Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Masterpiece is a word people throw around a lot. (The Greatest is Cat Power's masterpiece. Once is a masterpiece etc.) These uses get to me because either people really love mediocrity or they've just been living in their basement for 10 years and the first thing they saw when they came out was so radically different from the sounds of spider's fornicating that it struck them in such a profound way. Masterpiece is a word that belongs next to very few works of art. Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood is one of them. I've seen more movies than I can count and I'm still lucky enough to be surprised by something completely unique once in a blue moon. I had a feeling this was going to be my favorite movie of the last year, so strongly did I feel this that I drove an hour and a half to a city I hate to see it. It is in unqeustionably one of the best narrative movies ever made.

I thought that No Country For Old Men was going to be the high point of art films this year, but this film beats it. The look is much more of the kind of thing the Coen Brothers were going for, but in much more monumental terms. Take for example the scene in which the oil derricks finally break through and the thing catches fire. The colors he uses, the oil filled skies, the burning tower, the sunset, the fire reflecting in Daniel Day-Lewis's eyes. It all plays up the intensity which is made palpable by Daniel Day-Lewis himself, who seems to embody the word seething. He is perfect; as is the score by Jonny Greenwood. Everybody here is just living up to their potential in ways never previously imagined. PT Anderson makes up for Magnolia in a big way and together with his stars, composer, editor, cinematographer and the rest of his crew, he has created a beautiful, unprecedented, remarkably original, creative movie, the best of the last 2 or 3 years. It rivals Inland Empire, Zodiac, No Country and all other films this year in it's sheer audacity. Each scene is just more insane than the next and in the end still manages to makes sense. This is one of the most atheistic, misanthropic films ever made (the fact that it was made today, in the midst of the most religious government this country has ever seen is amazing). In what other film would a hateful, disgusting creep like Daniel Plainview get away with all the terrible things he does and not find anything close to redemption. The one kind thing he does is alienate his son so he is motivated to distance himself from him and his horrible lifestyle. I like to think that his last conversation with his son is a conscious decision, especially after the thing that follows. The ending is the most bizarre violent outburst an American has attempted that I've seen. It's pace, look, color and tone reminds me of a Seijun Suzuki film (like Youth Of The Beast, Story Of A Prostitute and Branded To Kill). Run, friends, don't walk.

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