Embracing the Melodrama Part II #109: There Will Be Blood (dir by Paul Thomas Anderson)


There_Will_Be_Blood_PosterYou know how there are some films that you really want to love and that you know that, given your taste in cinema, you probably should love but yet you somehow just cannot bring yourself to actually love?

To a certain extent, that’s the way I feel about the 2007 best picture nominee There Will Be Blood.  It’s a film that I greatly respect, as I tend to respect all of Paul Thomas Anderson’s movies.  He’s one of the best director working today and also one of the most consistently interesting.  (He’s also probably the only contemporary filmmaker who would actually base a two and half hour epic on the first 150 pages of a forgotten novel by Upton Sinclair.)  And I think that There Will Be Blood is a well-made and well-directed film.  I also think it’s well-acted, though I do think Daniel Day-Lewis goes a bit too far over-the-top at the film’s conclusion.   (If anything, Paul Dano is the one who actually deserved to win an Oscar for his work in this film.)  There Will Be Blood is an original work of cinematic art.  I’m thankful that it was made and that Anderson stayed true to his vision.

But, with all that in mind, it’s never been a film that I’ve been able to love.  Unlike Anderson’s earlier Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood holds the audience at a distance.  We remains outsiders looking in.  As a result, the film engages intellectually but not emotionally.  It’s a film that earns respect without necessarily winning the audience’s love.

Speaking of respect, that’s something that you have to give to both Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson.  From the start of the film, Daniel Plainview (played by Day-Lewis) is a cruel and self-centered bastard and that characterization remains consistent throughout.  Briefly, it does seem that Plainview might truly care about his deaf, adopted son but, by the end of the film, Plainview has even proven that to be wishful thinking on our part.  (The only other character to whom Plainview is consistently pleasant is a young girl named Mary but Day-Lewis plays those scenes with such a corrupt twinkle in his eye that the subtext becomes increasingly creepy.)  Give Anderson and Day-Lewis credit.  They commit to portraying Daniel Plainview as being an almost Satanic character and, at no point, does either one of them waver in that commitment.  As we watch Plainview ruthlessly buy up all the land and drill all the oil that he can find, we wait for him to have some moment of redemption.  It took guts for neither Anderson nor Day-Lewis to allow him one.

Paul Dano plays Eli Sunday, an evangelical preacher who stands in the way of Plainview’s efforts to buy up all the land around the Sunday family farm.  The film presents Eli and Plainview as being two sides of the same coin.  Plainview hides his moral emptiness behind his money.  Eli hides behind his religion.  The two characters hate each other because they alone truly recognize what they truly are.  Dano, who also plays Eli’s brother, gives a mesmerizing performance, one that unfortunately has been overshadowed by Day-Lewis’s work.

It all ends, as all things must, with violent death in a bowling alley.  I know that a lot of my fellow cineastes think that the bowling scene is the highlight of the film but, to be honest, this was the point where the film lost me.  To me, this was the scene where Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance crossed the line from being flamboyant to shrill.  The end just did not work for me.

However, two things that did definitely work for me: Johnny Greenwood’s wonderfully ominous and atmospheric score and Robert Elswit’s amazing cinematography, which made the film’s landscape appear both beautiful and threatening at the same time.  The mix of Greenwood’s music with Elswit’s cinematography created some truly haunting moments.

In the end, There Will Be Blood is a lot like Daniel Plainview.  It is powerful, memorable, unpredictable, flamboyant, overbearing, and at times a little frightening.  And, again much like Daniel Plainview, it’s a film that’s easy to respect and difficult to love.

Lisa’s Way Too Early Oscar Predictions For April


Best Picture

Black Mass

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

The End of the Tour

Grandma

The Hateful Eight

In The Heart of the Sea

The Revenant

The Walk

Woman in Gold

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston in Trumbo

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant

Michael Fassebender in Steve Jobs

Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies

Jason Segel in The End of the Tour

Best Actress

Blythe Danner in I’ll See You In My Dreams

Jennifer Lawrence in Joy

Helen Mirren in Woman in Gold

Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn

Lily Tomlin in Grandma

Best Supporting Actor

Jim Broadbent in Brooklyn

Albert Brooks in Concussion

Paul Dano in Love and Mercy

Tom Hardy in The Revenant

Kurt Russell in The Hateful Eight

Best Supporting Actress

Julia Garner in Grandma

Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight

Kristin Scott Thomas in Suite Francaise

Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria

Meryl Steeep in Suffragette

Best Director

John Crowley for Brooklyn

Ron Howard for In The Heart of the Sea

James Ponsoldt for The End of the Tour

Steven Spielberg for Bridge of Spies

Robert Zemeckis for The Walk

Lisa’s Way Too Early Oscar Predictions for March


The-Walk-movie-poster

Best Picture

Black Mass

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

The End of the Tour

Grandma

The Hateful Eight

In The Heart of the Sea

The Revenant

The Walk

Woman in Gold

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston in Trumbo

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant

Michael Fassebender in Steve Jobs

Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies

Jason Segel in The End of the Tour

Best Actress

Blythe Danner in I’ll See You In My Dreams

Jennifer Lawrence in Joy

Helen Mirren in Woman in Gold

Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn

Lily Tomlin in Grandma

Best Supporting Actor

Jim Broadbent in Brooklyn

Albert Brooks in Concussion

Paul Dano in Love and Mercy

Tom Hardy in The Revenant

Kurt Russell in The Hateful Eight

Best Supporting Actress

Julia Garner in Grandma

Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight

Kristin Scott Thomas in Suite Francaise

Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria

Meryl Steeep in Suffragette

Best Director

John Crowley for Brooklyn

Ron Howard for In The Heart of the Sea

James Ponsoldt for The End of the Tour

Steven Spielberg for Bridge of Spies

Robert Zemeckis for The Walk

Lisa’s Way Too Early Oscar Predictions For February


Brooklyn

Well, tonight’s the night!  Soon, we will know which 2014 films have won Oscars.

And, as soon as the ceremony ends, it will be time to start speculating about which 2015 films will be nominated next year!  I am sharing and updating my predictions on a monthly basis and below you’ll find my latest predictions.  You can read my predictions for January by clicking here.

Some of these films and performers — like End of the Tour and Grandma — were acclaimed at Sundance.  (The recently concluded Berlin Film Festival, on the other hand, mostly just served to confirm that Knight of Cups and Queen of the Desert will probably not be contenders.)  Kristen Stewart recently won a Cesar Award for Clouds of Sils Maria.  Otherwise, the majority of predictions below are the results of my own wild guesses.

A year from now, we’ll probably look back at these predictions and laugh.

Best Picture

Black Mass

Brooklyn

The End of the Tour

Grandma

The Hateful Eight

In The Heart of the Sea

The Revenant

St. James Place

The Walk

Woman in Gold

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston in Trumbo

Matt Damon in The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant

Michael Fassebender in Steve Jobs

Jason Segel in The End of the Tour

Best Actress

Blythe Danner in I’ll See You In My Dreams

Jennifer Lawrence in Joy

Helen Mirren in Woman in Gold

Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn

Lily Tomlin in Grandma

Best Supporting Actor

Jim Broadbent in Brooklyn

Albert Brooks in Concussion

Paul Dano in Love and Mercy

Tom Hardy in The Revenant

Kurt Russell in The Hateful Eight

Best Supporting Actress

Julia Garner in Grandma

Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight

Kristin Scott Thomas in Suite Francaise

Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria

Meryl Steeep in Suffragette

Best Director

John Crowley for Brooklyn

Ron Howard for In The Heart of the Sea

James Ponsoldt for The End of the Tour

Steven Spielberg for St. James Place

Robert Zemeckis for The Walk

Clouds of Sils Maria

Cowboys & Aliens: Trailer 2


Last night saw the release of the latest (most likely the final) trailer for Jon Favreau’s sci-fi and western mash-up called Cowboys & Aliens.

There’s some new scenes shown in this latest trailer some of which were first shown earlier this month at WonderCon 2011. There’s less of the comedic aspect shown in the past trailers. The usage of Audioslave’s “Show Me How To Live” was a nice touch.

There’s not much else to say other than the film sold me fully at WonderCon 2011 so this latest trailer is just icing on the cake. With three more months to go before it finally sees it’s release there’s going to be a lot of hype surrounding this film and it better live up to it.

Cowboys & Aliens is still set for a July 29, 2011 release.

Cowboys & Aliens (Super Bowl TV Spot)


Super Bowl XLV hasn’t even started and the very first summer blockbuster tv spot has already been released by its producers. While it still hasn’t premiered on tv it has already aired on the internet as Jon Favreau and crew continues to build up the hype the film got from its panel at 2010’s San Diego Comic-Con.

The tv spot that will air during the game is only half a minute long, but during that small time frame we see a lot more action with clear glimpses of the alien machines/spacecrafts that will be doing some abducting and probing in the Old West.

If this film end ups being as fun as the original Men In Black then I’m there. But part of me fears that it could turn out to be something like Wild, Wild West which would definitely make it a major fail. Here’s to hoping it’s more like the former and not the latter when it comes out on July 29, 2011.

Cowboys & Aliens Teaser Trailer


Who would’ve thought that a comic book named Cowboys & Aliens will end up being one of the most anticipated tentpole films for the Summer of 2011. It’s a fun little book from Platinum Studios created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and written by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley with the artwork done by one Luciano Lima. The premise of the comic book is literally about cowboys and aliens. With the latter attempting to enslave humanity during the 1870’s and starting with the Wild West. In their plans for world conquest are a band of cowboys and Indians who band together despite their many conflicts and issues to combat a shared and greater threat.

The film was announced prior to the release of Favreau’s Iron Man 2 and was a surprising one. Many insiders thought he was a shoo-in to helm the planned Avengers film for Marvel, but instead he chose this project instead.

To say that Cowboys & Aliens steamrolled into production with so many heavyweights behind it would be an understatement. Favreau was already in the director’s chair and producing the project behind the scenes were giants of the industry like Steven Spielberg, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. The cast roped in for the film was also quite impressive with Daniel Craig taking on the lead role with Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford, Clancy Brown, Keith Carridine, Walton Goggins and Paul Dano supporting Craig.

The very first teaser trailer has been released and could be seen above. While the trailer only shows only a little bit it does confirm that it will have cowboys and, from the brief glancing images, aliens. Cowboys & Aliens has a tentative release date of July 29, 2011 and joins other comic book-based films for that summer like Thor, Captain America and Green Lantern.

It will be interesting to see if Favreau keeps the bulk of the books storyline in the film or will he just loosely base the story on the books. One thing for sure, he and his crew have a tall order to try and tell this story and do it well enough that it stands out amongst the many comic book blockbusters and sequels set to appear in the same season. This film could be a real fun, action-adventure or it could easily turn into the second coming of Wild, Wild West. Here’s to hoping it’s the former and not the latter.