Sunday, January 27, 2008

Here it is . . . finally.

A while ago, I promised you a review of There Will Be Blood. Actually, it's been over a week since I saw it, but I didn't want to review it until I'd seen it again. Well, I did that a few days ago, so, as I promised, here's my review of the film . . .


In November, I saw the Coen Brothers' No Country For Old Men. I didn't think that I'd see a better movie from 2007, and, as such, I named it the best film of the year. However, you might remember that I left myself an out clause. This clause consisted of these words: "Personally, I’ll probably be rooting for it come Oscar night, unless some other film comes along and knocks me sideways." Well, it happened. Another film came along and knocked me around. Now, while I still think that No Country For Old Men is a terrific film, and one of the year's best, (and my favorite Coen Bros. film) I'm going to have to take it back. Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood is my pick for the best film of 2007.

There Will Be Blood is unlike any film I've ever seen. This is strange, because, on some levels, it's a fairly straightforward epic film, with many of the genre's conventions. However, I think that this film takes a step further and trancends the categorization of only functioning as mere entertainment, which most films never do. Don't take this to mean that I don't think that the film's entertaining, because I think it's quite entertaining. I think that there's really just one way to to say it: There Will Be Blood is art. Yes, art. The film has an amazingly immediate, visceral quality to it. Once the film ends, you're left to struggle to put it together in your mind and decide what it "means." I've seen it twice already, and, both times, the people I was with (and myself too, but much more so the first time) found ourselves almost dazed when the movie was over. It's a lot to take in, and is a total trip.

The film operates on many different levels. On one level, it's a dark character study. On another, it's primarily a struggle between two men. On another, it uses symbols to tell the story of America itself, and forces that have helped to shape it into what it is. The ending is literally mind-blowing. (and is now one of my favorite endings of all-time) Despite its coming from the proverbial "left field," I don't think the film can really end any other way. Besides, there's this really great line about a milkshake that I don't think anyone who sees the film will EVER forget.

The performances, in particular, are excellent. Although it's been said many times already, Daniel Day-Lewis is AWESOME. He doesn't just act in this movie: he EMBODIES Daniel Plainview, who, I think, is one of the most complex and memorable characters in recent cinema. He will win an Academy Award for Best Actor for this role; you can bet money on it. Paul Dano also turns in a great performance as Eli Sunday, who is so creepy that he almost makes my skin crawl.

Jonny Greenwood's score is intense and, I think, points to an exciting new direction in film scoring. I know that the music has divided people as to its quality, with some people really liking it, and others thinking that it's too abrasive. Personally, I think that it's really cool, and really adds a unique quality to the film. If he hadn't used part of a previous composition of his as part of the score, I think that he would have been a serious contender for the Academy Award for Best Original Score. It's certainly the year's most innovative.

Until now, I'd never seen any of Paul Thomas Anderson's films. Now, I want to see all of them. His direction is wonderfully confident. I can only think of one shot in the entire film that bugged me as not really "fitting." Aside from that, each shot flows into the next almost seamlessly. In the end, There Will Be Blood is a challenging, frightening, awe-inspiring, and vibrant work of art. It is not a film that can be easily comprehended, and asks a lot of the viewer. However, I think that it's well worth the effort and is an experience that lovers of the movies will not want to miss. This film's one for the ages, folks.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Please . . . stand . . . by . . .

First things first: I haven't forgotten my promise to post a review of There Will Be Blood. It's the type of film that one needs to see more than once in order to really grasp. So, I'm going to see it again in a few days with a certain special someone who didn't get the chance to see it when I went with Team 100 last week. I won't give away my opinion of the film yet, but I will say this: it's a rare thing for me to find a movie that I actually want to go see more than once in theatrical release.

I'll also be posting my take on the recently announced Oscar nominations, as well as which films/actors/actresses seem to be front-runners. There are a few races that I think can effectively be called already. So, until then . . .

Peace, Love, and Understanding,


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Words of Wisdom

Waltz (Better Than Fine)

If you don't have a song to sing
You're ok
You know how to get along humming
If you don't have a date
Go out and sit on the lawn
And do nothing
-Cause it's just what you must do and
Nobody does it anymore
No, I don't believe in the wasting of time
But I don't believe that I'm wasting mine
If you don't have a point to make
Don't sweat it
You'll make a sharp one being so kind
(And I'd sure appreciate it)
Everyone else's goal's to get big-headed
Why should I follow that beat,
Being that I'm
Better than fine

-Fiona Apple

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Funny thing happened last night . . .

. . . and here's the scenario. I was driving home on Saturday night (actually, it was technically Sunday morning) after a terrific evening, and a strange sensation hit me. For the first time in a long time, I actually felt content. You know, that thing where you feel like everything's all right the way it is and everything that's not quite right will be all right in time. It wasn't that a lot of things had changed in my life, (although some things have) but, instead, my attitude about those things was what changed. Think about it, I still have another semester of school left to go. I still have people in my life that irritate me. I still don't think that very many people really understand me and how I think. I still don't quite know what the future holds after graduation. I still have questions about how to handle certain situations with certain people in my life. But, despite all this, I felt like things were all right, and I felt like I could handle them. For example, there's one person in my life that I've never really "gotten." As a result of this, (and this person's lack of understanding of personal boundaries) this is someone I usually try to avoid. Get this: this morning, I actually made the effort (like a big boy) to talk to this person, (who I even hugged!) instead of the avoidance tactic I usually use. Now, this might sound simple, but, for me, this is HUGE.

In other news, I'm now an intern at the Newport Beach Film Festival. It's actually pretty cool, because this was the internship that I wanted, and it ended up being the only internship that I even interviewed at. Not bad for a day's work . . . So far, my job has consisted of reviewing films for possible inclusion in the Festival's line-up. Of course, it's not like I have any kind of defining "say," but I am part of the process nonetheless. I was told going in that the vast majority of the films that I'd be watching would be terrible, but, so far, out of the 5 films that I've watched, 3 have been very good. One in particular was pretty terrific. I really want to tell people about it, but I signed a confidentiality agreement. I'm going to try to talk to my supervisor to find out how much I can say to people, because I really want to spread the word about this film. It's really funny, and, in its own way, maybe, somewhat brilliant. I'll be starting work in the Festival's office the first week of school. (next week)

This is somewhat of an unusually sunny post for me, since I usually talk about how I don't know where my life's going and all of that encouraging stuff. But, you know what? There are a lot of great things happening in my life and one thing is for certain . . .

. . . I have so much to be thankful for.

Peace, Love, & Understanding,

P.S. I'm finally going to see There Will Be Blood on Saturday with the gang. I'll post a review here afterword.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Awards season is kicking off early this year. . .

. . . OK, I'm not a member of either the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, but I'm not going to let that hold me back. Behold, my friends, my choices for the best (and worst) in music and movies for 2007, with some additional commentary. I'm going to limit my choices to movies that I've seen, obviously, so don't sue me if I miss something that you might feel was pretty obvious.


Best of the Year: No Country For Old Men.

I went to see approximately 18 movies in theatrical release in 2007, and liked some, loved a few, and hated some too. In a year recognized for a lot of great movies, this one stands out as the best of what I watched this year. However, I've heard a great deal of positive buzz about There Will Be Blood and Atonement, both of which I haven't seen yet.

Worst of the Year: Spider-Man 3.
Honorable Mention: The entire summer movie season.

Spidey 3 was the first film that I actually went to the trouble to go see at midnight on opening day. I don't know if I could have made a worse choice. The story was bloated beyond hope of recovery, MJ and Peter were both whiney brats, the Sandman should have been completely axed (or totally revamped), Venom was sadly underused, and whoever had the idea of turning Peter Parker into an emo kid should lose his/her job. After the brilliance of Spider-Man 2, it's hard to believe that the mighty could have fallen so far.

In a broader sense, the whole summer movie season was terribly disappointing. As I already said, Spider-Man 3 was terrible. In addition, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End was DESPARATELY in need of an editor (or maybe 2 or 3 editors) and was, overall, a big letdown. It was better that Dead Man's Chest, but that isn't saying much. (although, I must say that the Keith Richards cameo was just awesome) The Bourne Ulitmatum was good, but I wanted so badly for it to be great. I mean, come on, this trilogy practically screamed "huge ending," and I was left asking "THAT WAS IT?" Ocean's 13 meant well, and was entertaining. In the end, however, it was still a letdown. On the bright side, Ratatouille, Live Free or Die Hard, and The Simpson's Movie were all good, with The Simpson's Movie being one of my favorites this year.


Best of the Year: Radiohead - In Rainbows.
Honorable Mention: Bruce Springsteen - Magic, The White Stripes - Icky Thump.

Yes, I was one of those nuts who got up the first day and downloaded In Rainbows via the whole pay-what-you-want scheme. (I paid 3 pounds) I had a mid-term that day, but I didn't care. I wasn't leaving until I had that record in hand. At first, I was disappointed by the record, and wondered if this had really been worth the wait. But, the trick to listening to Radiohead's music is patience. Their music often isn't something you really get until you've heard it a few times. But I can tell you this: if you do give it time, it will reward you in ways you never dreamed were possible. There isn't a bad song on the album. In fact, some of the songs (particularly "4 Minute Warning") that didn't make the record would easily be the best songs on other people's albums. Seriously, has Radiohead ever written a song more direct (or lovely) than "House of Cards?" In Rainbows isn't as experimental as some of their past work, but it is one of their most accessible, vibrant albums. I know that I will treasure it forever. I don't feel like I really got this out in the best way that I could have, so, I guess what I'd advise you to do is get it and hear it for yourself. Radiohead's music has changed my life. Who knows? It just might change yours too.