorry he is for what happened to his son. Daniel takes this as a commentary on his parenting skills and threatens to cut his throat over it. The false half-brother disrespected Daniel by lying his way into Daniel's confidence -- Daniel kills him for it. Eli humiliates him at the Baptism and, years later, Daniel kills him for that.

Or are we supposed to take Daniel's murder of Eli more symbolically? Perhaps Daniel, the Capitalist, made insane by his devotion to greed, kills Eli because he discovers that, in his heart, Eli, the embodiment of Religion, is just another capitalist. And does Daniel kill the Capitalist in God-fearing clothes because Daniel has a "competition in [him]" that incites his primal urge to do literally what Capitalists do metaphorically, or does he kill Eli because he suddenly sees in Eli what he hates most in himself, and lashes out? By portraying two of Capitalism and Religion's most skillful practitioners as corrupt beyond all reckoning, is Anderson implicitly equating the two as irredeemably evil institutions? But if so, doesn't this idea fail to account for Anderson's emphasis on the relationship between Plainview and his son, a relationship that seems to exist outside of the larger concepts of Religion and Capitalism? For one, religion doesn't really play a role in that relationship, and two, the idea that Capitalism alone (i.e. Plainview's driving ambition) was the primary force behind the poisoned relationship between Plainview and his son doesn't quite encompass what was portrayed on-screen.

Does Plainview's quest for his elusive idea of "family" indicate a larger quest for meaning? Does his failure to find that meaning sour him on life? Does he distrust Eli and ultimately murder Eli because he sees how Eli cynically uses man's search for meaning for monetary reward?

Anyway, enough of all that.

I think I absorbed the film, and felt what I was meant to feel, but to comprehend it, something's missing for me. Some way of reading it that will make form, content and meaning all gel in my mind. I guess I'm just excited to hear what you all thought of it, and what you thought the movie meant. Like what did the line, "I'm done!" really mean, for example. I think "There Will Be Blood" is dense and its rewards not altogether apparent on a single viewing, but I think it's definitely worth thinking and writing about to get at the film's meaning. Which feels pretty rare for an American film. I'm not sure I liked "Blood" more than "No Country", but I felt like "Blood" drew from a much deeper well than did "No Country," and that's in its favor.

27 comments:

harwell said...

Wow. Really interesting review, dude. I can't even begin to tackle all those questions and wouldn't have answers for you even if I did (and I have seen the film twice).

I would just urge against looking at the film as being wholly symbolic. I think that's almost too easy a viewpoint, to look at Daniel and say "he's capitalism" and Eli and say "he's religion." There's no doubt that Anderson clearly wants us to take that into account, I just don't think it does the film justice to limit it to that. I think the characters are more complicated - as you've pointed out in detail with Daniel, but also with Eli who is either schizophrenic or does in fact have a twin brother named Paul who sold out their location to Daniel for some quick cash before abandoning his family.

I'm trying mostly to look at the film as a study of character and setting. Daniel can't be looked at as someone separate from capitalism, but I have a hard time accepting Anderson - himself a millionaire, surely - as being someone who views capitalism as entirely ruthless and the great soul crusher of America. I think Daniel also offers us a real look at isolation, ambition, greed, regret and misery. It's not that different from CITIZEN KANE in that regard, telling the old story of how money and power can leave people cold and lonely, albeit in a nice house. It shows us a different set of consequences for a man driven by the fear of failure. And when he does fail - emotionally, spiritually - he does not know how to accept his failures, only that he must not put himself in the same position again. The great loss in his life is his son. As easy as it is to look at his son as being the one who fails capitalist Daniel when he becomes deaf and no longer an asset, it's obviously the father who really fails the son and I think he carries that with him through the remaining course of the film. When his son leaves him later in life, it's just one more reminder of the fact that Daniel abandoned his son and does not have the connection to him that he desires. I don't buy that he only sees H.W. as competition at this point. I think he's hurt. And I also think he's slightly out of his mind. Thus, when Eli shows up finding Daniel so drunk he can barely wake up it's the perfect scapegoat. Here's the guy that caused all his problems with his son. Without Eli there would have been no accident on the Sunday Ranch and no opportunity for Daniel to do what he did to H.W. when he put him on that train.

I don't really know what to do with that last line, but I just know I loved it. Maybe he's realizing he's done with all his ties to the Sunday Ranch, the place that brought about his downfall. Or maybe he's just simply saying "I'm done beating this guy now." I don't know, but I loved the way Daniel Day-Lewis read the line. It almost feels improvised to me, though I doubt that very seriously.

Anyway, I'll let someone else figure out what the hell I'm saying now...

Great film. Amazed it got made. Amazed that it's got equally great company in an Oscar race. Awesome year for movies.

Notalith said...

Great to know that when our leader speaks, you write about "filmed art"

Notalith said...

Great to know that when our leader speaks, you write about "filmed art"

Notalith said...

Great to know that when our leader speaks, you write about "filmed art"

Craig Moorhead said...

Well, maybe this will help and maybe it won't, but the actual final line is "I'm finished.", as I remember. Which kind of has different connotations than "I'm done." It sounds like, ya know, "It's all over for me. I've sure done it now. I can't get back from this place like I have before.", etc.

As for whether you should read into the symbolism or look at it as a character piece - the truth is that what makes this thing stick with you is that both are going on simultaneously and seamlessly the entire time. It's like watching a five hour movie in 2 and a half hours. I mean, just the thing with Paul and Eli and were they really brothers or was it a scam - that occupied the entire hour and half after the movie, talking that over with friends. All of whom are convinced they understand it, none of whom agree with each other.

Also - it's a fact! The milkshake speech was a real speech in a congressional record that PTA found whilst doing research.

blankfist said...

You have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. And, my straw reaches across the room and starts to drink your milkshake, I drink your milkshake.

JudgeHolden said...

Awesome comments, guys.

I was worried I was talking about the movie in terms too purely symbolic as I was writing it, but I feel like understanding the most symbolic interpretation of the movie is the keystone that unlocks the rest of the movie. That may be way wrong, but that was the premise I was using with this post.

The idea that Eli might be a schizophrenic with a split personality hadn't occurred to me, but it does seem plausible. Right after the movie finished I turned to Peggy and said, "So Eli had a twin brother, right?" Even as I said it, the term "twin brother" didn't seem to fit inside the movie I just saw. Too campy. Not that "split personality" is more sophisticated, but I think it might add something to the idea that Capitalism and Religion (the persona who sells the land being C and the one who pretends to be a faith healer being R) being two sides of the same coin, and that strict adherence to either can fracture the psyche. Either way, that was one purely plot-oriented question that may not be definitively answered in the film.

I just feel like Anderson really did make a movie with characters who are also symbols that interact with one another in a proxy war of ideas and philosophies. More so than in most films, or even most novels. I feel like an understanding of human nature alone cannot account for the behavior of all of the characters in all of the scenes. By leaving so much unsaid, by leaving so much open to interpretation, I feel like PT wants people to look at the movie in a different way.

I agree with your take on Plainview, Shawn, that he's failed and is unable to reconcile himself with his multiple failures in spite of all the wealth he's earned. I also think "Citizen Kane" is a great model for getting at the heart of what "Blood"'s about.

As to your point about PT not being a Capitalism-hater, I agree he's probably not a Capitalism-hater on the order of, say, Papadeas, but "Oil!" was written by Upton Sinclair, a Communist-leaning Progressive who despised Capitalism (or so says the always-reliable Wikipedia). I just have to think that PT must have had Sinclair's rage in mind when he adapted it for the movie.

And I guess the last line was "I'm finished," which would change the subtext a little. Finished with the Sunday ranch, I like. I feel like his ending on that line rather than on an image, means that we're meant to look closely at it. I wonder if we're meant to think specifically about the difference between where Daniel is when we first meet him, and where we find him at the end.

And the "milkshake" dialogue was awesome, and even cooler now that I know it's true.

blankfist said...

Eli and Paul weren't supposed to be twins, and they weren't supposed to be the same person, from what I've heard. Apparently, from the story I heard which you can take it for what it's worth, but apparently the kid who was supposed to play Paul was intimidated by DDL. Paul Dano was already slated to play Eli, but once the other kid dropped out, PT had him play both parts.

Interesting review, Crane. I think I have to agree with you for most of it, but to me this movie seemed like a cautionary tale against being consumed by greed, and not so much a political anti-Capitalism movie, as you've mentioned. His son was good, and at the end he leaves to start his own business venture, and that didn't make his son evil all of a sudden. It was specifically greed that was the enemy of the story, I think, but Capitalism was the vehicle by which greed could consume Daniel.

Craig Moorhead said...

I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!

Yeah, I've heard the same story about the original casting of the brothers, but that just means they changed out it played. The reason I still believe it was the same person - and I don't think it's a schizophrenia thing, but just a very coy scam - is because several times in the movie, Eli proves himself to be of two minds, two motivations, two faces. But it's just Eli.

Also, the idea that this had to do with greed doesn't totally wash with me, either, now that I think about it. I mean, Daniel lived in a hovel in that town when he was striking oil. It wasn't until the end of the movie that he lived in a mansion, right? And when his false brother showed up, I figured Daniel would kill that guy immediately, figuring he was after oil money. But he didn't. The guy was "family" and family really means something to Daniel.

Thoughts?

getyourasstomars said...

I was confused about the Eli/Paul stuff too. If they were indeed one person, why did everyone else in the Sunday family humor Eli's psychotic delusions? After Daniel beats Eli and makes him eat dirt, Eli attacks his father (Abel)at the dinner table. Eli mentions Paul during his attack and no one seems to question it. This would leave me to believe that they were indeed two separate brothers. But why wouldn't PTA give them different haircuts or something? Then again, PT didn't seem overly concerned with aging Paul Dano when Eli resurfaces in the film thirty years after we saw him last. He even had the same zits on his chin.

Anonymous said...

I've tried to avoid this post as I have yet to see THERE WILL BE BLOOD. I have heard many many people complain of its lack of substance. There are people who are intelligent (and not in film industry).

Based on some of the critiques I've heard - Heath might possibly be right about it being individualized tale of greed, versus an indictment of capitalism and organized religion - the elixir opiate of the masses.

Quite possibly PTA is not astute enough politically to connect the dots and make the necessary connections. I believe he was homesick for Cali and found Upton Sinclair's book on a random shelf at an airport shop - where he was drawn to the cover and purchased it for a read. He has really played down the politics in the movie in all of his interviews - instead focusing on DDL's performance and the character.

Is this Citizen Kane without a "rosebud'?

Anyway - I am still making my way through all of the films from this year - still need to see Redacted, Rendition, In the Valley of Ellah, Michael Clayton....so once I do I will give my best of list for the year.

With that said, I still think that the Foreign Films of the last few years are far superior to American cinema, which is hurting..., especially if NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN wins BEST PICTURE.

GREAT ARTICLE -

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/jan2008/acad-j28.shtml


- PAPA

getyourasstomars said...

Papa,
You just said a mouthful, buddy. I'd love to hear you wax poetic on a film you have seen, but for Pete's sake, buddy... it's just too much. Help me out.

Anonymous said...

Are there rules now to posting?

Are you the blog cop?

- PAPA

getyourasstomars said...

No sir, there are no rules.

It's just astonishing how comfortable you are exposing yourself as a guy who has strong opinions on shit he knows nothing about. The grandstanding is way out of control, dude.

That is all.

Anonymous said...

Alright - you are calling me out I guess. APPLAUSE!

Congrats! You are the Guardian of Crane's blog. Protecting the sanctity of what is right in the world. Protecting free speech.

Also, since you are attacking me - best to fight back - how am I grandstanding?

Define what that means? Are you critiquing my comments on this blog in general or on the THERE WILL BE BLOOD POST specifically?

My life for the last 15 years has been immersed in film. I think I might be able to express an opinion that has some weight.

Moreover, I was commenting on the periphery of the film. I've watched interviews, actually I am an Upton Sinclair fan, a political activist and have the script at home.

If you've ever made a film before you should know that there is much more to it than the actual project itself. There are anecdotes, stories, history that went into its evolution.

Moreover, I was making a general comment about American mainstream cinema and for the most part in my humble opinion, it leaves much to be desired. If you want to debate that comment - then let's go for it - otherwise please spare me with your self-righteous bullshit.

- Paul Papadeas

getyourasstomars said...

Papa,

I didn't mean to suggest your comments aren't valuable, I actually quite enjoy your posts. It just that in this case you took it upon yourself to review a movie you haven't seen and then gave it a bad review! I respect that you're a film scholar and all, but that's slapdash, my friend. Surely you have more respect for the medium than that. Surely.

Excercising my own freedom of speech is hardly trampling on yours. You're free to write whatever you want. You're even free to have an uninformed opinion, just don't expect to be taken seriously is all.

Commenting on the periphery of the film is fine. I'd love to hear your musings on the script, or on Sinclair's novel, what have you... but to make up a scenario where PTA buys Oil! at the airport gift shop because he was drawn to the colorful cover art? Preposterous. So maybe you don't like his other films, fair enough. Would that not suffice?

You don't like mainstream American cinema. I get it. Me, I'd like to bang Hillary Duff without a rubber-- that's just how I roll.

I hope this doesn't make us internet enemies. I have a feeling that deep down, you and I have a lot in common. Martin Lawrence, maybe? Maybe we can go see "Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins" together...

Anonymous said...

No enemies man. That would be pointless.

And by the way - I should have given some context to the statement. PTA did say this when he was interviewed on CHARLIE ROSE with DDL. He was drawn to the cover of Sinclair's book because he was homesick - but then Charlie Rose makes a point to say that this film was a loose adaptation and then that was the last analysis of the anti-capitalist theme in the movie. This unnerved me -because I gather that you can't offend the corporations that underwrite his program - that or PTA wanted to avoid this part in fear of alienating a potential mainstream audience or he is just purely shallow.

Although, I will be in a better position to critique the film once I have seen it. Something that I stated before my grandstanding.

- PAPA

Beech said...

The Eli/Paul question annoys me. The more I think about it, the more it bothers me.

What bothers me is that there is even a debate about it.

I'm in the camp that believes the two were just twins. To me there seems to be no reason to think otherwise. There's no logic behind the argument that they are the same person.

Those who think the two were one via schizophrenia or disassociative personality disorder - my personal stance is that you're trying too hard to place too much meaning into this for no reason other than exercising your own skills at critical analysis.

A bunch of try-hards.

harwell said...

I have no real reason to think they aren't twins either, but I didn't break a sweat or anything wondering if they might actually be the same person. Hell, if that's your basis for thinking too hard, then I guess my brain is exercising like an athlete every time I take a dump...

I mean, if P.T. Anderson didn't want us to consider several possibilities he would've given us the answer himself. When Daniel calls Eli "Paul" all that's needed is the line "Paul is my twin brother. I'm Eli." He doesn't say that. The idea of them being twins is never openly discussed and so you assuming that they are requires no more or no less critical thought than somebody else thinking that maybe Eli's just out of his damn mind. Is there logic behind Eli's sudden assault across the table at his father? Maybe, but it's still an inconsistent action from him. The movie has quite a few odd moments like this (which was addressed in Crane's original post) and as such it's (thankfully) a movie BEGGING for critical analysis. Doesn't mean you can't also enjoy it on very simple terms (a testament to its quality), but I don't understand how you can accuse some of exercising too much thought when you're the one critiquing the film AND the critic themselves.

Who's trying too hard???

Or more importantly, who cares? How is that even a bad thing? What the hell are we talking about?

Beech said...

Harwell,

Thank you for your response. Please know that I have given it attention and thought. I acknowledge your position.

You asked, “What the hell are we talking about?” That phrase, I imagine, is more intended to trivialize where I’m coming from than it is an actual query into my position. Regardless, I’m going to respond because I think my original remarks fail to convey everything I’d like to get across.

To begin, we’re not talking about people “thinking” too hard. Quite the opposite. That rubbish theory about Eli and Paul being the same individual is worth about as much as one of your dumps. “Trying” too hard refers to people being hell-bent on finding something unique or hidden within the film – whether it’s there or not. It’s fine if some aspect of the movie leaps out at you, or even if you give it some strong independent thought of your own. Sadly, I think this Eli/Paul concept is a great big pretentious bandwagon.

Sure, some guys have given the concept thought. That’s fine. Unfortunately, I feel a lot of phoniness when I read people regurgitating each other about Eli and Paul. It bothers me. Heck, it angers me. I generally look to sense a grain of sincerity when I read people’s thoughts about movies I enjoy.

More to the point though: where’s the critical analysis in the idea of them being the same individual? There’s no reasoning behind it. There’s no case being built for it. Where’s the logic? The only thing I’m hearing is that PT surely could’ve made things more clear for the movie going audience. (Any other filmmaker would be accused of being sloppy, but not PT… no, he MUST have something up his sleeve.) What does that mean for the film if that is what’s going on? So, sure, people can pretend that Eli didn’t have a brother, but that doesn’t provide illumination on any deeper mysteries. Where’s the gain?

Simply put, the most likely scenario is that the two are brothers. More twins exist in the world than people with multiple personalities. Plenty of brothers leave home and never return like Paul. It’s normal, feasible and again, the most likely possibility. To suggest otherwise is excessive mouth breathing. Unless, of course, the source is presenting a solid argument - which I have yet to see, and I’ve read a lot fools posturing on this topic.

Here’s an excerpt from an interview with PTA:

“AVC: Some people will surely see it as a message movie because Upton Sinclair's name is on it, but for other obvious reasons as well. Were you thinking about modern-day strong-arm capitalism and mega-church religion while you were writing and shooting it?

PTA: I was thinking that we'd better be very careful not to do too much of that. And what I mean by that is what I said earlier, that we should approach the film as a horror film and a boxing match first. You know you're walking into a film about an independent oilman and a guy that runs a church. The risks that you run are big, long speeches that would help in paralleling or allegoricalizing, if that's a word. [Laughs.] We thought, "Let's be careful." That's a slippery slope, isn't it?

AVC: Sure, but you know it's there. Do you let a tiny bit of it in to avoid the floodgates opening?

PTA: I suppose that's probably what it is. It's so funny, because ideally, once you get underneath the skin of these men, that stuff falls away.”

I think PT’s response about the “deeper” thematic meanings falling away “once you get underneath the skin of these men” is valuable and relevant to this topic. Too many people hyper-focus on figuring out what the empty spaces between the notes mean when the real beauty and luxury of the film is in the detailed existence of the characters… characters who don’t have to represent anything but themselves.

I’m all for art. Just about anyone who knows me knows that. But I think it’s often taken to extremes by blowhards the world over. When I sense that going on I feel like something I hold very dear and private is being corrupted. So I lose my better judgment and write as much.

Maybe I’m expressing this opinion in the wrong spot. If so, I apologize. Maybe I’m intolerant and close-minded. I don’t think so. My thoughts on this matter are aggressive and therefore somewhat insulting to other people. I regret that, and assure you that I remain open to any persuasive debates.

There are a million things I could write on this subject but I’ll let it go for now. I hope that explains a little better where I’m coming from.

getyourasstomars said...

Wow Beech.

You managed to write a long ass post and say a whole lot of nothing. Kudos to you.

So after reading your post, we are where we were... you believe there's no possibility Eli and Paul could be anything but twin brothers and furthermore you suspect anyone who thinks differently is either a blowhard or a lemming. Check.

What was the relevance of that quote from the PT Anderson interview? Because he states that he tries not to self-consciously explore the "deeper meanings" and instead "get underneath the skin of the character" does not mean that the final work is devoid of "deeper meaning". By getting in the character's skin, those themes/meanings inevitably come out, by the character's very nature alone.

The "gain" of interpreting the film in different ways does not need to be justified to you. It is it's own reward. Believe it or not, some people simply find it interesting or (gasp) fun.

Different interpretations should not impede your enjoyment of the film in any way. Your possessiveness of TWBB is beyond ridiculous. It's something you hold dear and private. Riiiight. It's your own private PT Anderson movie, I guess. He made it just for you.

Excessive mouthbreathing? Interesting choice of words. I would have used "navel-gazing" to express the point you were trying to make. But that's just my interpretation.

So far you've called people with differing views pretentious, mouthbreathers, bandwagon-jumpers, phonies and fools. Why are you incapable of discussing this without ad hominem attacks?

PeterMunich said...

Big Expectations... big disappointment!!!

What a waste of energy... the oil digging scenes are very impressive, but who cares in the end?

Plainview digs, betrays, collects, lies, gains, gets rich - to what end? You never see him enjoy all his riches, share them even for a short moment. No women, no home... even the adopted son is sent away. Does he bath in his oil secretly?

After about 5 minutes into the film, I had the first hint that PTA is "fabricating art": no word is spoken... you get the concept... he keeps the silence... it gets a little strained... and in the end, the whole film stays in this mood: let´s make art!

If I had been the producer, I would have kicked the whole soundtrack right into the garbage. From the very first moment, it keeps calling loudest attention to itself. Won´t stop sometimes, unnerves in moments when a little quiet could bring a much better impact...

I don´t like filmmakers like PTA: where BOOGIE NIGHTS and parts of MAGNOLIA still showed some heart and emotions, BLOOD shows only too much brain.

"I´m done" the "hero" says after the killing. And then? Does he stay above the law? How long?
How?

PTA has no answer. Why should WE care?

Anonymous said...

Have you noticed in the final scene at the bowling that Eli was serving three drinks? And they were only two persons in the room: Eli and Daniel. This argument improve de schizophrenic theory for Eli's character. I don't know if someone has mentionned this before but it's an important detail.
Frank

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